BBC One’s smashing Last Tango in Halifax, which premiered in the UK last fall, is now finally reaching U.S. audiences when it begins to air on PBS this Sunday, September 7. In case you haven’t already seen the six episodes of the first season, here are five reasons why you need to tune in.
1) Meet Caroline, the fiercest middle-aged lesbian you ever did see.
While the technical main storyline of Last Tango is the (straight) love story between two older widowed people, their respective daughters’ lives take up an equal amount of screentime. And one of those daughters, Caroline, played by Sarah Lancashire, ends up really stealing the spotlight. While she seems cold and uptight at first, after you see her tell off some arrogant men right and good a few times, you start to fall in love with her. And when you see her vulnerability start to peek through the cracks of her put-together exterior as she starts to accept her fully realized sexuality, you just fall head over heels. Not only is she the best middle-aged lesbian I’ve ever seen portrayed on TV (of which there aren’t enough), she’s one of the best lesbians I’ve ever seen portrayed on TV, ever.
Plus, the fact that she’s headmistress at a swanky British private school gives off some majorly hot Hogwarts vibes, like a younger, even more dykey sister of Professor McGonagall.
On top of all this, her love interest, Kate, is played by half-Nigerian Nina Sosanya, adding one more lesbian of color to a sorely lacking field.
Note: If you start watching and feel like there isn’t enough Caroline and Kate time in the first couple episodes, just wait; it gets much better.
2) Nicola Walker’s eyes.
One of my favorite things about this show is that it constantly turns your expectations on their silly heads. When I watched the first episode, I totally expected Nicola Walker’s character to be the dyke, as she swings axes and makes fences out of boulders and fixes tractors on her farm, all while wearing flannel and a look of rigid determination on her face. And in the middle of that face are those eyes! Even if she’s not a lesbian here, we can still appreciation those eyes. And everything else.
Nicola Walker has been all over the place in the last year or two and picking up awards she rightly deserves, playing diverse roles with a ridiculous precision each time. This character, for instance, is starkly different from the goofball Justine she also played last year on Sue Perkins’ Heading Out. She’s now ranked as one of my favorite living actresses.
3) Oldies falling in love!
Even if we tune in for Caroline, it’s hard not to also be swept up by the sweetness of oldies falling in love, particularly with the earnest and adorable Alan, played by Derek Jacobi. His romance with Cecilia, played by Anne Reid, will melt even the most steely hearts. And if it doesn’t, well, you should probably allow your heart a little more meltiness. We won’t judge.
4) Sally. Wainwright.
After viewing both Last Tango and Scott and Bailey, both of which Sally Wainwright had a steady hand in creating, directing, and writing, I firmly believe she can do no wrong. She’s the writer of every one of these six episodes, which is probably why each episode is so consistently good. We need to champion players like her that are crafting such high quality television full of complex, interesting women.
5) Sweeping British vistas.
The cinematography of Last Tango—just like the writing, acting, and directing—is gorgeous, including at least a few breathtaking shots per episode of never-ending green pastures and country roads, often bleak yet beautiful, along with scenes in small town coffee shops and pubs so intimate and comfy you can practically feel golden warmth emanating through your TV.
I recapped Last Tango last year; you can find the first episode here. However, I will be re-watching the episodes as they air on PBS, and will livetweet them with the hashtag #LesboTango. Follow @daffodilly to play along!