Saturday, 7 November 2015

Cathy and Nessa, the sister dynamic

Reposted from State of the Street with permission.

Cathy was introduced to us first, on Coronation Street. She was brought in as a recent widow, shy, not very confident and having had her world tossed upside down by the loss of her husband of many years (wasn't it 30 or more?). She probably had the hoarding habit before her Alan died but his death brought it out in full force.

It wasn't all just junk either, it sounded as if she had been on a spending spree, particularly in second hand shops, picking up old items that might be useful someday. She was living amidst clutter that rose so high in some parts of her house that she had to climb up to look out the window and, likely do to this over spending, the bailiffs were at the door.

Roy Cropper lent his support and their friendship and his encouragement seem to have settled her down. She's enjoying life again and looking to her future with a glimmer of hope. Tyrone, Fiz and Chesney packed up her living room but presumably the rest of the house was still aclutter when she moved back in. The hoarding hasn't been mentioned and neither have the bailiffs, something that I guess the storyliners have hoped we've forgotten. I expect now that she's moved home, she's making an effort to clear out her house.

Enter her 28 year old nephew, Alex who showed up at the cafe one day. How he knew that she was living there, we were never told but presumably she did mention it to Alex's mother, her sister, Nessa. But Alex didn't tell his mother where he'd gone. He might be 28 but he's also got Down's Syndrome and once we met his mother, it became clear that she's got a tendency to be overprotective of him, something he seems to be chafing against. There may be a point, though, because he doesn't seem to understand how worried his mother would get when he takes off without notice. In my books, if you're living with someone, you let them know if you won't be coming back overnight or if you'll be later than expected.

Now we meet Nessa and we can see that the two sisters are very different from each other. Where Cathy is quiet, artistic, sympathetic and kind, Nessa is jolly, outgoing, selfish and vibrant. Cathy was married for 30+ years, but Nessa, a live wire, was divorced and is being portrayed as a man-eater. She's certainly enforcing that with her single minded persuit of recent widower, Ken Barlow. That in itself will tell you that she's not thinking of anyone but herself. This isn't a friendship blossoming like Audrey's feelings, this is a woman determined to latch on to a single man, never mind that he's still in heavy grief over his late wife. She's acting a bit like a preying mantis, and Cathy, who values her new friend Ken, is embarassed.

Cathy and Nessa have already had a few confrontations over her persuit of Ken and Cathy has expressed several times that this is not a new thing for Nessa. If she was a man, we'd be calling her a ladies' man who can't keep it in his pants. Calling her a "man's woman" doesn't have the same effect so we use a more mysogenistic term "man eater" which is unfortunate but does get the picture across.

Aside from her unwise quest, I do like Nessa. I like the actor and the character's personality that they've created. I also like the sibling dynamic between Cathy and Nessa, the bickering and the exasperation each seems to carry for the other. Siblings are often very different from each other and quite often there is one that dominates and one that feels pushed to the corner, overwhelmed and jealous of the force of the personality of the one that's always the center of attention. As children, that's difficult at times.

It's also not unusual for that jealousy to hang on into adulthood. It may temper down a lot as the siblings mature and live their own lives but there's always that little fleck of it in the background that rears its ugly head now and then. Cathy was probably always envious of Nessa's ease in social situations and jealous that she always had lots of boyfriends and friends where she herself probably only had a couple of close mates. Perhaps Alan was her first and only love. She wouldn't regret that at all, looking back but as a teenager, while she may have been happy to spend Saturday night in with a good book, may still have been a bit green with her sister rushing around getting ready to go out on yet another date, wishing it were easier for her to talk to boys and have them like her as much.

And maybe we'll also find out that Nessa was jealous of Cathy and her long time stable marriage with a man that loved her very much. Maybe each of them regarded things in the other that they wished were part of their own personality or lives. Nessa loves her son but Cathy never was tied down to the responsibility of a child nor had to bring up a child with disabilities. Cathy would have loved to have a child dearly under any circumstances although if Nessa has always been as flighty as she seems, I think probably Cathy was a second mother to Alex.

I will be interested to see if more of the sister dynamic is explored at all, even if just in dialogue during an argument or conversation one of them has with someone else, that will reveal more insight to each woman. I am not sure I'd like to see Ken and Nessa go the distance only because Nessa isn't really that sympathetic by running after Ken. He's a lonely, grieving man and wouldn't have looked twice at her as other than a new friend but she's determined to draw him in and I can't help thinking it will end in tears.

Meanwhile, it's amusing to see Audrey having Nessa, her rival, working in the Salon and flirting with Ken right under her nose. I can't wait for Tracy to find out and I think Nessa might have met her match there. I don't know how long Nessa is meant to be with the show but I wouldn't mind if they kept her on even if the duo with Ken doesn't last.

Tvor (Twitter @tvordlj)

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Anonymous said...

I don't know why but Ken & Nessa (not on the street) work better together for me, rather than Ken & Audrey. Audrey should remain a really good friend and the writers really shouldn't push them together. How awkward would it be if Ken & Audrey get together then something happens and they don't work out? Even worse than Gail & Michael. And since he is supposedly leaving the show, it obviously didn't work out at all. Even pushing him towards Eileen didn't work.

njblas said...

Michael is just taking a break, but will return...

Hopeful said...

I do not like Nessa at all! They do not match for me and I know it's because of her face lol- I don't mean to be judgmental but I just don't like it! Oh and her voice too!

Anonymous said...

Hoarding is often triggered by grief and loss, as individuals turn to stuff to fill the void left by someone they love and/or cling to the memories associated with objects. I don't think there's any reason to believe that Cathy's hoarding existed before her husband's death, particularly if he passed many years ago. That's plenty of time to fill up a house.

Tvor said...

He'd only been dead less than a year when we met her at the allottment. There seemed to be way too much stuff in that house for 6 months' worth of grief and I think she may have mentioned that it was there before but had got much worse.

Diane said...

I may be in the minority but I dont like the lot of them... Cathy, Alex or Nessa.

Pippa Dee said...

Well Diane, I don't mind Cathy in small doses but haven't taken to Nessa or Alex I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

So both of the sisters are selfish and needy...

Anonymous said...

Diane,You're not alone as I don't like Cathy, or Nessa either.I find Cathy to be clingy and her friendship to relationship with Roy rather rushed nor do I like Nessa more or less stalking Ken and Audrey pushed aside in favour of her.
I hope Audrey isn't seen as the 'villain'coming between Ken and Nessa because of Alex.
I also don't like Izzy another handicapped character being pushed aside because of Alya while Alex is featured more because Cathy and Nessa are linked to Ken and Roy.

Marg said...

Can the writers come up with another story line other than Ken and Audrey. It seems that everyone on the street has had an affair with everyone else on the street. No imagination. It's getting so predictable and boring. I've followed this show from the 60's but find I'm skipping it alot.

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