Temporarily embarrassed proletarians

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Carey
    November 20, 2013 @ 12:45 am

    "George being a werewolf isn’t really a metaphor for anything. It’s just a particularly annoying problem he has that causes him unique and idiosyncratic consequences. "

    Oh, I'd have to disagree about this, as George's interactions with other humans puts his metaphor firmly in the box of closeted homosexual, reinforced by the other werewolf he interacts with (and flirts with the idea of joining) is also male.

    I'm a rarity in that I prefer the replacement trinity to the one from the first three series: when it started, Being Human was a dark comedy exploring an addict, a man in the closet, and a victim of abuse. While some of these themes are still existent in the new trinity of Hal, Tom and Alex, the new paradigm is actually about class conflict, with Hal essentially portraying some one from an upper class background slumming it, Tom being irresolutely working class, and Alex being a lower middle class student. And their relationship explores the traditional antagonism between the classes.

    Class extends to the three central conflicts within the final series: the hotel (no better place for class conflict as it's one of the closest examples of old fashioned servitude); Captain Hatch (the name alone denotes class status, as officer class were always superior to the rank and file. And then, of course, is his proper title. But even he is in conflict, as his Fall was down to his own rebellion due to being unsatisfied about his position in the hierarchy). And finally there's Rook– the ultimate civil servant, facing up to dismissal: upper class in background, a middle class work place, yet at the end of the day revealed to be little more than a servant to those of a higher class than him, making him no different than Hal and Tom at the Hotel.

    Or maybe I'm not really that interested in explorations of addictions: although Being Human did do a nice job even there of showing addiction really isn't glamorous (but then doing what all tv/film explorations of addiction do and cast someone with film star looks…)

    I'd also add that Being Human is a rarity in British telefantasy in that it was chosen to go to full series because the audience actually demanded it. BBC Three commissioned a series of pilot episodes of potential series to appeal to a teenage/young adult audience. these consisted of of Being Human, West 10 LDN, Mrs In-Betweeny, The Things I Haven't Told You, Dis/Connected and Phoo Action (based on the Jamie Hewlett comic strip and co-written by Who alumni Jessica Stevenson). Whithouse was actually told that only Phoo Action would be commissioned for a series before the pilots were even broadcast. Once they were something unexpected happened, and a journalist for the Reading Chronicle started an online petition to lobby BBC Three give Being Human a full series, which was signed by over 3,000 people. Phoo Action was cancelled after it was decided that the scripts for the series were not good enough (although the critical drubbing it received couldn't have helped) and Being Human (which was far and wide the best received pilot from the critics) was commissioned as a replacement.


  2. Nick
    November 20, 2013 @ 3:13 am

    See Whithouse's comments here about the genesis of the show: http://www.ugo.com/tv/exclusive-writer-toby-whithouse-on-being-human It emerged from a This Life-esque 'young friends share a house' type drama and each of them had issues: George's anger management, Mitchell's sex addiction and Annie's agoraphobia, but didn't work until he decided to make George a werewolf. So, there's a definite metaphorical intent in the origin, but I'm not sure how much Whithouse kept it as a driving force in the series itself. In a way he almost flips it around and uses real-life events as metaphors for the monstrous elements – when they can't talk about all the bad things that are going on, Mitchell and George bond over the scheduling of The Real Hustle.

    S4 and 5 do shift to using class, though that does pick up on a theme that's run through the series that the vampires see themselves as superior to the other supernaturals.


  3. David Anderson
    November 20, 2013 @ 3:25 am

    The usual metaphorical interpretation of the werewolves in Being Human is people living with an STD. But I would rather go along with Phil in taking the monsters as their own narrative devices: ways of exploring the human condition by contrasting it with dark reflections of itself. Metaphor is not the only figure.


  4. Anton B
    November 20, 2013 @ 4:46 am

    Another thing Being Human has in common with Doctor Who is its ability to 'regenerate' its core cast and setting when necessary. Beginning with the recasting of Annie and ending, in its final season bearing as much resemblance to its first as Pertwee's era does to Hartnell's. Also, its version of the afterlife as a place of 'men with sticks and ropes' found behind magical doors is far more affecting than official spin-off Torchwood's 'nothing'.


  5. Froborr
    November 20, 2013 @ 7:07 am

    the “____punk” tradition kicked off by cyberpunk. That is to say, grim stories with tortured and fairly violent antiheroes wearing mirror shades at night.

    Thank you for summing up why I by and large can't stand the ___punk genres. Interesting that this description makes them one and the same with the Dark Age of comics, which actually works fairly well timing-wise.

    Unrelated to the post, I reviewed A Golden Thread on my site.


  6. Daibhid C
    November 20, 2013 @ 8:05 am

    "In a way he almost flips it around and uses real-life events as metaphors for the monstrous elements"

    Reminds me of Terry Pratchett explaining that the Johnny Maxwell trilogy isn't one of those YA novels where a kid is projecting fantasy onto reality so that slaying the dragon or whatever is a metaphor for dealing with his real world problems. "For Johnny it's all real, and half the time he's projecting reality onto fantasy".


  7. Daibhid C
    November 20, 2013 @ 8:08 am

    I find it interesting you call it a "flat-share sitcom". Because before I watched it I thought it really was a sitcom: less This Unlife and more Monsters Behaving Badly. So actually watching it took me by surprise.


  8. Theonlyspiral
    November 20, 2013 @ 10:33 am

    I really don't want this to come off as bitchy or disrespectful but I feel the need to ask: When are we back to Doctor Who? Season Two of Torchwood has been a slog to read through due to how unexceptional it all is. I can't imagine how brutal writing these has been considering that you had to throw up your hands in frustration at your post length standard.


  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 20, 2013 @ 11:30 am

    Well, this wasn't brutal at all, really. I mean, the question is really "how much could I have possibly thought up to put between Exit Wounds and Partners in Crime."


  10. sleepyscholar
    November 20, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    Recasting of Annie and Mitchell, surely?


  11. BerserkRL
    November 20, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

    So what is Hellblazer? Wizpunk?


  12. ferret
    November 20, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    I can't think of any *****punk term that John Constantine would voice anything but the greatest scathing for 🙂


  13. BerserkRL
    November 20, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    So, scathepunk?


  14. Whittso
    November 20, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

    Hello – first realtime comment from someone piling through the blog and loving it. I'm still back in late McGann, but catching up fast.

    Anyway – some random relevant trivia. Back in the 80s, I remember reading a Terrance Dicks book – Cry Vampire. I remember nothing about the plot, but the cover – a scruffy gothlike vampire with curly hair and a leather jacket just popped into my head. It's a dead ringer for Mitchell…


  15. Theonlyspiral
    November 21, 2013 @ 6:25 am

    I was very unclear. I didn't mean that Being Human was brutal, more the second season of Torchwood.


  16. Anton B
    November 21, 2013 @ 7:48 am



  17. Garth Simmons
    November 23, 2013 @ 12:01 am

    Amazing. I wish I could be scathepunk but wanting to be makes me everything scathepunk is against in the first place.


  18. David Anderson
    November 23, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

    Being Human while generally brilliant does have problems negotiating between the epic and the domestic. I think it just about overcomes the problems in most of its seasons, but one does feel that the houseshare monsters sitcom is getting invaded by the need to save the world. It manages largely to keep the world-saving bit on the same scale as the domestic bit which manages the transition.


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