We are not sure if it is love or the search for love that is that ‘blighted’ thing. Half the stories of this world don’t exist because people fall in love but because they want to, and the insight we have gotten into the lives of the characters in The Buccaneers tells us exactly that. But first of all, we would like to say that if you are watching this show, it would be worth your time to check out The Gilded Age. The settings are similar, and outwardly, it looks like a case of economics through love. But at the heart of them both, it is a battle over which rich people’s problems are worse. The Buccaneers lacks the endearing and stylish silliness of The Gilded Age and is a lot more pretentiously modern, but watching the two shows side by side is an altogether different experience, one that adds to the other in a rather interesting way. While you do that, we will go through the recap of the first episode.
Why do the American girls come to London?
We have never quite understood the cultural differences between the English and the Americans, except for their accent. There is an awareness that the English are supposed to be more sophisticated and have greater manners, but there is doubt about whether time hasn’t been an equalizer.
The protagonist of the show is Nan, and she tells us right away that she is an unwilling protagonist and that this is not a love story. After all, she is different from other girls but respects them from the bottom of her heart. Conchita is getting married, and her fiancé, Richard Marable, is nowhere to be seen. They had a great but short romance, and Conchita is pregnant, though she hasn’t told Richard about it. When he finally does show up, it is to give Nan a letter to say that he cannot marry Conchita. However, Nan talks him out of it and tells him to have courage in his love. That convinces Richard, and he ends up marrying Conchita. If only Conchita wasn’t pregnant, we wonder if Nan would have let him go. But then, that would have been a scandal of a different kind and would have still been devastating for Conchita.
At the wedding party, Nan’s mother (Patricia) and the Elmsworths are invited to visit London so that they may explore the London marital market for themselves. Patricia is thrilled at the offer because she is finding it difficult to navigate matches in New York because of their ‘new money’ status. This is the beginning of the clash between the English and American ways of life. The overall vibe of this clash is that the American women are a lot more vocal and lively as compared to the English way of life, and that is enough for the noses to be upturned at their arrival.
How is London for the American ladies?
The Buccaneers Episode 1 is pretty much about understanding who is going to play which character. When the girls reach London, Nan sees that Conchita isn’t her usual happy self anymore. She is quite far along in her pregnancy, and the love of the summer hasn’t lasted into the marriage. Richard wants her to tone herself down for London society, and it also looks like she has largely been alone during her pregnancy while Richard has continued with his active social life, taking care to stay away from her. Conchita also mentions that her new family seems to look down on her because of her skin color. We wish this had been discussed more because our perception has been that one of the reasons Richard is leaving Conchita alone is because of the strife in his house and his not wanting to take sides. One of the many reasons for Conchita’s acceptance into his family was because she had wealth, something that a lot of the English lords seemed to be lacking and wanted from their American wives. But that hasn’t stopped them from looking down on the ‘new money’ aspect of them. Should we assume that they are thinking that new money people prove to be easier targets than old money folks? If so, why? We would really like a discussion on this in the series.
Meanwhile, Jinny is furious because Nan seems to be getting a lot of attention from the lords and the others. Jinny is angry because Nan has always acted disinterested in these matters, yet in an area where Jinny is supposed to shine, Nan is in the spotlight. That makes her especially insecure, as Jinny has been led to believe that the only thing she has to offer is her good looks, which places her on edge when that doesn’t get her what she wants. In a fit of anger, she reveals to Nan that she is the daughter of their father and one of his mistresses, who was adopted by Patricia to avoid scandal.
Does Theo fall in love with Nan?
Nan is having a good time, or, should we say, she is a ‘complicated’ woman who ‘doesn’t chase but attracts.’ This Instagram trend has distastefully found its way into Edith Warton’s unfinished classic, or maybe this was the way of the world right from the beginning. Nam first runs into Guy Thwarte, who hasn’t told her his name yet, and they both like each other almost instantly. Guy attends Richard’s wedding, and he has to immediately go back because his mother is on her deathbed. That is one of the more tragic but true excuses to get out of a date. Nan meets him again at the ball in London, and they hit it off again, partly because of Nan’s distaste for how the women are being treated like cattle and partly because he is the only familiar and friendly face she recognizes there. The attraction between them is quite clear, and had Nan continued to be in London, she may have seen more of him. It was perhaps a lucky thing that she was sent away to distract attention from Jinny, because we come to know that Guy is wooing the ‘American Girl’ with ulterior motives.
At the end of The Buccaneers Episode 1, we see that while taking a swim, Nam runs into Theo. He is being pressured to get married, but he doesn’t want to because he hasn’t found a girl who doesn’t care about his title. Since that is proving impossible, he is making bad paintings by the sea to relieve his frustration when he meets Nan. We are not sure if Nan was attracted to him, but Theo was certainly interested. He even told her his name, unlike Guy. But Nan says that she is going back to New York, so this is that era’s version of a missed Bumble match for Theo. Maybe they will meet again, and Nan will have a choice, despite ‘not being interested.’
The first episode of The Buccaneers only promises that this might be a decent show. Our expectations are dangerously average, and it will be a while before we give this a standing ovation.