Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet

A lovely and faithful adaptation of the trailblazing Victorian lesbian novel

7.4

TV Show

English
Drama
2002
Jodhi May, Keeley Hawes, Rachael Stirling
60 min

TLDR

My only complaint is that there are only three episodes. BBC, Britain, the United Kingdom, heck, maybe even Park Chan-wook… have you considered a new adaptation today?

What it's about

After falling in love with a male impersonator, former oyster girl Nan Astley follows her to London, starting as her dresser, but eventually eking out a life as a performer and activist.

The take

Before Park Chan-wook adapted her novel Fingersmith in The Handmaiden, author Sarah Waters wrote Tipping the Velvet, her debut novel that painted the life of lesbian women in Victorian London. Surprisingly, this controversial novel was produced and broadcast by the BBC in 2002, sticking faithfully to the plot, with all the racy sex scenes and relaxed depiction of lesbian life that shocked the public at the time, but over the years, the miniseries has become known as the refreshing classic that shifted the way lesbians were depicted on screen. While primarily centered on white women, Tipping the Velvet changed the way Victorian sexuality was depicted, with the joy, sensuality, and happiness in Waters’ passionate narrative.

What stands out

This is actually the first time I’ve seen Victorian era lesbians (The Favourite would count, though Queen Anne is before the Victorian era, so it doesn’t fit the definition), and it’s so interesting to see their lives depicted on screen, a history that was erased and ignored until recently.

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