Trouble awaits Doctor Foster in new season as her cheating husband returns

by Fiona Rae / 08 October, 2017
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Doctor Foster.

Love, betrayal, revenge … we’re not sure if there’s also murder in the second season of Doctor Foster (TVNZ 1, Monday, 8.30pm), but you never know.

Season one was melodramatic enough, but it appears that writer Mike Bartlett is tightening the screw, having revealed that the series is based on the Greek tragedy Medea. You know, the one where she kills her husband’s new wife and her own children.

“It’s sexier, I think, perhaps darker and more emotionally complicated,” says Bartlett on the BBC’s website. After the thrills and spills of the first season, in which Suranne Jones’s Gemma Foster discovered her husband, Simon (Bertie Carvel), was cheating, it wasn’t clear whether there would be another.

However, after the success of the first season (10 million Brits tuned into the finale), Bartlett’s mind turned to a post-divorce scenario. Season two begins two years after Simon and his girlfriend Kate (Jodie Comer) left for London. Gemma is now head of the medical practice and she and son Tom (Tom Taylor) are living the quiet life in the same house.

Enter Smuggy McSmugface Simon, who blows up Gemma’s world by returning to the seething cesspit of lies and deception otherwise known as Parminster. He has bought a huge, modern house in an exclusive part of town where he and his perfect wife and child can live a perfect life.

Needless to say, Gemma does not react well. In fact, she behaves rather badly, but both Bartlett and Jones will not countenance a “crazy” label.

“I get upset when people describe Gemma as mad,” Bartlett told the Express. “I don’t think she is; she’s just very angry. If it was a man behaving like that, you wouldn’t say he was mad. You’d say he was fighting back.”

Jones concurs: “People use the word ‘mental’ when women get upset about these things. No. Her heart’s broken, and her world has been turned upside down.”

There’s also the tiny detail that Simon is evil. It’s clear some sort of game is afoot when he arrives back in town and starts, in the most passive-aggressive sort of way, painting Gemma as the one who can’t move on.

But think of the children: is Tom the one in real danger? “We take Gemma to a place I don’t think she would ever imagine she would get to,” is all Bartlett will say.

This article was first published in the October 7, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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