Sanditon

Sanditon

2019 - United Kingdom

‘exciting, heartfelt, and dramatic’

Sanditon review by Jennifer AJ

In Sanditon, where the sun always shines and the water is inviting, a young girl is about to discover a world rife with ambitions and desire.  

At once familiar and subversive, this Regency era romance is arguably the black sheep of Jane Austen’s adaptations. Not only is it based on a manuscript that the author never finished, but the drama also takes many daring creative liberties that depart from the general convention of Austenian works. 

The story follows an intrepid country girl named Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) as she makes a daring move to Sanditon. Once a sleepy fishing village, the town is being redeveloped into a seaside resort by the Parker family, who take Charlotte in after she helps them during an accident. As Sanditon undergoes rapid changes, Charlotte must navigate the treacherous waters of Sanditon society and juggle romantic propositions coming her way. 

Sanditon

As with any other Austen stories, the series is first and foremost about romance. In its three season run, Charlotte has no shortage of love interests vying for her attention. The fact that Austen never completed Sanditon leaves a lot of room for exploration. So, unlike other Austen heroines, Charlotte gets to stumble through some heartbreaks before finding true love. Unchained to any particular ending, the series gets to explore Charlotte’s growth as a woman on the cusp of a great change, giving her a richer character development beyond finding a husband. 

The tone of the series is less reverential to the Austen lore. Familiar elements like inter-class struggle, snotty royalties, fancy balls, and hijinks surrounding inheritance are still present, as are modern sprinkles like the inclusion of sex and diverse castings. It’s a progressive soap opera dressed in Regency garbs, utilizing a modern take on costume drama that Bridgerton later perfected.

Sanditon

The series is anchored by a winning lead performance by Williams. Adorable and fierce all at once, Charlotte is an amalgamation of Lizzie Bennet’s impassioned nature and Anne Elliot’s inquisitiveness. Her good-natured charm also serves her well in the chemistry department. Charlotte goes through several romances, and she sparkles in all of them. The ensemble cast is what you’d expect from a mid-tier period drama: serviceable to enjoy.  

The misadventures happening in Sanditon are a big part of its appeal. The town always seems to stumble into some sort of complication every episode, forcing its townsfolk to scramble for solutions. In a way, the town is a character unto itself and the series does a great job portraying the ambience of the beachside locale. Admittedly, the show’s production values are not the most impeccable. This one is no Bridgerton or The Crown with their Netflix budgets. The humbleness shows, though they do make the most out of the natural vista: the beach, the gardens, the meadow.

Fans of period romantic dramas will find much to love about this unassuming series. It’s exciting, heartfelt, and dramatic, a window into an archaic way of life that lets you escape to a different world. 

Linked Article

Cottage-Core: How period dramas fuel our obsession with rural English lifestyle

Published on July 29th, 2023. Written by Jennifer Ariesta for Television Heaven.

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