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Series / Mr Selfridge

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Mr Selfridge is a TV series, airing on ITV (UK) and PBS (US) since 2013, about the American Harry Selfridge (Jeremy Piven), who moves to London in 1909 with the intention of building a magnificent new department store. Drama ensues as he tries to make his store successful in spite of conservative British customs, his opportunist financier Lady Mae (Katherine Kelly), his own marital troubles with his wife Rose (Frances O'Connor), and, in season 2, the impending World War One.

Meanwhile, shopgirl Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus) has her own personal troubles to deal with, including her rebellious brother George (Calum Callaghan), her rivalry with catty shopgirl Kitty (Amy Beth Hayes), and her burgeoning romance with Henri LeClair (Grégory Fitoussi); and Josie Mardle (Amanda Abbington) tries to stay strong in the face of her secret love affair with Mr Grove (Tom Goodman-Hill).


This series has examples of the following:

  • Alpha Bitch: Kitty certainly behaves like one, especially towards Agnes in early season 1.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Lady Loxley has shades in this in season 1, obviously having ulterior motives whenever she helps Harry out. However, she pales in comparison to her husband, who, as revealed in season 2, abuses her physically and emotionally, believes in Marital Rape License and has highly shady business deals going on.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Lord and Lady Loxley: in season 2, Lord Loxley moves in with her, and it's shown that she really had reason to like things the way they were in season 1.
    Lady Mae: When Lord Loxley is in London, I'm in the country, and when Lord Loxley is in the country, I'm in London. That's the secret of a happy marriage.
  • Blue Blood: Rosalie's fiancé Serge and his mother Princess Marie are Russian royalty.
    • Many Selfridge's shoppers.
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  • Camp Straight: Mr. Lyons, the new Head of Design in Season 4, who falls for Meryl Grove.
  • Career Versus Man: A remarkably sympathetic case. Agnes quits her job at Selfridges without a second of hesitation in order to return to his home in France with her shell-shocked husband, telling Harry Selfridge that "He's more important to me than anything". Henri is aghast, telling her that she can't sacrifice her career for him, but she tells him point blank that "it doesn't mean anything without you." Given just how bad his PTSD was, nobody thinks she made the wrong choice, though Harry admits without shame that he'll miss her terribly.
  • Cassandra Truth: Whatever Mr Crabb says about the finances.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: So did Franco die in the war, or?
    • Despite promising to continue causing trouble for Harry, Ellen Love disappears after the end of Season 1 and never turns up again.
    • Youngest Selfridge daughter Bea disappears after season 2. It's never mentioned why she doesn't appear at family events, weddings, funerals, etc.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 2 in comparison to Season 1, mostly because of WWI: the first season ran on plots of shopgirls fighting over promotions, getting celebrities to visit Selfridge's, and love affairs. The second one runs on plots of young men enlisting, characters trying to find ways to help the war effort, espionage, and love affairs.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: So, so much. Woman employees are fired if they decide to marry (and note that Harry is supposed to be a fairly progressive employer)note ; Harry's wife Rose shrugs on his sleeping with other women but woe on Rose if she even kisses another man; the Empire Exhibition treats the British Empire as a fantastic thing with no consideration for the negative sides of colonization, and so on...
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Rose reveals she is terminally ill because of a problem with her lungs, likely cancer or consumption.
  • Domestic Abuse: Lord Loxley to Lady Mae.
  • Double Standard: Women and men are treated very differently in this era.
  • Driven to Suicide: Miss Bunting, due to financial difficulties.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Florian unceremoniously dies off-screen in WWI. Presumably he had to die because all other main characters (Henri, George, Groves and Victor) survive their tours of duty.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Oh, Henri. Is there a woman you haven't charmed?
  • Funny Background Event: An unintentional one. In the third episode, the drunken Reg Towler gets on a trolley just as it lurches to a start. The trolley's sudden movement is so violent that one of the extras, a woman in a white dress, is slammed against the side of her seat. She rubs her arm and mutters to herself until the scene changes.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Everyone assumes Miss Mardle's Belgian border is going to be a woman because of the name Florian. Turns out, he is very much male.
  • Gold Digger: Lady Mae; it's implied she married Lord Loxley purely for the money and title.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: One of the most-praised aspects of the programme.
  • G-Rated Drug: Ellen Love's implied cocaine use: and by implied we mean that she does it on-screen, and it is fairly obvious that it's supposed to be cocaine although the drug isn't named. Other characters treat it as a vice little worse than smoking. Truth in Television, again, as cocaine was legal at the time, and it was a fairly acceptable vice as long as the user remained a Functional Addict.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Ernest Shackleford, Arthur Conan Doyle, Anna Pavlova, all of whom made Real Life appearances at Selfridges. In Season Two, producer Mack Sennett and actress Mabel Normand appear (although not in Real Life).
  • Home by Christmas: What almost everyone keeps saying will happen when the male Selfridges employees go off to fight in World War I.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Lord Loxley. His attempts to make money are major plot points in season 2.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Victor releases Agnes from their engagement because he knows she loves Henri more than she could ever love him.
    • Josie uses almost these exact words to explain why she broke up with Florian, her much younger love interest. She suspects he will one day want children, which she cannot provide.
  • Marital Rape License: As far as Loxley's concerned, Mae has no right to say no.
  • May–December Romance: The past-childbearing-age Josie Mardle with her much younger Belgian boarder, Florian Dupont. She thinks it could never work because of this; he doesn't give a damn and wants her anyway.
  • Miss Kitty: Not Kitty. Delphine Dey, author and owner of a high class drinking establishment, in Season Two. She becomes friends with Rose Selfridge.
  • My Beloved Smother: Princess Marie to Serge
  • No Name Given: Mr Thackeray, Mr Crabb and Lord Loxley. As of Series 3, Mr Crabb's first name is Arthur .
  • Old-Timey Ankle Taboo: Gordon's Porn Stash consists of photos of women sitting on beds wearing knee-length dresses. Very racy by the standards of 1910.
  • Porn Stash: Gordon acquires a small one in 2.03. (By today's standards, it wouldn't be considered porn at all: the pictures are of women wearing knee-length dresses, sitting on beds, but the characters treat them as "racy". Truth in Television, as in the 1910s a respectable woman would never wear clothing that revealed even her ankles in public - a knee-length skirt was practically nudity.)
  • Put on a Bus: Despite being a major player in Season 1, Miss Ravillious never appears again. Mr. Crabb casually mentions that she took a job elsewhere.
    • Henri and Agnes move to France together in the middle of Season 3 and are never seen again.
  • Shed the Family Name: A variation: Lady Loxley insists on being addressed as Lady Maenote . Probably because her husband Lord Loxley is a total jerk and domestic abuser.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Oh, God, poor Henri.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Florian gives one to Miss Mardle as she's trying to list all the reasons a relationship between them would never work. She promptly goes up like a bundle of tinder in his arms before forcing herself to stop.
  • Stepford Smiler: Harry is the most cheerful, bombastic, larger-than-life person these characters will ever meet. But when he's by himself he shows strong signs of being severely depressed, even alluding to suicidal urges in the first episode.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Josie Mardle. Tries to be cool and controlled, is actually secretly adorkable and sweet.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Harry. Rose. Lady Mae. Mr Grove. Just about everyone.

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