This uppity, good for nothing, social climbing minx comes from (prepare yourselves) a very humble heritage. And she whispers horrid heresies into her little friends ears: ’I want to make sure tomorrow is better than today, every day’. An outrage!
2018 isn’t a place for nice ladies. It’s a time for conniving, angry women bucking the system and, if possible, looking Instagram-ready all at the same time.
Vanity Fair, ITV
In the hands of Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One), Sharp is neither the sex siren as played by Miriam Hopkins in 1935, or headstrong romantic by Reese Witherspoon in 2004.
Cooke’s Sharp is brash, beautiful and even knows how to ask for a pay raise. We defy you to watch Vanity Fair on ITV this September and not wish from the bottom of your tiny silken shoes that you could become more like Cooke’s Becky Sharp, giving as good as she gets and accidentally bursting seductively out over the top of tiny corsets.
Cooke is by far the best thing about Vanity Fair. But there are plenty of laughs to be found else where. There’s the pompous, idiotic (and, you know, rich) man she has her eye on: Jos Sedley (played with aplomb by David Fynn). Joe takes her to a carnival, gets heroically drunk and starts a fight with those trying to keep him out of Sharp’s money-grabbing clutches.
There’s Miss Pinkerton, the pinched mistress played byDoctor Foster’s Suranne Jones, who attempts to belittle and chastise Becky (who doesn’t take it very well) at the school where we first meet Sharp’s simpering friend Amelia (Claudia Jessie).
Throughout, there’s a whole host of rude, racist, snobbish, idiotic, malevolent and gullible characters for Sharp to seduce, charm or cast aside in her quest of self-improvement. All are adorned in gorgeous empire lines or red coats – if cooing over period dress is what Sunday nights are all about for you – and set against an edgy soundtrack.
The William Thackeray we meet at the start of each episode (Michael Palin) reminds us that this is ‘not a moral place… Everyone is striving for what is not worth having’.
Well, whatever Thackeray. Time has changed your scheming social climber into a veritable heroine, unbuckled by societal expectations and feminine constraints.
It’s going to be hard to choose between watching Vanity Fair on ITV and Bodyguard on BBC One on Sunday nights, because we thoroughly recommend watching both.
Vanity Fair ITV: the show airs at 9 PM on Sundays.