- Series title: Away From It All
- Created by: Hazel Jeffs
- Starring: Deborah Marie, Anna Lloyd, Edward Gist
- Elevator pitch: As the new owner of a small town pub, Bathsheba Everdene is forced to face her self-esteem and family issues, men who won’t stop falling in love with her, and the initial opposition from her new staff.
- Features: strong female characters, various sets (outside and inside), female friendship, POC rep, asexual rep, chance re-encounter, discussion about the effects of abusive relationships, great ensemble, f/f relationship, transmedia, closed-captioned
I must admit, I am not familiar with the book that this series is based on, “Far from the Madding Crowd.” But AFiA is so delightfully relevant, starring a young woman trying to became a leader and businesswoman in a small town, that it’s hard not to fall in love with it. The story is told from three perspectives: Liddy posts public vlogs in an attempt to escape from her otherwise boring life in a small town she’s never left, Gabriel posts videos on Facebook to keep his friends and family updated as he tries to understand what he actually wants to do with his life after university, and Bathsheba’s private videos on her phone. Rather than ending in a declaration of love, the series starts off with Gabriel telling Bathsheba to give up her life and go with him. As someone who plans to do something with her life, she didn’t take to this kindly and strongly rejected him. So it was a bit awkward when they ended up working at the same pub anyway. But it also gave Gabe the push he needed to begin a series-long character arc of self-examination and realization. Young Liddy loved it, because suddenly things were actually happening. (Also her relationship with her girlfriend Sherry is adorable!!)
Liddy’s fresh and enthusiastic vlogs balance well with the more serious recordings of Bathsheba’s Skype calls with her mother and Gabe’s rants and ramblings. This makes a peculiar contrast later on as Bathsheba becomes involved with Frank Troy, and the audience watches that woman from the beginning who wouldn’t let anyone tear her down succumb to the charms of a man who made their whole relationship about him. Again, unlike previous stories that end in the man or woman ending the abusive relationship, this relationship starts fairly early and the story focuses more on the aftereffects that it had on Bathsheba and her friends. Despite being her employees of the pub she bought, they are her friends, and they support her as she learns more about her sexuality and goals. The set for the pub is beautiful, but in general AFiA provides multiple high-quality locations to keep things interesting. Honestly, the phrase ‘high-quality’ can be used to describe almost all aspects of AFiA, from script to graphics. It’s a coming-of-age story for the post-college grads who still don’t feel like they know what they’re doing.