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Posts Tagged ‘May-December romance’

May-December romances have no doubt existed throughout human history. Having just finished the enjoyable BBC One series Me and Mrs. Jones  (despite being forced to watch it on YouTube with some very distracting Spanish subtitles), I began to wonder what I would do if I found myself in Mrs. Jones’ shoes.

The cast of the BBC One sitcom Me and Mrs. Jones

The cast of the BBC One sitcom Me and Mrs. Jones

Before we embark on the predicament put forward in the title, let’s define what we mean by “cougar.” According to About.com, a cougar is  “a woman 40 years of age or older who exclusively pursues very young men …typically those almost young enough to be their sons.”

Here’s a prime example of a real life cougar/cub relationship:

Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson (46) and her her husband actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson (23)

Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson (46) and her husband actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson (23)

However, I prefer to look at examples of the way British television has approached the older woman/younger man scenario because, as we all know, TV imitates life.

Francesca Annis and Robson Green in the ITV miniseries Reckless

Francesca Annis and Robson Green in the ITV miniseries Reckless

In Reckless (1997), young physician Owen Springer (Green) changes jobs to be near his ailing father in Manchester only to fall for a much older woman who also happens to be his boss’ wife. A lot of wooing on Owen’s part has to take place before Anna (Annis) is convinced to take a chance on this unorthodox relationship. Is Anna a cougar if she doesn’t initiate the relationship?  I’m not aware of the official cougar guidelines, but the chemistry between the pair would seem to contradict her claims of disinterest.

As a couple, River and the Doctor have the appearance of a cougar situation though Whovians know it’s the Doctor who’s actually robbed the cradle.  Nevertheless, there’s no denying River does have that assertive cougar vibe about her…

 

The sitcom Pramface presents us with a less an age difference than a stage of life difference. Jamie (Sean Verey) and Laura (Scarlett Alice Johnson) meet at a drunken blowout at the end of school exams.  Jamie looses his virginity and Laura gets pregnant in the process.  When the two meet afterwards so that Laura can break the news, she is appalled to find that the father of her child is only sixteen years old while she’s eighteen and ready to go off to university.

 

Unfortunately no clear pattern has emerged so let’s go back to the dilemma at hand. Gemma Jones (Sarah Alexander), frazzled mother of a grown son and set of school age twins, hasn’t had the time or energy for any romance in her life since she and her mildly insensitive husband Jason (Neil Morrissey) broke up.  Then suddenly out of nowhere, Gemma is faced with a choice of two eligible men:

 

Tom (Nathaniel Parker) is a well-off single father who the other moms at school consider to be “the catch of the playground.” He has a precocious daughter whom he spoils and fancies himself a renaissance man – wine connoisseur, gourmet cook, martial artist. Good-natured, if not a bit neurotic, and really quite sweet once you get past the goofiness, Tom is trying to move on after his cruel wife left him for another man.

Gemma’s other option is a trickier proposition:

 

Gemma’s son Alfie (Jonathan Bailey) returns from his gap year trip abroad bringing a new mate Billy(Robert Sheehan) home with him – apparently Billy saved Alfie’s life at some point of the journey.  Whenever in his presence, Gemma becomes as giddy as a teenage girl.  And after overhearing Billy talk her daughter out of her stage fright, she is moved to kiss him in the school hallway out of appreciation and, let’s face it, lust.  A mature young man, Billy gently urges Gemma to talk about her feelings and their obvious attraction for one another without much success.

In the course of six episodes, Gemma tries her level best to feel some attraction for Tom while simultaneously attempting to deter Billy’s appealing advances. It all leads up to the final episode of the series wherein Gemma must make her decision, a mini break in a luxury yurt with Tom or a picnic under the stars with Billy.

You may well be asking yourself at this point, for the love of God, who does she choose?  For those of you who may be worried about spoilers there’s really no need to worry since I can’t spoil this much more than the BBC already did. As Gemma sits at the intersection of her life, deciding whether to turn towards a safe, socially acceptable relationship or an exciting adventure that just might turn her family against her, the screen goes to black.  It’s a cliffhanger ending which turns out to be a bloody forever cliffhanger because Me and Mrs. Jones wasn’t commissioned for a second season!

Since the BBC deprived us of a resolution to Gemma’s romantic entanglements, I feel I’m left with no option than to make the choice for her. And this type of decision requires a good old assessment of pros and cons.

There’s not really much to discuss when it comes to Tom.  He and Gemma are at similar stages in their lives – divorced, children, financial responsibilities, etc. In their situation, it’s merely a question of compatibility.  Gemma is a disorganized slob while Tom is a zen neat freak.  Is there any attraction there?  With Tom still in love with his ex and Gemma just not feeling it, I think it would take a lot of work to generate more than an affectionate friendship.

Me and Mrs. Jones' Tom (Nathaniel Parker)

Me and Mrs. Jones’ Tom (Nathaniel Parker)

Billy, on the other hand, is more accepting of Gemma’s imperfections and even loves her for them. Roadblocks for Billy include that fact that he is Alfie’s friend and that could be a very sore point between mother and son  if he and Gemma start dating. Although if you ask me Alfie is a bit of a self-absorbed twat so losing his respect for a while probably wouldn’t be a horrible loss.

 

Alfie (Jonathan Bailey) upset at witnessing the snog between his mother and his friend.

Alfie (Jonathan Bailey) upset at witnessing the snog between his mother and his friend.

Billy is just beginning his career as a chef so he must live simply as young people generally do. How long will it take before the charm of spending the night with Billy at his bedsit rubs off?  And finally, though Billy has a wonderful rapport with Gemma’s daughters, is he prepared to act as a step-father at such a young age?

So what would you do? If I was Gemma, a character in a TV show, I’d unleash my inner cougar and take my chances with Billy, a truly lovely guy inside and out.

Billy (Robert Sheehan) waiting for Gemma's decision

Billy (Robert Sheehan) waiting for Gemma’s decision

 

However, in the real world it would take a very special man indeed to take on the complications that come with a ready-made family and a woman who’s liable to feel insecure about her looks when compared to women her boyfriend’s age. Remember Ashton and Demi?

Idealistically I’d pass on both suitors and wait for a guy my own age like Tom who makes me feel like Billy does.  I’m sure it would be worth the wait. Realistically, there probably is no such man (besides my husband of course;)

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