Testimony: Harm

Theatre masks

(Guest post by DS2)

So a few years back I happened upon Holby one Tuesday evening. I had grown up on a steady mix of Casualty and Holby but had not watched either with much dedication in recent years. I noticed immediately that Jemma Redgrave was in it, and being a bit of a Redgrave clan dolt, I immediately sat up and paid attention. It was the episode where Jemma and Catherine were at the station, leaning on the desk talking with Jason about IT or something like that, and well that was that. Here I am, 30 months later, posting a comment on this website as part of my response to and way of dealing with what Holby made me sit through last month.

Let me say at the outset I am a Bernie fan. I liked Serena initially (now I cannot remember why I did), but I adored Bernie. She had all the attributes that I am rather a sucker for, a highly competent professional, with a family, who was not threatened by her equals but made them her friends, and I’m talking proper friends, who was kind to her colleagues. The sort of person I am very happy to spend my time with. And I was absolutely mesmerised by their developing relationship, I felt like I was watching a battle with the two of them against the world. I was rooting for them, and my goodness did Holby make us wait, but we did and were rewarded for about four episodes. No matter I will take those.

Fast forward to June and the love gift to the Berena fans or at least that is what it felt like at the time. On reflection, maybe there were little hints of the rubbish to come, but I ignored it. That kiss in the lobby is seared into my memory and always will be together with the line, “I have seen the scar,” possibly one of the most erotic sentences I have ever heard… seriously.

Then of course we have the December episodes. I will go on record as saying that I do not for one minute believe we will not see Bernie again. I believe she will be back, but I have no idea when or for how long, and maybe Holby don’t know that either. I would love to see her back too, I am not conflicted there either.

What I am conflicted about, however, is whether it is safe for Bernie to come back.I watched the buildup to the December episodes in utter disbelief. It sort of went like this: Leah will not be a romantic interest for Serena; Leah might fancy Serena but Serena will knock her back; Serena might fancy Leah but she won’t act on it; Serena might kiss Leah but she won’t sleep with her; damn, they really went there.

Everything that I knew about Serena was pulled apart and kicked around in the dirt, the scorned woman who detested infidelity, who condemned staff relationships, had a fling with an F1 while Bernie was absent. At this stage I’m still thinking no they wont break them up, Kate Hall said they wouldn’t, Catherine had said as much too. There was no way this was going to end, Bernie was going to forgive her because that is what you do when you love someone. Then of course she does forgive her, but in six minutes at the end of the programme Serena realises that Bernie is not into slippers and doesn’t want to do the bins, and because she loves her so much she says go. Bernie winks and salutes, and Serena does a flipping conga.

I just don’t understand what happened. I feel like I have been tangoed. You know that sort of did that just really happen? Apparently it did because as I got on social media the next day, I saw the carnage. The distress, the sorrow the anger. From old and young and all the in-betweens. It was unbelievable and even now I think I am only starting to understand the human cost of this storyline because that was the ultimate price that was paid by many.

By this I am talking about the rage at yet another lesbian storyline not only spun with such negativity, but kicked into touch. Like the community is incapable of having strong loving relationships with any measure of fidelity. Like we are incapable of building relationships that can cope with distance. Like we are incapable of living this idea – I love you and I chose you and so how do we make this work because I don’t want to lose you. In fact I, think that sounds rather familiar. Then I look at the people who still, some four weeks later are really struggling with this – and some of them have been really badly affected.

This is a television show. Are we meant to say either bravo or maybe yes that challenged me, but not experience abject distress because of careless, inaccurate and insulting representation or harmful narration? Again, the carnage caused by these actions is not acceptable, and this is why I am so up for the fight and why I am supporting this website and its attempts to engage.

I have no doubt about Bernie coming back and maybe these two do eventually marry, but for me, you know, the journey is equally as important as the destination, maybe more so as it determines how you arrive, either tarnished or with your dignity intact. I will take Bernie back, but I will not take her back only to lose her again (well, I will take an off-screen relationship), nor will I take her back in a way that causes more harm. There we have it. I am using the word ‘harm’, which is what I think this comes down to – an issue of harm. Many are fortunate enought not to have experienced harm, but many did, and I for one want an understanding of that harm and how we can avoid this happening again.

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