So, okay, look. I’ve been trying to process this thought for a while now. I love Jackson-Cohen. I do. And I know that, given how there is absolutely ZERO Nell and Luke to be found in Bly Manor, they would have done just fine. But…the idea of having Yet Another “she doesn’t really love her fiancé, and then she meets a Nice White Guy who is a little rough around the edges who Teaches Her To Love” story is…not something I can wrap my head around for this narrative. It is at once wonderful that the queer relationship isn’t blown up to be like LOOK HOW GAY, DIDN’T WE DO A GOOD JOB??, and also incredibly meaningful that the heart of the story is a queer love story between these two women. You know? Like I’m at once really delighted that they normalized it so well and really aware that if it had been two Beautiful White Hets, it wouldn’t have been the same story. It would have felt like a story we’ve seen a thousand times—in every Christmas movie ever made for TV, even—and even though the performances would likely have been incredible, it would have…never resonated this way. It might have gotten the healthy v toxic dynamic across, but it wouldn’t have felt so important.
To make absolutely sure the queer romance was prioritized and normalized is why this feels so fresh and meaningful as part of a horror/gothic story. That they said “this one. Not the one you’re expected to be a part of (Edmund and Dani) or the one that’s all about attraction and ambition and abuse (Peter and Rebecca), but the one with two women on equal ground walking into this life-altering love together” is why we’re all so invested. To tell the story exactly the same way, but with a white male romantic lead, would not have felt anything like this. And I have to imagine the creative team knew that, and it was the desire to tell this story with all of these specifics parallels and themes that pointed them to have Jackson-Cohen play Peter. Because I really think to have the show we got, they had to have seen it wouldn’t have read remotely the same way with a male Jamie.