Tenure Spoilers for episode 1 follow.
Bloodlands star Charlene McKenna has opened up about her Holding character Evelyn’s affair with a teenage girl.
The four-part drama based on Graham Norton’s dark comic novel kicked off on ITV on Monday (March 14) with police sergeant PJ Collins (Game of Thrones’ Conleth Hill) uncovering uncomfortable secrets about his rural village while investigating a murder. .
One of the secrets lurking under the belly of the village is that 17-year-old Stephen Chen (Halo’s Sky Yang) has been having an illicit affair with Evelyn, a citizen in her mid-30s.
When digital spy talked to Charlene McKenna about this plot thread, she talked about how she came to empathize with Evelyn even though her actions are controversial.
“When I first read it, I was like, ‘Oh, God,'” he admitted. “Because I feel like that side of Evelyn is all that I was terrified of becoming. You know, it’s Blanche DuBois, albeit younger, but like the woman who wore armor when she was young, it being men that validated her existence? And get old and old, and keep chasing that?
“It’s different with Evelyn, because obviously I think when you have a trauma when you’re young, and Evelyn had two, which becomes more apparent, her motivations become more apparent, I think it’s kind of a psychological trick. And I think that Evelyn is very psychologically stunted at some point in her adolescence.
“So, on some level, Stephen is right for her. But obviously she’s a woman approaching 40. It’s just through your eyes: you’re like, ‘No, Evelyn. No, no, no. Please stop. this. That’s not the answer’.”
McKenna emphasized that viewers of Holding shouldn’t look for easy answers to explain Evelyn and Stephen’s frequent attempts at the back of an ambulance.
“It’s learned behavior. It’s validation. It’s a momentary release of pain, inner pain, like avoiding emptiness. It’s never going to work. We all know that. It’s like having an affair. This shit doesn’t work.” job. Drink a bottle of wine, it will not work. It’s temporary. And Stephen is temporary,” she noted.
“I felt sorry for her. I felt sorry for her. I thought, ‘Oh, she’s there. She hasn’t left town and she hasn’t gone out of her way at all. She’s entrenched in her shit. And now she’s having a affair with a teenager who is almost legal. Oh, God.’
“So yeah, what would we say here: Scarlet for her. Just mortified for her. But I get it. And Sky Yang, who played him, is 20 years old, so, you know… And I love him. He’s a sweetheart.” Absolutely. Complete love. Everybody felt very safe. Very, very safe. So it was absolutely good and fun to shoot. But, yeah, the reality of it, you know…”
He added: “We often see it backwards on screen, and we don’t blink. So it’s interesting: how often do you see an older man with a younger woman? No one blinks. But when you see an older woman with a younger man young man, it’s like: what is this vanity?
“So I like that they did that. It happens, you know? It’s just about understanding where it’s coming from.”
Tenure continues weekly on Mondays on ITV.
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story, organizations that may offer support include Samaritans at 116 123 (samaritans.org) or call 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). US readers are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov.
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