Saturday, 9 January 2016

There's something about Mary

I sat watching through my fingers last night as Mary Taylor led Brendan up Dev's stairs. It's not the thought of Mary having a physical relationship that bothers me, more the turn this storyline has taken. I'm still in two minds on whether I like it or not.

Don't get me wrong, it's great that the writers have finally given Mary something more substantial to do. For some years now she has been wheeled out occasionally as the Weatherfield eccentric. Sure she gets her fair share of excellent, albeit rather ludicrous dialogue to deliver, but you always end up wanting more from Mary because we know Patti Clare can do it justice. The hilarious eccentric bit has frequently danced precariously into the sinister and I'm no fan of this. The bizarre Norris kidnap of a few years ago and that awful motorhome turned me against Mary which is deeply unfair on the actress who portrays her. 

Deep down Mary is a rather lonely lady approaching middle age. She has made her home in Coronation Street and her bond with Dev and his children is touching (if we forget that ludicrous subplot with Julie last year). As a viewer, you get the feeling life hasn't been easy for Mary but regardless, she has a youthful, cheerful optimism most of the time and an appealing naivety when all around her stalks the likes of Carla Connor and Kylie Platt. For some reason Mary was always put with the more mature residents of Coronation Street and while her scenes with Emily, Norris and Rita are generally good fun, it does seem rather odd that she's not with characters more her own age. This was addressed in the programme by Mary herself not that long ago before she embarked on her current plot line with the rather rancid, randy Brendan.

Despite the bonkers side to Mary, I care about the character and that is down to Patti Clare. She captures real moments of pathos when give the chance. When Brendan stood her up in that hotel over Christmas, my heart really did go out to her. She knows she's chasing a dream and rather than deal with the reality, she continues to be an old fashioned romantic. I also enjoy seeing Rita and Norris really care for Mary, showing proper concern rather than ridiculing her or sending her up. They are almost acting as parents at the moment and it's a nice dynamic, making a change from the usual nasty Norris. 

We all know Mary is heading for heartbreak as Brendan is not going to do the right thing by her. Perhaps Mary sees this as her one chance for happiness and is therefore going for it despite the truth of the situation. Ted Robbins has been an excellent addition as the slimy, rather unpleasant Brendan. Their scenes together are becoming increasingly unpalatable but I guess that is down to the skill of the actors and the script. I admit I was rather surprised by last night's turn of events as I didn't think our Mary would do the deed with a married man, but there you go. 

The tale of Mary and Brendan is typical Corrie in many ways. It has comedy, pathos and real sadness all bound together. I think we all know how this storyline is going to end. It's inevitable. I hope, as a viewer, that three things come out of it. First of all, I hope Brendan gets a suitable comeuppance as he's truly odious. Secondly, I hope Norris and her other friends rally round Mary and show their support. And finally, I hope Mary retains her dignity and Patti Clare gets material in the denouement of this story that is worthy of her talents. 

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John McE said...

Isn't the problem that it's very hard to write "real" stories (as opposed to comic ones) for a character like Mary? The same applies to Norris too - when was the last time he had a fling with anyone?

I must admit I'd never heard of Patty Clare until she joined the street, so it's hard to judge, but personally I am cringing every time she gets to do "real" acting.

Ted Robbins however has been a pleasant surprise. I was dreading his arrival, but by deliberately underplaying his part, he had fitted in quite nicely.

Tvor said...

I was surprised to discover that Mary is a peer in age to characters like Steve, Michelle and Carla. I agree with everything you said and yours is an excellent character study of Mary. No matter who the character, I always watch with dread when someone gets involved wtih a married person. They always seem to spout the same kinds of things that feed into the involvee's need to be loved no matter what. It happens in real life, too, just exactly this way. Mary may not be quite realistic, but her current situation certainly is. I'm sure her friends will be there for her when it all blows up

Anonymous said...

Hate this storyline, not worthy of the character or the actress. I find it very mean-spirited. I agree this sort of thing can happen--people can be desperate to find love--but the writers go way over the top making Brendan repulsive and self-serving. Why couldn't they have kept him at least slightly likeable, as he was in the beginning? But, for some reason, he has to be an utterly disgusting, odious, boring, long-winded elderly skinflint--demeaning and diminishing Mary in turn.

I know alot of people here didn't like creepy Mary stalking Norris in a Wuthering Heights toned parody, but at least that was genuinely clever, funny, and worthy of the actress. This storyline is just sordid, ugly, played out for some reason as a comedy.

Cobblestone said...

I don't see it as played as comedy. Both Patty Clare and Ted Robbins are character actors, adept at highlighting the foibles of the characters they play, which is otherwise integral to comedy, but I don't think the storyline is being played for laughs at all. I think it's sad, poignant and slightly disturbing.

Newfy Pearl said...

I am sad for the character of Mary. She deserves better. It seems the writers do not respect the charater or the personality thereof. Since when does Mary chastise Dev for daring to think of a woman before his children, 'who have been through so much", only to cast them off for the chance to spend time with a married man.
I hate this storyline and I really disrespect the writers producer or whomever is responsible for it.
I know it is just a story and Mary is not real...but if you wish me to suspend reality to view your stories.....then show a little respect to the viewers and your own creations.
The last time I was this disgusted is when Martin got involved with a 16 year old and Frankie Baldwin embarked on a relationship with a young man who considered her a mother since the age of 5.

Laura said...

I agree with much of the post, and while I have compassion for Mary and want her to come through this without undue suffering I also think she is enjoying a little too much sympathy right now. Her eyes have been wide open for a good long while, and she has had people warning her at every turn. She would be the first person to jump on anyone else for this sort of behaviour - remember how she treated Roy following Gary's attempted burglary?

Feeling desperately unloved herself, it makes it all the worse that she would willfully cause another person's heartbreak (Brendan's wife). Especially after seeing up close and personal the effects of Dev's attempted betrayal of Julie.

She chose the behaviour, so she has chosen the consequences. I hope for her sake it is mercifully short, but it deserves to happen.

Anonymous said...

I can see Mary up the stump and then Brendan dumping her...although she would make a wonderful mother IMO.

Humpty Dumpty said...

There's such a lot that can be done with Mary's character. It's occurred to me that she is not the well-travelled, much experienced in life if not love woman she wants people to believe. I wonder if she's ever strayed further than Paris. Her nastiness is down to seeing people of her own age and younger have friends and lovers while she has nothing and achieved nothing. If this is so, then there's a story to be told about a forty year old virgin ie: inexperienced in every aspect of living. On a street where all the residents appear to be copping off with a neighbour, I wonder if the writers would dare to give us a storyline about a middle aged female having her first encounter.

Humpty Dumpty said...

There's such a lot than can be done with Mary's character. It's occurred to me that she is not the well-travelled, much experienced in life if not love character she wants people to believe. I wonder if she's ever strayed further than Paris. Her nastiness is down to seeing people of her own age and younger have friends and lovers while she has nothing and done nothing. If this is so, then there's a story to be told about a forty year old virgin ie: inexperienced in every aspect of living. On a street where all the residents appear to be copping off with a neighbour, I wonder if the writers would dare to give us a storyline about a middle aged female having her first encounter.

coconno196 said...

Oh please no, not another "surprise" pregnancy! Though I do agree that Mary would be a good mother. Her relationship with Dev's children is very endearing. Maybe she should start going to singles' night with Erica?!

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, we no longer think it acceptable to ridicule the physically disabled, but Corrie writers still find it perfectly okay to mock people with mental or personality disorders and/or who are plain and overweight. So we get to see fat, plain nutjob Mary grabbing and clawing at the repellent Brendan in a frenzy of passion and then hauling him unceremoniously up the steps. It's no wonder people like Mary end up feeling so lonely and excluded in real life--too many people treat them in the same way as the Corrie writer who set out this repellent storyline--as good for nothing but a cheap laugh.

For comparison's sake, just imagine a similar plot line for Izzy where she was cast as a figure of fun, desperate to be laid by the first repulsive fifty year-old to come along because she was overlooked by everyone else because of her disability!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous at 0120. I do not like this story line. I do not see the Mary character getting involved in such a seedy situation. Mary is obviously intelligent and appears to be well-informed.I sometimes feel that there is a massive secret in there, such as having Asperger Syndrome or suchlike. Being considered by her peers when she was growing up as somehow "different" and also having a needy, dependent parent could explain why the character only seems comfortable in the company of older, "parent-like" characters. I was also hoping there would be a twist to this story line, like the Brendan character not being married after all but actually living with a bitter controlling old mother (Principal Skinner on the Simpson's??) He's lying to create a false sense of excitement for himself but also desperately hopes that Mary would never try to contact "the wife" as his little fantasy would soon vanish.

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