A couple of weeks ago I was lying in bed after a long day at work and decided to turn on my TV to see what was on to watch. The channel was already on BBC 1 – I turn the news on every morning while I get ready for work – and what I saw when I turned the TV on was oddly captivating. I caught the part of last week’s episode where Gemma and Simon are having sex in their living room – literally all around the room. And it wasn’t the sex that caught my attention, it was the fact that when they had finished, they both flung themselves onto opposite sides of the room and didn’t say a word. I remember watching the scene trying to figure out who they were – lovers? Partners? Strangers just randomly hooking up? But it was so obvious from the way that they behaved afterwards that there was some kind of history between them and since that day, I found myself determined to watch the series from the beginning and figure out what was going on.
So we go all the way back to the start of it all. First episode and they’re playing Oh Wonder “Drive” which is one of my favourites! You see a happily married couple’s morning routine – sex, breakfast, acknowledge their son, work out which one is driving the son to school and then go to work. They have a beautiful home – modern but homely. Nice cars parked on the driveway. Both look very well presented and Simon looks decent for his age, Gemma looks beautiful. Like the type of mum that is that perfect balance between mum and still very attractive to both men her age and probably men slightly younger too. So all in all, everything seems just as you would want it to be. Until Gemma mentions that she can’t find her scarf or that it doesn’t match her outfit and her loving husband tells her to borrow his for the day, because its black and will go with everything. Quick kiss on the cheek, adoring smile and she’s out the door. In her Hyundai (which I actually love, by the way!) and off she goes to work.
But what do you do when you’re taking off your coat at work, hanging everything up onto the hook behind your office door and you notice a long blonde hair on your husband’s scarf. Considering that you are not blonde yourself and your hair is barely shoulder length, its not unreasonable to wonder whose hair it might be. And when you think back over your perfect morning and remember the cherry lip balm that fell out of your husband’s suit pocket, that you knew wasn’t his and made a joke about with him, you might start to question whether your husband is cheating on you.
If any boys read my blog they will probably be thinking how crazy this thought process is. What if he put his scarf down in the wrong place in the office and some random woman’s hair ended up drifting down and clinging to it? Or what if, in a rush, he accidentally bumped into a blonde woman on his way into the office that morning? These are scenarios that anyone, man or woman, could find themselves in. But let me tell you now, for free, that it’s perfectly fine for you to accidentally bump into a blonde woman on the way to work, but if your husband does, it’s going to be a problem. And in Doctor Foster, it was just the beginning of a very long line of problems.
I think the best thing about Doctor Foster is that Gemma is such an oxymoron. She has a great job as a GP at the local surgery. She has a beautiful home. A husband who owns his own property development business. A really cute son. Yet, despite the fact that her whole day revolves around helping others, pretty much all of her life she has been the one that has needed help. Having lost her parents when she was something like 15 and ran away to start her own life, there are clearly some deep rooted problems that have never been fully addressed. And yes, even though she ran away she certainly did do pretty well for herself. But then again, her husband had been cheating on her with a twenty something blonde girl – for over a year. Oh and he got her pregnant. And to make things worse, he later married her. So it’s all pretty messed up really.
I love how ridiculous Gemma is all of the time. She drives around without one of her wing mirrors for a good few episodes and she is never doing the speed limit. She breaches all of her regulations as a doctor by, firstly, providing unnecessary examinations on Kate (the woman who her husband has been sleeping with for two years) who is not her patient; secondly, she dispenses drugs to one of her actual patients that she didn’t medically require, to bribe her into following her husband for her; thirdly, by completely disregarding patient confidentially and telling Kate’s parents over dinner that their daughter is pregnant with her husband’s child. And what made the whole first series even worse when it reached this shocking climax, was the fact that Simon didn’t get in the car and go home with his wife Gemma to try and fix things. He got into Kate’s little Ford Fiesta or whatever it was, I can’t remember, and went to stay with her instead!
It gets worse. A lot worse. When Tom turned up to Kate’s house some days later because Gemma maliciously sent him there to go and see for himself what his father was up to, Simon came downstairs in a dressing gown and then tried to deny to his teenage son that he was having sex with Kate. I mean really Simon? Could we be anymore obvious? “She’s just a friend I’m staying with,” I remember he told her. Oh, the lies some men tell are truly appalling.
But then Gemma goes and sleeps with their accountant. One, because she can and two, because Simon has proven how easily influenced some men can be with sex and three, because she probably convinces herself that it will make her feel better. Does it? I’m not too sure, but what it does do, is allow her to bribe him into telling them everything that’s going on with their finances. Turns out Simon has used up all of her savings and will basically be bankrupt very shortly if a certain deal in his company falls through. So not only is she at risk of losing her husband to another woman, she’s at risk of losing the gorgeous picture perfect life she has built for herself for so many years too.
Overall, I think the programme is a captivating portrayal of a very dysfunctional family – with lots of twists and turns that really keep you begging for the next episode. Something that started with one very selfish act spirals out of control across two very engaging seasons. It’s a really emotional journey and you become so attached to the characters and the story that by the time it got round to this week’s season finale, I was literally sobbing. It wasn’t an ending I expected at all but it made so much sense. It was the only conclusion really that could have made both Simon and Gemma suffer. As much as I adore Gemma Foster, she did deserve some punishment for her absolutely shocking parenting at times. And Simon’s parenting need not even be raised as a point of discussion – it was not parenting at all. Calling your son mate in every sentence doesn’t make you closer or a good father, fyi Simon.
The last episode, showing a broken family, really struck a chord with me. The whole time and pretty much throughout this whole second series I have just been thinking about Tom. He looked distraught throughout the whole thing and I could completely relate to how he was feeling. It’s horrible when you know that there are other people out there living in perfect two parent families. Sometimes you just look at them and there’s this void that you know can’t ever be filled because the time has passed. It’s one of those things that when an adult tells you you can have anything you want in life, you know that with this, it just doesn’t apply. You’ll never have it and you’ll never be able to take back some of the most poignant memories of your childhood either. So, as entertaining as I found all of Gemma’s scheming and manipulation to get back at her cheating ex-husband and his Barbie doll new wife, I felt this cloud of empathy for Tom just lingering throughout it all. In that final episode, over breakfast, you could just tell it was all over.
I have given away some spoilers in this post, but at the end of the day, me mentioning what happens at a few points in the programme is not going to ruin the whole experience for you. Bearing in mind, I watched last week’s episode (which was probably one of the most revealing episodes I could have stumbled across) before I’d watched anything else and I still wanted to watch the whole thing. Which I managed to binge watch in a week and you’ll know that that is very unusual for me. I watched it all just in time to watch the final episode live yesterday and here I am gushing about it and telling you all to watch it too!
With Doctor Foster finished now and no certainty really on when the next series will be, I’ve had to make alternative arrangements for things to watch. British dramas are absolutely killing it at the moment and between Doctor Foster’s Simon and Liar’s Andrew Earlham, it’s difficult to decide who I hate more. A discussion on Liar will be coming shortly – I’m currently too emotionally unstable from the shocking discoveries of this week’s episode to address that now. But these two programmes are my top picks at the moment – so if you haven’t watched them, you absolutely need to!