What does it look like if the two female characters who regularly get soused on cocaine wine, manhunt servants and value life only for the wealth and celebrity it offers them become the New Faces of Feminism? It’s the question Another Period poses at the end of its second season finale, and one which undoubtedly positions the third season to be a biting send-up about the fight for women’s rights (both then and now) and what it means to be a feminist.
Throughout Another Period’s second season, the Bellacourt sisters—Lillian (Natasha Leggero) and Beatrice (Riki Lindhome)—enacted scheme after scheme to achieve the celebrity they so desperately wanted after getting a taste of it at the end of last season. Their outrageous, ill-bred antics earned them front-page coverage and a demeaning moniker: The Pig Sisters. It didn’t matter that they’d degraded themselves in every conceivable way: the press—and, as a result, the public—knew who they were, and any kind of celebrity meant far more to them than anonymity.
But they were foiled with every attempt to regain that level of fame. At the beginning of “Lillian Dies,” Lillian’s pending marriage to media baron Laverne Fusselforth V (Orson Bean) has fallen through after he keeled over at the altar and died. Meanwhile Beatrice has discovered religion after her brother-lover Frederick (Jason Ritter) banished her to the abbey. Despite her own sinful past, she takes Father Black Donahue’s (Jemaine Clement) counsel to heart: “The best thing you can do for those you love is forcefully push your beliefs upon them.”
It is at this crossroads that the women achieve the fame they’ve long sought, even if it’s not the kind of fame they would have ever anticipated for themselves.
With Lillian on a bender after learning pubs exist, Beatrice arrives to save her from the devil. She busts every bottle of booze to keep Lillian from drinking, and in doing so unwittingly keeps the men from drinking as well. The headlines next day read “Local Women Cause Man-Size Chaos,” and Newport’s female citizens are enamored. After all, the temperance movement and the suffrage movement became intertwined at the end of the 19th century. But, for the show, here are actual women who had an actual impact on stopping actual men’s bad behavior.
Harriet Tubman (Bebe Drake), aka the woman who tried to help the sisters find their “brand” in the first episode this season, returns to crown them the New Faces of Feminism. “The very fate of all women could very well be in their hands,” she says. Of course, Lillian and Beatrice don’t yet know about their new status, as no one has been able to identity the mysterious bride and nun who caused such an important ruckus. That fun, Another Period suggests, will come with the third season.
If Lillian and Beatrice are indeed found out and become the poster women for feminism, how exactly will that work? Based on the show’s time period, the sisters will purportedly participate—even lead—the first wave of feminism, which was key in achieving basic human rights for women like voting. But it’s hard to see how a character who spouted the line, “Everything’s perfect: Women don’t have to vote, we drink as much as we want, and children can work as much as anyone else,” at the beginning of the season will really want to champion anything that shifts what society already expects of her, especially when she and her sister have a rather comfy lifestyle thanks to servants, double tiaras, “cream time” and chowder baths.
Written from the vantage of post-feminism, that ever-contested distancing from what first and second wave feminism fought so hard to achieve, Another Period stands to do big things by positioning the Bellacourt sisters as the forefront of the original fight. For now, we wait until season three.
Amanda Wicks is a freelance journalist specializing in comedy and music. Follow her on Twitter @aawicks.