We met Doctor Gemma Foster on screen in the first of five episodes almost six weeks ago. Like thousands across the nation, I was instantly obsessed. Even at work, it consumed many of my conversations and we couldn’t wait for the next instalment. For those who have been asleep since early September, Dr. Foster is a wild five part drama (catch up on BBC iPlayer) which sees Suranne Jones playing a beautiful 30-something, successful Senior GP. Her life is shattered when she suspects her husband is having an affair.
As the audience we befriend Gemma. She’s attractive yet relatively unthreatening and plays the dutiful, thoughtful wife superbly. However, it’s Suranne’s expert delivery of lines and portrayal of Gemma that instantly gets you on side. Gemma’s tone of voice and tenderness with her son, her professional at-work demeanour and her calm, chilled out attitude. But it’s when Suranne notices a blonde hair on her husbands scarf, (she’s brunette) that she begins to suspect something, thus tumbling into a crisis of distrust, uncertainty and doubt.
So what made the BBC create a drama based around infidelity? A drama where sentences like “Darling, all men cheat it’s just some get caught” pop up. Where the woman scorned saves up for her ultimate revenge rather than reacting like many of us would (smash plates, throw things, scream, cry)…
Well actually, it’s not that surprising they aired this gripping, adultery themed piece. Did you know that according to e-Harmony, 50% of men cheat. Shocking isn’t it? Although not the most accurate of sources, it still surprises me that the proportion is so high. You only have to read those brightly coloured ‘surgery results’ fed in flashes across pages in glossy magazines to know that the sad truth is, people do cheat. I’ve read that in the US, roughly 30-60% of all married individuals engage in infidelity at some point and it’s more common in those under 30.
What’s most worrying however is that the majority of affairs go uncovered. Well actually, is that worrying? Is it true that what you don’t know can’t hurt you? In Doctor Fosters case, it was actually going on for two years without her knowledge and she seemed rather happy in comparison, right? In a book by K.G. Anderson, what I found most disturbing is that in their large study, 2-3% of all children were the product of an affair. So partners aside, when it does get to this stage you know the family are in trouble?
These statistics are enough to make anybody a bit sceptical about entering into a monogamous relationship. Especially a permanent one (aka marriage). What Dr.Foster carefully demonstrates in this big-brother, ‘fly on the wall’ style drama is that relationships are key. In their case, she married a weak and greedy man who was bad at business and even worse at covering his tracks. He spent her entire life savings, her mums inheritance that had been saved for their sons education and even forged a signature to re-mortgage their home. All behind her back. In their neighbours case, the guy often strayed but the wife knew it and accepted.