There are several reasons to check out one of the newest additions to WGBH Passport, Ballykissangel. You have beautiful scenery, small town drama, hilarious 90’s fashion and some of your favorite actors starting out their careers. While all of those are reasons enough to love this show, the series features a popular plot staple — the forbidden romance.
But this isn’t your "run of the mill meet (cute)," or a "will-they-or-won’t-they saga." This falls distinctly into the category of “they shouldn’t (can't) ... but everyone knows they want to.”
Even if you haven’t seen the show, it’s barely a spoiler to tell you that there are major sparks flying between Peter Clifford (Stephen Tompkinson), BallyK’s new, naive, English priest, and Assumpta Fitzgerald (Dervla Kirwan), the local Irish publican who actively dislikes Catholicism and the English. From the moment they clap eyes on each other – in the rain, no less – you know something is there. Can she overcome her biases? Will he give up his position in the church so they can be together?
You’ll have to watch on WGBH Passport to find out. But If this particular brand of romantic angst is your cup of tea, we’ve got you covered. Read on for a list of five Masterpiece shows that you can stream now – and that we know you’ll love.
If the list hadn’t started here, you’d be well within your rights to stop reading immediately. After all, the parallels between the shows are hard to ignore. On the surface, Sidney and Amanda have fewer impediments to a relationship than their BallyK counterparts, but this is television – even though Sidney is allowed to get married, it just wouldn’t be Masterpiece if he could get his act together. From social status to marriage, to questions of faith, Granchester throws everything but the kitchen sink in the way of these two star-crossed lovers.
It’s almost not fair to include Downton Abbey on this list – practically every love story in the show isn’t allowed for one reason or another. However, fans of Ballykissangel will particularly like two of the couples from Downton: Anna and Mr. Bates, and Sybil and Tom. Anna and Mr. Bates like each other almost immediately, but he’s already married to a vindictive woman who won’t grant him a divorce. Meanwhile, Sybil and Tom are held apart by class and views — not only is it highly unlikely for a woman of the gentry like Sybil to marry a member of the staff, Tom is also an Irish nationalist, making him even more unsuitable for an English aristocrat.
If you are fond of forbidden love, you really can’t top this show, in which one of the main characters is involved in not one, but two star-crossed romances. In the first episode, Aafrin, an Indian civil Servant, is dating Sita, a young Hindu woman. Aafrin's family disapproves of the relationship, as they are Parsi. But after an accidental shooting brings Aafrin closer to Brit Ralph Whelan, the Viceroy’s private secretary, a romance blossoms with Alice, Ralph's married sister. While inter-ethnic marriages were fairly common in this era, Aafrin’s status as a mole for the independence highlights the tension that is inherent in their relationship.
This Masterpiece series is full of star-crossed couples. Rather than spill more digital ink on the Poldark/Demelza/Elizabeth situation (because honestly, every fan of the show has been Monday Morning Quarterbacking that for years), let’s focus on fan-favorites Drake and Morwenna, a couple who were literally forbidden to be together by Elizabeth and George, and when that wasn’t enough, were separated by Morwenna’s forced marriage to the despicable Mr. Whitworth. Will love conquer all?
My Mother and Other Strangers
A classic love triangle and a setting in Ireland? My Mother and Other Strangers is practically made for this list. Set during World War II, the show features the conflict between the safety, security of family and the glamour and excitement of the unknown. The titular mother, Rose, struggles to choose between her passionate feelings for exciting USAAF liaison officer, Captain Dreyfuss, and her loyalty and love for her husband, Michael, and their children.