Mary Ann Cotton has the notoriety of England’s first female serial killer. She is known to have killed at least two of her husbands, several of her children and a number of others. To this day, the exact number of the people she killed is a mystery.
The television movie Dark Angel told the story of Mary Ann as she begins to slide down the ladder toward murder and depravity. Airing last night on PBS, it starred Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt as the main character. The audience meets Mary Ann when she is an ordinary wife and mother. Life has not been easy for her, but she has found a way to survive the hardships that have been thrown at her. But as she begins to lose her loved ones, something breaks in her, sending down a path that once tread upon, cannot be un-tread upon.
After watching Ms. Froggatt play Anna Bates for six seasons on Downton Abbey, it was refreshing to see her step into an entirely different role. Mary Ann is very much the underdog, both as a woman and a member of the lower class in Victorian era England. While on one hand, the audience can feel disgusted and horrified by her actions, in a certain light, we can almost sympathize with her. She lived in era when women, especially women from the lower classes were denied the right to an education and a career. Mary Ann did what she thought was right to survive, if a modern audience may not agree with her actions.
While my only criticism is that it went a little fast for me narrative wise (even for a 2 hour television movie), it was still enjoyable.
I recommend it.