06 February 2015

TV: Banana iii

Banana is a curious beast. It consistently produces excellent drama that's (so far) always along the same lines, only with a different spin that makes you see events in a totally different light each time. 

This week's episode concerns Sian, who works in a shoe shop, and Violet, one of her customers. It opens with an endearing sequence where the latter returns to the former's shop six times on the false pretence that she wants to exchange her shoes. This of course leads to a full-blown relationship, and writer Sue Perkins handles the character sensitively, treating them no different to a straight couple, which in my view is exactly right.

Of note in this episode are the ways attitudes to homosexuality are addressed. Although we don't see any actual abuse, it's much discussed, and every possible perspective on the matter is presented through our three lead characters - Sian's mum Vanessa plays a key role in this too. No real conclusion is reached other than everyone has a different experience of bullying and abuse in some form or another, and I was glad to see issues presented with a grounded sense of humour. In the words of Vanessa, brought to life wonderfully by Lynn Hunter, there are some real pricks out there, and you need to be able to see the good things in life.

And Banana is certainly one of them. This is more like the 'conventional' romance we were expecting last week, but like real life, there's nothing conventional about it at all. Sian falls into a heady romance, but that's not what this episode is about. The real core of the story is in her growing up and learning to find a lust for things - for life. If it's possible for a series to become predictably unpredictable, then this certainly is. Although that's less true of this episode - the twists were often signposted - the emphasis really isn't on the plot. Like all creator Russell T Davies' best work, it's about character. And the two characters at the heart of this really sing.

Georgia Henshaw (Sian) and Hannah John-Kamen (Violet) are perfectly cast in these two roles, and nowhere is this shown better than in Lewis Arnold's mesmeric shots of them just lying on a bed, holding hands. Love in a picture. There's plenty else of note though, and it seems either Davies guided Perkins in the development of her script or she's learning from the master, as we get another satisfying pay-off. This time it comes twice, in the form of a supermarket game. The first time, is in said location, but the second comes right at the close of play, and wraps the whole story up nicely. Once again, we get a winning note of ecstasy to end on, despite everything. 

I love the message this series is promoting, and the way it goes about things. Long may it continue.

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