The show is oriented around Hyacinth and her three sisters, each with an appropriate flower name. There’s Violet, who married a rich man, but who is not happy with him. (The running joke that her husband is a crossdresser may be the aspect of the show that’s aged the worst.) Ostensibly the most fortunate sister but the least connected to the community, she’s usually only present through phone calls. Then, there’s Daisy, who married working class bum, Onslow, and lives in a shabby house, along with Rose, an aging debutante whose life is procession of ill-fated romances, and their Daddy, a frail fellow about ninety who has no lines, but whose dementia does not stop him from getting about town and into trouble, especially with the ladies. The core group is rounded out with Hyacinth’s long-suffering and easy-going husband, Richard, and her terrified neighbors, Elizabeth and Emmett, and the young vicar, who does his best to run away when he spots her.
Hyacinth is an awful person to be around, and our current popular culture would probably say cut her off. (Yes, I am writing a book on cutoffs.) She’s a toxic narcissist, social media would observe, and to tolerate her would be toxic codependency. If this were real life, they’d say, the family should shun her, Richard divorce her, and nobody give her any truck. And, yes, that would be one way to shut her up. It would also be deeply destructive and tragic, fracturing core, loving relationships. Her community has chosen a different approach, and by no means a perfect one: they have chosen to tolerate her. They have chosen, more or less, to accept her as a reality of the community’s life.( Read more… )