Two scenes this week – couldn’t choose between them. Very different stories, but both about expanding the family tree.
We’ve got a new shoot on the Dobbs lineage, but daddy Tyrone doesn’t yet know that it was likely a graft.
Molly hanging on, wanting Tyrone to be there before she went to the hospital and before she gave birth. The people she most didn’t want there – Kevin and Sally – were. Sally was trying to keep her from having the baby on the spot, in the living room. Kevin was looking like he’d rather be anywhere than where he was. Molly was throwing dagger looks at him and snarky comments. Sally, for once, was just trying to help.
I was thinking who is this situation worse for – Molly or Sally? In the moment, it’s gotta be Molly. Having probably Kevin’s baby, while Kevin’s wife is acting as her midwife and Kevin himself is there in the room with you and her.
But when the truth comes out, about Kevin and Molly’s affair, what is that going to be like for Sally? Realizing she helped deliver her husband’s child. I think that’s much worse, realizing you’ve been betrayed and that you, willingly and unwittingly, aided and comforted your betrayer.
And the coda to this scene, the lovely moment that brought tears to my eyes was Jack Duckworth holding the baby, and hearing that he’d be named Jack Dobbs. The look on Jack’s face. And that lucky baby: he has the best granddad and dad in the world, even if both of them are social kin rather than biological.
Barlow Oak Tree
The other scene involving lineage: the ever-expanding branches of the Ken Barlow “oak tree” as Peter called his dad. Seeing Ken’s son Lawrence and grandson James together with Ken was wonderful. In the story it was great, but even greater knowing that both characters are played by Bill Roache’s real life sons. That too made my eyes misty.
A show where an original character, first portrayed by a young man of 21 or something, now can show three generations with that actor’s own grown-up family. I think that’s just fabulous for the Roache family and the Coronation Street family, both production and viewer.
In terms of the storyline, they’re also harking back to the origins of the Street – its characterizations and literary references. We met Ken in conflict with his father over beliefs and values. Their clash was over social class, and yes, Susan, mother of Lawrence was involved. Fifty years later, Ken is trying to arbitrate between his son and grandson in their clash in values and ways of life. Their clash is over sexual orientation.
The scene of them sitting around Lawrence’s kitchen table arguing about change and social norms is a kind of upscale version of the “kitchen sink realism” of Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, a dramatic form and era that influenced Coronation Street. And I could almost hear Neil Young’s anthem from the next era, “Old man, look at my life. I’m a lot like you were.”