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Thoughts I had watching “The Favourite” for the first time

The Favourite was a Hollywood success. The film was quite hot at The Oscars this year and was nominated for 10 different awards. Leading lady Olivia Coleman won Best Actress. The Favourite is one of the most relatable films I have watched in a while, and it’s a period-drama for crying out loud (or in my opinion, a dramedy – there’s some quality comic relief in this film, and thank God for that as there’s a lot of shit that goes on). The film is infused with toxic friendships, losing the plot, and social climbing. The Favourite is no different to high school politics and the fight for power and title ownership of ‘best friend’.

This article contains spoilers for The Favourite.

The three women (Queen Anne, her best friend Sarah, and new servant Abigail) share the title of the leading lady. The power shifts change, they have similar screen time, and they’re all equally mad. Queen Anne has lost her mind (and has every reason to), Sarah is a cold, jealous bitch, and Abigail is surprisingly the most cunning and manipulative. Sarah and Abigail share one similar goal: to be the favourite. They each play a different game and have different reasons as to why they’re fighting for the role of favourite. To put it into chick-flick terms, Queen Anne is the Queen Bee who sadly hasn’t showered in weeks and is an emotional wreck, Sarah is the jealous and high-strung Gretchen, and Abigail is the Cady who begins with a purpose for her actions, but quickly becomes the monster of the story when things get out of hand.

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Sarah and Queen Anne, portrayed by Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman (source: Fox Entertainment Group)

The character dynamics particularly stood out to me (besides the male cast who wore more make-up and had prettier hair than the women, no worries). The jealousy, fighting, manipulation, the secrets, and the poisoning – it was a lot to take in but this period drama was eerily reflective of typical 2019 for high-schoolers, workplace drama, and relationships (except for the poisoning, hopefully). But really, not much has changed.

The three women use sex as a tool to get what they want. Watching this play out on my TV was, well, confronting and definitely caught me off guard. That’s right, spoiler alert, the women are navigating a love triangle and engaging in sexual behaviour with one another for their own reasons and benefits. They sexually groom one another, and it’s just another source of manipulation. Anne and Sarah share a different and more genuine relationship (I guess) compared to Anne and Abigail, but there is still so much toxicity involved and it’s all a little overwhelming. I suppose it’s like the 18th-century version of a Gossip Girl episode (and definitely the one where Serena is drugged).

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Abigail, portrayed by Emma Stone (source: Fox Entertainment Group)

Queen Anne goes insane. She loses the plot. If you paid attention in history class, Queen Anne suffered 17 miscarriages and still-borns. That is a very fair reason to go mad and it would without a doubt throw anyone into a pool of depression. Anne uses rabbits as her ‘little ones’, which I assume means they represent each child that has left her. This makes me want to cry. The type of coping mechanism is a version of what many of us would use when we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Maybe not using rabbits exactly, but using something to come to terms with our loss and give us strength as well as a sense of comfort. This could be a tattoo, a Facebook post, a diary entry, or even hanging out with your pets rather than seeking human interaction to feel human again. I can’t so much relate to this, but I know people who have tried different coping methods. Anne’s method is both beautifully symbolic and absolutely heart-shattering.

As well as the tie of themes –  toxic frenemies, sex, manipulation and grief – the way the personalities are displayed throughout the film are uncanny to people you meet today, unfortunately. There are the wicked survivors (Abigail), the awfully nasty and jealous (Sarah), and those who are the most vulnerable and yet the most powerful (even in authority) at the same time. These people can be our friends, our family, our boss at work, or even us. Just remember, you don’t always have to be the favourite.  

What are your thoughts on the film? Tell us in the comments below!


Featured image: Sarah portrayed by Rachel Weisz (source: Fox Entertainment Group)

Multi-Award winning film, The Favourite, is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital now.