Mr. Andrews

Paul Andrews, from Between the Sheets, has always been a confusing character for me. in discussions about him, I defended him. not that he wasn’t guilty of the crime he committed but more that he had reasons for acting the way that he did; his actions were understandable to me. I wasn’t condoning his behavior necessarily, but I was acknowledging that it could be reality, not just drama for drama’s sake. what I couldn’t seem to do was say, straight up, that what Paul did was creepy and wrong. I always ended up delving into the whys and hows instead. it was those Puppy Dog Eyes! they are my Kryptonite.

of course you can come home with me!

of course you can come home with me!

I’ve avoided writing about Paul in my then & nowΒ look back at the RA characters, putting it off and then putting it off again. I wanted to be honest about my views, what they were compared to what they are now, how they’ve changed (if at all), but that would entail really sitting down and looking at my reactions. and I wasn’t sure what I would discover about myself if I did.

this scene turned me on more than the sex did

this scene turned me on more than the sex did

When I first encountered Paul, it was through one of the fan made compilations that only showed his part of the story. I knew it was giving me a one dimensional view of things by not showing other points of view but as far as Paul himself was concerned, I thought it was enough to get a solid understanding of him. I know where my mind was when I thought that and I could argue for that stance still but my feelings about that, overall, have changed. it would be like basing my opinion of someone’s character only on my own interactions with them, completely disregarding how I see them interact with others and how others react to them. if I just don’t want to get too highly involved with someone, to only take them at face value, that’s all well and good but I have to admit that to myself and own it. I wasn’t doing that with Paul.

I tried to convince myself that this fashion statement could be overlooked. it can't.

I tried to convince myself that this facial hair could be overlooked. it cannot.

Initially I thought that Paul did fool around with Tracy in a sexual manner, I just wasn’t sure to what extent. in the grand scheme of things “how much” didn’t matter, what matters is that he did and he shouldn’t have. not only because she was underage, a troubled youth who he was supposed to be helping and guiding as her Social Worker, but also because he was in a long term committed relationship with Alona. I knew all of that and I said as much but I wasn’t really standing behind it. I tried to put myself in Alona’s shoes but she, like me, didn’t really know what she was feeling or why, so I put myself in Paul’s shoes instead. if I couldn’t figure out how I was feeling about him, I could at least try to see things through his eyes. but he kept tripping me up! it was like watching one of those ‘dumbest criminals’ shows; if you’re going to be nefarious, don’t do it half-assed. add to this the fact thatΒ I was attracted to him (duh. he looks just like Richard) and I was all kinds of conflicted. so I let myself be pulled along by him, intuition be damned.

I knew. and he knew that I knew. and I knew that he knew that I knew. but none of that mattered.

I knew. and he knew that I knew. and I knew that he knew that I knew. but none of it mattered.

I felt that Paul was feeling neglected, that Alona was in denial about her control issues, and that giving in to Tracy’s advances not only made Paul feel desirable and needed but also in control. I still feel all of that, but in watching the whole program (more than once- denial is a stubborn thing) additional aspects became more clear. Tracy’s advances did make Paul feel desirable and in control, because she was broken and she needed him. just like Alona was broken when they first met and she needed him. they needed him for different reasons but they were both damsels in distress that weren’t in their own mind at the time. Alona eventually moved away from that needy persona into a similar one when she decided to have a child with Paul. I’m not sure how involved Paul was as a father but I suspect Alona needed the family man when their child was small. flash forward 6 or 7 years (I’m not sure how old their daughter was supposed to be) with a slightly older child and an extra pair of hands (the nanny) plus an angsty teenage boy who was testing his boundaries, and Alona had traded in need for control. something I understood all too well and did not want to face by seeing myself in Alona. I didn’t want to sympathize with Alona, I wanted to comfort Paul and keep him for myself.

the (deluded) heart wants what it wants

the (deluded) heart wants what it wants

once I admitted that I wanted to keep Paul for myself (it was hard, believe me), all Paul’s attempts at manipulation by turning the arguments back around on Alona, became strikingly apparent. I’m more than a little familiar with that conflict resolution tactic because it seemed to be my mother and father’s favorite way to deal with each other when I was growing up. Oh, hold the phone! Alona and Paul represent my parents…

 

OFF-AIR

 

So, in summary: I wanted Paul to be a better man than he was. I wanted Alona to see Paul as a man and not a boy. I tried to control the story and make it do what I wanted.

story of my life

 

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18 thoughts on “Mr. Andrews

  1. Servetus says:

    I’m so delighted that you’ve written this — maybe it will clear my block on that particular theme on my blog (I never advanced any further after that post; I was too tired out). As usual, it is very succinct and to the point.

    I had a parallel experience, that after I saw the whole series I felt much more sympathetic to Alona. I also think part of Armitage’s skill is that he does make the character seem so ambivalent that you want to sympathize with him even if your gut says early on that he isn’t innocent (we could ask if he overdoes it here), but in essence, that in turn bothered me, speaking from the feminist angle. Why should I want to feel sympathy for an adult who seemed unable to function as an adult if his wife wasn’t treating him exactly as he wanted / expected to be treated? He’s really very nefarious and it’s easy to sympathize with him even as he becomes very destructive in the end (confronting Tracey in front of the police station). As far as her seeing him as a man — he had a very specific way that he wanted to be seen, a specific kind of man (not that she didn’t, she had this issue as well, she couldn’t allow herself to be appreciated for the things that he did appreciate in her, it had to be about certain things).

    As far as making the story do what you want it to do — I think every interpreter wants to do that, and that it’s a fundamental motivating engine behind fan fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • he kept doing such stupid things *if* he wanted to get away with it. but maybe he liked yo-yo-ing Alona around, keeping the game going so that he could play the sympathy card and get angry to make her feel bad? I don’t know. it bothered me that I suspected this about him but still wanted him anyway. and I kind of liked the whining (Puppy Dog Eyes) not b/c I saw it as him being needy necessarily but a part of me liked being manipulated. wtf? I”m going to be thinking about this for awhile…

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      • Servetus says:

        I think men who regularly play that card know that some women enjoy that kind of manipulation (this is just something that I personally have no space for, probably due to my own relationship history — but you can see women in the story responding differently to it as well — his female friend the social worker has no patience for it and Alona may say she doesn’t want him to be a child but her behavior doesn’t really make that clear, whereas Tracey is obviously sympathetic to that strategy, so she feeds not only his desire for power).

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        • I wonder how, if at all, their dynamic differed *before* Tracy. were they getting along fine, sexing like rabbits as all of this simmered under the surface and then Paul started acting differently after Tracy, or did they play these kinds of games with each other all along but this time it all came to a head b/c of Paul’s job and the Police, etc.? Alona strung along that guy at the bar in the beginning like it wasn’t her first time doing so, and Paul seemed to know exactly how she would react when he threw his little tantrums.

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  2. In a way Paul giving into Tracy was like Proctor giving into Abigail in The Crucible. Even after Paul admitted that he’d done the deed, I found myself looking for excuses…the Armitage Effect is strong. Look how much we love his character Sir Guy even after he tortured and murdered innocent villagers. He didn’t even have the abuse issues that tortured poor Dolarhyde. Yet we dote on Guy, lust for him. It can’t all be because of a leather fetish. Mr. A himself said he thought Guy was worse than Dolarhyde.

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    • I think it was more of a sexual thing with Proctor, while with Paul it had very little to do with sex itself. with Guy, I’ve never really been caught in his tractor beam. I like certain themes of his story but the physical lust part of the character didn’t grab me; leather doesn’t do it for me, never has *ducks and runs for cover* I think the tone of Robin Hood distracted me from Guy being so “bad” as well. it’s a bit campy and set in some alternate reality of the past, so while I can appreciate the social demands and restrictions that the characters had to work within, Guy being a violent and murderous leech wasn’t able to sink in with me.

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      • Cill says:

        Very true about RH series being campy and alternate reality. Also he had Keith Allen’s ott sheriff to divert attention from the evil Guy’s nature, unlikeable RH performance so not a strong hero, and the whole unrequited love storyline.

        Liked by 1 person

        • yes, to all of this. the Sheriff was the despicable bad guy, Robin Hood wasn’t the clear cut “good” guy, and we were continually seeing the humanity in Gisborne as he struggled in his relationship with Marian. Guy was the heart and soul of that show, which made it impossible for me to see him as anything other than lost and conflicted.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Cill says:

            Of course, the other thing about Guy is that he is redeemed in the end and dies nobly. This demonstrates that there *was* good in him and it wasn’t just something we as fans of RA imagined must be there because we needed it to be.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Cill says:

          Btw I have to admit that the first thought that came to my mind was “how many villagers did Guy actually torture and kill?” A lot of what he did was at the behest of the sheriff.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Cill says:

    I always think of Paul Andrews as the character whose naked bottom is more likely to come to mind than his face πŸ˜€ (I make no apologies)
    This is a storyline that has everyone conflicted because Paul is wrong but the confusion between actor and role in our heads makes it impossible for us to face this.

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    • the bias that comes with being attracted to the actor himself, the “Armitage Effect” as snowyjo called it 😎

      and Word Association for me when I think of Paul: “socks”, always.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cill says:

        It’s not only an Armitage Affect , it works for all actors imo. Why else would anyone like Dexter or Hannibal or any of the other dozens of truly evil characters that have fanbases?

        ‘Word Association for me when I think of Paul: β€œsocks”, ‘
        He did have an active socks life πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

        Liked by 2 people

        • as someone with multiple acting crushes, I agree that the phenomenon isn’t limited to just Richard πŸ˜‰

          sock-sex related story: when I was around 13 yrs. old my parents had a bunch of friends visiting from out of town. all the adults went out to a local bar to celebrate while my friend and I stayed at the house for a sleepover. one of the adults came back to the house early with someone he had picked up from the bar and proceeded to have sexy times with her in my brother’s bed. my friend and I heard the whole thing *ick* when the rest of the crew came back to the house they saw the light on in my brother’s room and peeked in the window, seeing the couple passed out naked but the man still had his socks on, LOL! the next morning was very uncomfortable b/c he didn’t realize us girls were in the house that night and my parents were not pleased with him, but the other adults kept making jokes about his socks πŸ˜›

          Liked by 1 person

  4. i enjoyed thinking back on this… i think it is a sign of a good idea at least with a TV series if it makes people feel conflicted πŸ™‚ The series would have only worked if one felt ambivalent about Alana and him, so they both did well with their parts πŸ™‚
    Bit i felt myself looking for reasons and sometimes even excuses of why he had done what he had done and then you go: yuck!!!! i do sometimes feel uncomfortable with the way he plays around with my values, or rather i let him play around with them πŸ˜‰ it’s not always comfortable but i do think it is a bigger part his acting than his looks which do that to us πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • yes, I love how his acting and the parts that he chooses really make me think about things; things that I thought I knew how I felt about until I saw him portray it. it is uncomfortable but he makes me look at myself and the world around me in a way that has been very beneficial for me 😎

      Liked by 1 person

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