A look at my Netflix queue looks something like Period Films 101. I love a good costume drama–the more corsets and bustles, the better–so I’ve decided to start blogging about these. I blog about one of my pastimes, why don’t I blog about this one?
I recently watched Berkeley Square, a drama set in Edwardian London that follows the travails of three nannies: straight-laced and dedicated Matty, naive but loyal Lydia, and troubled Hannah. Each nanny has her own story, their lives coming together as they enter the tight-knit community of nannies that serve the families of Berkeley Square. Despite the differences in their character, the three women bond over the difficulties of their position as women and servants. The series raises issues of social justice for women and the working class, as well as the question of women’s right to experience love when serving in a profession that requires complete dedication to the demands of one’s employer.
I was surprised by some of the issues raised by the series. Hannah’s story in particular raises several issues concerning women’s tenuous position as mothers and workers during this era. An unwed mother, Hannah finds herself in trouble when her child’s father, her only protector, dies in an accident. Struggling to keep her child safe, Hannah is forced to leave little Billy in another’s care before she can take up her post as nanny. Keeping her child secret from her employer and friends, Hannah acts as a mother for the children in her care, but is unable to do the same for her own child.
The series is a must-watch for any lover of period pieces. The storyline is intriguing and illustrative of a slice of Edwardian life that is often overlooked. Think of it as The Nanny Diaries with prams and prying nursemaids.