Portrayal of Doctor Foster takes turn for the worse: Schneller

Title character is revealed to smell but the direction showrunner Mike Bartlett has steered series in just stinks.

Suranne Jones stars as the title character in Doctor Foster, a BBC production now on Netflix.


Suranne Jones stars as the title character in Doctor Foster, a BBC production now on Netflix.

The Show: Doctor Foster, Season 2, Episode 4 (Netflix)

The Moment: “You smell better than her”

Kate (Jodie Comer) knows that her husband Simon (Bertie Carvel) slept with his ex, Dr. Gemma Foster (Suranne Jones).

“Don’t make the same mistake twice,” Kate cautions him. “Work out the consequences of lying, and the consequences of telling the truth.”

He hesitates, then admits, “Yes.”

“Was it good?” she asks.

It was, Simon says, “but seconds into it I started thinking of you, because your body’s better. You smell better. You’re kinder. I get much more pleasure from you in every way. Starting sex with her was driven by lust. But finishing it was politeness.”

This BBC show’s first season had a strong through-line: Gemma discovers Simon is cheating on her, and ruins him. So I and two pals, who are in the target demographic, got together to watch Season 2.

As the first episodes grew increasingly ridiculous, we kept yelling “WHAT?” at the TV. Then, independently, we went home and binged to the end.

One theory: While writing this season, showrunner Mike Bartlett realized that his promising storyline — how far might newly divorced people go to destroy each other? — had soured into a “woman scorned” mess.

He knew he’d disappoint his audience. Then an idea hit him: If he disappointed them enough, they’d hate-watch it. So he made the show as loathsome as possible: “How ’bout if 24-year-old Kate is the picture of sane dignity, while 39-year-old Gemma is a desperate, wine-guzzling maniac whose character and actions make zero sense? And she smells!” He pictured betrayed viewers spilling their sauvignon blancs. He cackled with glee.

Or maybe his show just stinks.

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