Grantchester Character Review: Leonard Finch

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series GrantchesterRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Grantchester to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

No one wants to be different. We all want to fit in and be accepted. In our time, being different has become the new normal. But it was not so long ago that being different was if not illegal, considered to be immoral. On  Grantchester, Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) is gay. In his world, Britain in the 1950’s, he is essentially illegal. He faces two daunting choices, neither of which are ideal. He can either come out and potentially go to jail. Or, he can stay in the closet and pretend to be someone who he is not.

On the surface, Leonard comes off as the enthusiastic man of the cloth who clings ferociously to the ideals of his profession. But underneath all of that is a man who is struggling to accept who he is. On top of accepting who he is, Leonard is unsure about his attraction to Daniel Marlowe (Oliver Dimsdale).

In an effort to appear “normal”, Leonard asks Hilary Franklin (Emily Bevan) to marry him. She accepts his proposal, but the engagement does not last very long. This results in a botched suicide attempt. After surviving the suicide attempt and found out by Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones), he realized that even in the constricting 1950’s, it was better to be himself than hide who he is.

*I would normally include a clip, but there are none to be found.

To sum it up: In the lens of 2020, no one (well hopefully no one) would blink an eye when encountering a gay character. But, in the lens of the 1950’s, the view of this character is different. He lives in a world that at best denies who he is and at worst, criminalizes who he is. But, in spite of what seems to be insurmountable challenges, Leonard is able to find a way to be himself and fall in love.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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