dOCTOR FOSTER shows us about some of us

An enjoyable TV show dealing with some difficult issues with the main focus being infidelity. We saw how upper – middle class families can be broken up by the weakness of men and the jealous rage of a woman. These days it can be deemed as sexist, or at least backward to put the genders in such crude boxes but there is a reality to some of the stereotypes of the past, and it usually makes for entertaining television at least. Romance and love have been framed typically throughout media history which has limited the concepts to a few worn out ideas. Books, magazines, radio & movies have sold society a clear cut version of what relationships should look like, and because we spend years of our lives sitting in front of the TV and allowing media into our minds, that made up version tends to look eerily familiar each time. To not over complicate narratives, we’re given the good and the bad in nice neat boxes, which make it easy for us to digest as the audience. When the jealous girlfriend shouts at the dopey boyfriend for staring at another girl, we’re given the most obvious action and reactions which appeal to our already preconceived notions about these situations. Maybe it’s a more defined way of connecting with the audience if you portray a scenario which is familiar and clear, but we all know the reality of every relationship disagreement is more complicated than what it seems. Doctor Foster is a successful woman and a budding member of the community whose life is ripped apart when her husband who she shares a child with is revealed to have had a secret lover and a second life. We’re taken on a journey through emotional pain and suffering but left with a reasonable amount of moral ambiguity when it comes to the outcome.

What is it about men, and their struggle to stay faithful to seemingly fulfilling wives that we’ve found so interesting over the years? Doctor Foster showed us the consequences of such actions, and how the damage spreads far beyond the immediate people involved. Friends, family, pets even bystanders can be left with indirectly inflicted wounds after a nasty break-up whilst the stars of the show tear chunks out of each other. It usually starts with one person messing up, which is probably more of a concern now with the access to fuck at the touch of button. The potential devastation of cheating must be worth it then because people know the consequences, but continually do so. We saw the heartbreak from when we were kids and we accidently ended up with two girlfriends in the play ground. We see it in our family lives, friends live and all over TV, it is humiliating and painful to go through someone cheating on you, a type of emotional pain which changes people forever. We strive to not have it happen to us, but the temptation is extremely compulsive, and when there’s a void in your current relationship, desire can be quite filling. So filling indeed, that the fallout doesn’t compare, and I know that there a bunch of different reasons to why people are unfaithful, but I can imagine a majority of cheaters aren’t satisfied with an element of their existing relationship. Do happy people cheat? I wouldn’t assume so.

Once all the dirty laundry has been aired and the shit settles people have to make decisions on what to do then after. Should I stay or should I go? In Doctor Forster’s case, she was distraught but wanted to give it another ago. She was willing to overlook the infidelity, the second life, ignore the embarrassment and forgive her husband if he admitted what he was doing. It was one thing to cheat, but another thing to run around the house acting as if everything was normal. Spoiler alert – it turns out he was cheating for two years, which is crazy to think about. As I’ve gotten older, I can understand if one person in a relationship slips up one night, but it should be entirely unforgivable for your partner to be in a secondary relationship for more than two years. It’s the feeling of knowing your other half has fucked someone else, come home and then at some point fucked you, hopefully with at least a shower in between. Unfortunately for Doctor Foster, her husband continued to lie and inevitably they parted ways and she became a crazy psycho bitch fucking with every part of his life, ultimately driving him to considering suicide. The forgiving nature of Doctor Foster was interesting as you saw the pendulum swing from hope to desperation and then to emphatically blow up to pieces. Foster puts the pieces back together by going on a tirade of terror which actually starts to make her look mentally unstable as the show progresses. She puts all of her energy into vengeance, which is probably what a lot of people do after being a victim of infidelity. Cheat back if you get cheated on, but it will never resolve that pain. It would’ve probably been better if Doctor Foster moved on quickly instead rolling around in the broken marriage mess, but she just couldn’t help herself. Plus it would’ve been a less interesting TV show if once she released she was cheated on she packed up and took her son to go and live in Dorset.¬†

Excitement and extremities are what we yearn for from our high level TV shows, so a mundane outcome wouldn’t make for a good watch. Doctor Foster is a complicated character who we initially feel sorry for but through the course of the show we become unsympathetic as she responds to the heartbreak she’s put through. The highest level of inter marital humiliation lead to a well positioned member of a quiet community to morph into a stoic villain throughout the series. We were brought to the edges of the pain and suffering Doctor Foster had to go through allowing us to heavily empathise with her situation. Cheating is common place in our highly sexualised world of today, so we connect with the hurt Doctor Foster suffers, and parts of our own moral compasses sympathises with the vengeful path she takes, because ultimately it portrays a balancing out of the initial pain she suffered. The feelings we have for the characters ¬†undulate as we’re shown the true colours of tortured souls. We get to explore the drives that push human beings to behave in seemingly dubious ways, but we soon realise that even our own assertions cannot always be relied upon. True we’ve only seen one side of the story, as we don’t know the full story about why Doctor Foster was cheated on, but the detailed dialogue unravels the reality that people have to go through when shit like this happens. Things that are said throughout the show are definitely in the minds of people living in the real world today, but a lot of the time never said. Doctor Foster, the show, even with its extreme mood swings offered up an interesting reflection of the contemporary psyche amongst a certain demographic today.

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