Why The Pursuit of Love barely has romance. The latest Amazon Prime series, which premiered on the BBC a few months ago, is based on the 1945 novel by Nancy Mitford. Adapted by Emily Mortimer, who wrote and directed the series, The Pursuit of Love engages with the several love interests of Linda Radlett (Lily James), while also managing to avoid leaning into the romance of it altogether.
Set in the years between world wars, The Pursuit of Love follows Linda, a free-spirited romantic and her cousin Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham), a practical woman who doesn’t entertain love in the same way as Linda despite yearning for something more than her too-grounded life. Though they’re wildly different, representing two sides of the spectrum (and no in-between), the series touches upon the loving, if co-dependent, relationship between Fanny and Linda, and their opposing perspectives. And while they both find love — Fanny with Alfred, whom she marries, and Linda with Fabrice, a French Duke she meets following two divorces — The Pursuit of Love is more intent on exploring the downside to romanticizing of relationships while remaining on the margins of showcasing the romances themselves.
Suffice it to say that The Pursuit of Love isn’t Bridgerton or Pride and Prejudice, which critiqued society and love while also engaging with both. The Amazon series doesn’t do that because it takes a rather cynical stance on love despite its title. Linda, in particular, is in search of that ideal romance, someone she can ultimately call the love of her life. While she doesn’t find it in her first two husbands, Linda does accidentally happen upon it much later on with Fabrice. However, even though she and Fabrice are clearly smitten with each other, The Pursuit of Love holds back from delving too far into idyllic romantic scenes between them lest the message of its premise of there ultimately being no such thing as great loves, something that is reiterated in the final scene, gets lost.
To that end, the period drama spends little time on evolving Linda and Fanny’s relationships in the traditional romantic sense. There are no declarations of love here or intimate scenes, physical or otherwise. All told, The Pursuit of Love doesn’t focus on the romance aspect because it’s ultimately not that kind of story. Here, deep romantic love is idealized and, as Linda chases it, the further away it gets because it will never be the way she imagines it to be. If it comes along, it’s fleeting. What’s more, the series is primarily focused on developing the relationship between Linda and Fanny, which is the core of the story.
To have focused too heavily on the romance would have taken away from their relationship and its many layers. Of course, the couples — Fanny and Fabrice, Fanny and Alfred — are shown together, be they engaging in flirty banter or having sex, but there’s a difference between that and establishing a complete love story. To do so would have undercut the overall themes set up by The Pursuit of Love, as well as the relationships the women have with each other.
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