gemified | April 3rd, 2012 - 12:00 am

Back to the Beginning

By Gemma Jacob

I have gotten used to seeing the ‘Anyone But Me’ titles come up on my screen. Written by Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward. Directed by Tina Cesa Ward. It is hard to watch it knowing that this would be the last episode. It is made even harder because unlike the ending of so many other shows, I know how much I have changed because of this show. And a big part of me isn’t ready for it to be over. Even having seen the show being filmed and knowing pretty much how it ends, I am still not quite prepared. However, knowing how much work has gone into the series finale, and because I simply have to have my ABM, I press play once more and prepare to find out how it ends.

I normally leave my comments about Rachael Hip-Flores and Nicole Pacent’s performances until the end of my reviews, but this time I simply cannot write another word without saying how much I will miss them as Vivian and Aster. Their portrayals of their respective characters are one of this show’s greatest selling points. The performances are honest and real and heartbreaking and at times frustratingly good. The tender moments between them in this episode, from the first shot until the final frame are exquisite. If they ever needed a show reel all they had to do was play this episode and they would have any part they wanted. They are pure magic on screen together and my heart is thankful that I will no longer send it on the rollercoaster that is VivSter, and yet it aches that I will not get to see such beautiful moments except in repeat viewings of ABM.

We have seen a change in all of the characters, but I think in Aunt Jodie most of all. She has gone from a single woman living alone, to the mother figure of a teenager who has struggled with moving to a new town, making new friends, and of course an often tumultuous relationship with her girlfriend. It has not always been easy for Aunt Jodie, but we have seen how she has learnt to be a parent and friend to Vivian, and a partner to Gabe. If any of ABM’s characters were to get a spin-off (VivSter excluded), I would actually want it to be Aunt Jodie – with Barbara Pitts playing her of course. There is so much about her that we did not get to know, why she made the decision to take Gabe and Vivian in, what her life is outside of the house, and we never got to see her make pancakes.

Alright, I have already commented on Rachael Hip-Flores’ performance, and I know that I am unrelenting in my praise of her, and yes I may even be the slightest bit biased. However, every single word of adulation is absolutely deserved – and this episode proves that. I will not miss having my heart ripped out every time I see her cry, those tears I can certainly live without. I will absolutely miss seeing the wonderful performances that these scripts and the direction given illicit from her. She is exceptional, in every possible way. She is going to need a sturdy mantelpiece in the years to come for the awards she is sure to collect.

There are no words for the final scenes in Battery Park. I cannot fault it at all; I do not even have enough words to say how wonderful it is. Every single moment of those scenes felt as though every part of the universe was working in harmony to bring us this scene. Being there when it was filmed I know that whoever controls the airspace above Battery Park certainly wasn’t working with the ABM team, I cannot begin to imagine the work it took to edit the noise out. I am forever grateful for Tina Cesa Ward’s post-production abilities because we are able to hear every word that she and Susan Miller wrote. And those performances. Heartbreaking. What we have delivered to us is pure perfection.

Everyone has said that they did not want this show to end, but we have largely accepted it (well not me, but for the most part). The finale has been met with the warmth and support from fans that has characterised ABM’s too short run. There have been many posts about how sad it is that the show is over and there has been justified praise about how it has ended. Of course, there have also been people who did not like the ending. The storyline that brought Vivian’s mother into the forefront that we will never get to see played out being foremost amongst most criticisms I have heard of the show. However, I do not think it was a story that was ever supposed to be told. We leave Vivian and Aster where we found them four years ago, uncertain of what the future will hold but knowing that whatever it is, together they can face it.

It would not have mattered if Tina and Susan had spun off on a weird tangent in which alien beings landed on earth threatening to enslave the human race, Vivian and Aster could face anything. That was the point. We were never going to get the ending we wanted, because the fans never wanted an ending. What we wanted was to know that these characters we have grown to love over the years were going to be okay. Gabe and Jodie will carry on raising Vivian in the loving home they created, and even if nothing developed between them they would become the very best of friends. Elisabeth is going to go on to Broadway stardom, or at least be the star of the school play. Jonathan is over the superstar that is Sophie and will probably end up on a Varsity football team. Sophie will continue to find her own happiness, and on her own terms. I actually imagine her going on to save the world in some way. And Vivian and Aster, they will get their happily ever after.

As much as we all have our own idea about how we would have played it out, what they have given us in equal measure is a finale that is beautifully written, shot, and acted; the trifecta of brilliance that ABM has never failed to deliver. In the end, even without some of us realising it, Susan and Tina gave us exactly what we needed, an ending which fitted our beloved characters and this story perfectly.

6 Responses to “”

  1. Tina Cesa Ward says:

    xoxo to you

  2. Susan Miller says:

    Gemma, You will always be a part of us. And your last words are just what I hoped you would feel. ” In the end, even without some of us realising it, Susan and Tina gave us exactly what we needed, an ending which fitted our beloved characters and this story perfectly.”

  3. Rebecca says:

    I really like this perspective on the finale. I found it a bit of a strange ending at the time, but I can see where it was going now, and it does kind of make sense.

    • gemified says:

      Thanks for commenting Rebecca. I think I may have analysed this one a bit more than most lol. I had complete and utter faith in Susan and Tina that they would do the right thing by these characters (i.e. keep VivSter together lol). If they could have given us more seasons I know they would have, but like I wrote in the post, it was the ending which fitted. I am always going to be sad that this show ended, but never at how it went out.

  4. Viviani Zaffani says:

    I finished reading the text, is that now I can cry?
    I wish the series was transformed into a book, where he was told the story of the characters from before the Vivian moved from NY City until such time that Vivian finds her mother, and each character’s story was told in detail. I wonder launch propaganda disseminated on the Internet, the Caribe was a scene that was in the library in which gravadda Aster Vivian asks if she remembers what book she was reading when he first saw, and then pulling a Vivian Livo the shelf and this book is the book ABM and they start laughing and then they kiss (not cost to dream). Big kiss, Viv, Brazil.

  5. Casandra says:

    Thank You for the great review. I love ABM.

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