If you asked someone who knows me what I enjoy the most, they'd probably say "her wife, her sister, her cats, women's basketball, and Gentleman Jack" — and they'd be correct. Today marks my 14th year as a professional lesbian television writer, and in that time, I have never seen a show that has enthralled me as much as HBO's biographical series on real-life Anne Lister has. It's her wits, her compassion, her curiosity, and her impatience, it's her top hat, the competence, the drive, the unrelenting desire, the way she steps closer to every woman as a seduction tactic and to every male as a threat, it's her wits, her compassion, her curiosity, and her impatience.
Ann's aunt, who adored Anne Lister until she turned her niece gay; Anne's former lover Mariana Lawton, who brings the lesbian D R A M A to Shibden Hall; every man in Halifax, who is rightly terrified of what Anne Lister will do with Ann Walker's money; and, on rare occasions, Anne's own family, who aren't so sure about Anne making Ms. Walker the benefactor of the Lister estate. This final issue is especially difficult for Marian, played by Gemma Whelan, whose suitors are often turned away by her elder sister, leaving her in a pickle if (when) Anne dies. Even Anne's adoring aunt has reservations about Ann moving in and the situation.
Gentleman Jack doesn't hold back in showcasing Anne Lister's more troublesome personality traits, such as being a landlord and coal miner and a Shane McCutcheon/Bette Porter hybrid who has no qualms about expressing worry over her own wife's "insipidity" and lusting after every petticoat that walks by, just like last season. But that's what makes the show amazing; that's who Anne Lister was, and her money is the only reason we have her diaries, which she wrote in code and stashed away in the walls of the house she owned.
There's also a lot of lesbian sex and man-bashing, which is always entertaining. I screamed when Anne Lister's boot dropped and the jaunty theme song played. I As I watched, I could feel myself becoming queerer, every fibre of my body and spirit becoming more spiffy and vibrant. I still think Jack-the-lass is the gayest thing I've ever seen on TV.