Sunday, 6 August 2017

Drew's Choice

Guest Blog Post from Lesley Katz
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When we, as viewers, first met Drew and Summer, I agreed with many here who commented that it wasn't realistic for Drew to ask Billy - an ex he hadn't seen in years - to become guardian to a kid he'd only met once. Even Drew seemed to wobble slightly on meeting Todd, who, as Billy's new partner, came across as less than solid. For the most part, Drew stuck to his guns, never apparently questioning whether Summer would get along with Billy, or whether, after meeting Summer – in her 12-year old incarnation – Billy would have qualms about taking her in.

As for Summer, she too seemed to act under Drew's spell, never questioning his choice, only affirming that if her father had selected Billy, it must be for a good reason. Admittedly, the storyline had an off-kilter quality, skating on a thin premise. Who were these people anyway? Surely, Drew had other closer friends, friends better known to Summer.

With Drew's death, the story has taken on new life, allowing us to understand some of Drew's and Billy's backstory, or at least to fill it in. With the introduction of Drew's mother, Geraldine, we get a good sense of the homophobic home Drew grew up in, the challenges this posed to his coming out, and why he would not have wanted to place his daughter in the grandparents' care. More, however, emerged in last week's showdown between Billy and Geraldine,

Apparently, three days before he died, Drew reached the decision to change his will and make Billy Summer's legal guardian. Maybe he thought there would be time for the idea to grow on Billy, or, conversely, maybe he thought time was running short and he'd make the decision easier for Billy by simply ringing up his solicitor and changing the will. Throughout this storyline runs the idea that Drew knew things about Billy beyond what we - or even Billy - knows about himself. “Drew wanted me to be part of Summer's life for a reason.”

At some point in the past, we learn that Billy served as Drew's sounding board. “Oh, years ago, Drew told me about some of the things that you said and did to him.” Daniel Brocklebank puts a chilling pause between “said” and “did,” suggesting that Geraldine's sadism extended beyond emotional cruelty to physical acts. Even Geraldine looks momentarily caught off guard, before pulling herself back into steely, self-righteous mode. What did Geraldine do to Drew as a kid coming into his own sexuality? Was Drew approximately Summer's age at the time? The hints of abuse that run through Billy's first hand testimony - “Oh... Drew told me,” shift the balance of authority, both moral and legal, in the conversation. I love how the camera keeps returning to granddad Angus's expression as he witnesses the showdown. Did he not know about Geraldine's abuse of Drew? Did he know but let it pass? Is either worse than the other?

In this brief but brilliant scene, Billy and Todd's once reluctant adoption of Summer turns into a rescue op. Billy: “Summer deserves the life [Drew] wanted for her and I won't rest until she gets it.” He and Todd go from lower-case guardians to full-on Guardians of a glorious Corrie tradition of exposing bigotry as a fatal flaw. Billy: “Now that we've spent some time together – and this has nothing to do with the collar I wear – I don't hate you Geraldine, I pity you.” That “I pity you” is an effective put-down for Geraldine, whose naked twistedness stands exposed. While her husband silently watches it all go down, Geraldine's world view is doubly KO'd by Todd's no-nonsense “You need help,” and Summer's mic drop: “Gran, I know you care about me, but the way you talk, the way you think, it's not normal.”

Angus, of course, has the final reveal, pulling a copy of Drew's revised will from a convenient drawer and telling Summer that the final decision lies with her. I fully agree with a comment Tvor made about this storyline, noting that Drew's solicitor would have contacted Billy directly to inform him about the change, but – let's admit – neither was Shakespeare known for overly realistic storyline wrap-ups.

“Drew wanted me to be part of Summer's life for a reason.” We can assign all sorts of posthumous wisdom to Drew's choice, but in the end, it's down to the writers.  It was all “for a reason,” but one which I, for one, did not see coming: to make these three over – Billy, Todd, and Summer - not as a randomly cobbled-together family unit, but as a threesome fused around a strong core of progressive like-mindedness. They may very well be the second coming of Roy and Hayley Cropper, just not in the shape we anticipated.

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Maricha said...

Of course this was done so the writers could make over these characters. That was a great goal.The trouble is that it was done in the ham-fisted way the show now gets everything done.
Heaven forbid Drew had gotten there a few months earlier or even been a parishioner we just hadn't seen until recently. That way, at least Summer wouldn't be a stranger to Billy. The focus would have been on convincing Todd (the better actor in this storyline,imo).
Nothing explained why Drew's only option was Billy and Todd. Were all his other friends and relatives too irresponsible or did they refuse because Summer is more of a handful than she appears? The fact is that whatever Billy knows Geraldine did to Drew, she doesn't have a criminal record that can be used against her and Drew had let her, not Billy, be part of his daughter's life up until he was at death's door. She's a hateful bigot but if that made people lose custody half the planet's children would get taken away. Children can't be given to strangers in wills as was done here.

Taking so many short cuts in storytelling is odd for a show that literally has all the time in the world to get its characters where it wants them to be. Let's hope the writers don't get bored and decide to skip over the rest of Summer's childhood too. I'd like to see this storyline progress at a normal pace.

Cobblestone said...

Lovely, insightful piece, Lesley.

Maricha: I was wondering where all Drew's gay friends were at his funeral. It was unrealistic that only Billy and Todd turned up. Gay men, especially in Drew's case, having to survive a homophobic home environment, almost always have a strong support network within the gay community. Even more so if bringing up a child alone.

Anonymous said...

I also hope we see more of Summer's childhood and adjusting to her new life on the Street and her not shuffled out of sight as many of the other children are[Jake Windass,Jack Webster,Max and Lily Platt]once their' sensational storylines' have ended.
It seems the only children we do see are those related to the Barlows,Simon and Amy.
If and when Phelan's crimes of murder and fraud are revealed,since Todd was complicit in the flat fraud and knew Phelan left Michael to die,I wonder if that important detail will be remembered as new 'father'Todd is arrested for being an accomplice to fraud and possibly murder or will that be forgotten by the writers to facilitate the storyline with Summer?

Maricha said...

Yes, it was also an oversight to not have any of his gay friends, other friends and the families he knew as Summer's father attend the funeral. I've known pretty terrible people who had less sparsely attended ceremonies.

Tvor said...

It wasn't really an oversight if Drew's parents forbade any of Drew's gay friends from attending as she did Todd and Billy which she very well might have done. I do wonder how much Drew actually allowed Summer to know her grandparents if they had disowned him.

Humpty Dumpty said...

There were some annoying plot holes as mentioned above and Summer is not at all believable. No matter how tough she might be, consider that she has just lost her dad, been dumped on and then removed from her grandparents. Then she moves into the home of strangers and she's seems fine with it. A few sobs behind a closed door but soon perks up after building a robot. Her acceptance of the situation was too quick. I expect Drew's mother won't take it lying down and could involve Social Services.

Maricha said...

It isn't likely that Drew only had gay friends,though. He seems to be from the Manchester area so what about old school friends and all the people we meet in a lifetime regardless of their sexual orientation? It was odd how few people were there.
Summer certainly seemed to know her grandmother even before her father died, not as if she'd just met her like Billy and Todd.
Geraldine was also at the hospital when Drew died. If you're estranged from your parents, why would you list them as next of kin so they'd be contacted and know when you died or let them have any sort of relationship with your child?

dulyquoted said...

Thank you Cobblestone:) -Leslie

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