‘Hollyoaks’ Week In Review: Non-consenting Young Adults

Sienna can't help but lie to Warren.
Sienna can't help but lie to Warren.

In Her Shoes

Nick degrades Holly in front of a crowd.
Nick degrades Holly in front of a crowd.

Ironically the biggest and loudest detractor of Ellie Nightingale’s rape claim had to suffer the same fate this last week. In a tragic turn of events, rapist Nick Savage’s girlfriend Holly Cunningham was raped by the man she trusted and loved. This consent storyline has been running on the show for nearly a year, slowly adding more and more layers to a story that had started off so multifaceted already.

As if Nick already wasn’t unlikable enough, he took a sharp turn toward ultimate hatred after blowing his top on Holly. This was the man who cheated on Holly for weeks, had a pregnancy scare and then still openly continued a friendship with his mistress after Holly expressed her discomfort with it. Granted, Nick was actually being a good friend when he learned Tegan Lomax had begun abusing antidepressants to deal with Nick dumping her during her pregnancy scare but when Holly saw them, she immediately feared the worst. The couple fought and nearly fell apart but came together at Nick’s graduation party.

The show did really well with pushing the fact that Nick was known as a good guy, he had his buddies and family around him congratulating him for his hard work in university. He may have had a rape accusation on his record but people still loved him! Why? Because he was a guy. That double standard was shown when it came out that Holly drunkenly kissed friend Zach Loveday and everyone turned on her, especially when Nick exploded and called her a whore in front of her friends and family. Cindy Cunningham sprang into action like the mama bear she is, shutting down her husband’s nephew for his mistreatment of her child. Unfortunately Holly isn’t as tough as her mother is and found herself back with Nick even after all of that. She’s nowhere near as confident as her mother is, always finding herself in these situations where Cindy would have busted her way out of by now. It’s an interesting dynamic to see especially since Cindy’s risky situations that she had to fight her way out of almost always had Holly in the middle, even from a young age. She more learned to not be like her mother which in this instance isn’t a good thing.

Nick talked his way into Holly’s pants, basically telling his girlfriend that she owed him for giving him such a hard day. Holy gave no consent to the encounter but Nick went ahead with it anyway. Leave it to Hollyoaks, probably one of the more outlandish soaps on British television, to take a major social issue and portray it incredibly realistically. Immediately after the assault, Holly did everything she could to make excuses for her boyfriend. You find in reading similar real life stories that the significant other will do this, citing it impossible to be raped by your boyfriend (or girlfriend). But no means no, so does not feeling up to it or anything in that vein.

In a truly powerful moment, Holly confides in Ellie about the assault. She felt awful for not believing Ellie at first while Ellie felt worse because had Nick gone down for her rape, it never would have happened to Holly. Both women don’t realize at first that they are not to blame. No combination of flirting or short skirts should ever give a man an okay to have sex unless she said yes. Together, the two women make a formal report and Nick is arrested.
Other than the victims, I feel awful for Dirk Savage who is caught in between. Holly has lied about being sexually assaulted in the past and Nick is his nephew; he’s literally caught in the middle. Thankfully cements himself on Team Holly, even telling her that no matter if they’re not blood related, he identifies as her father and that he believes her. Nick tries to make several appeals to the family to save him and his budding medical career after threatening to release a sextape he’d actually forced Holly into filming for him. But in the end, Uncle Dirk tells his nephew to man up and own up to his awful mistakes while standing firm with his new family unit.

The bonds they all made may not necessarily be blood bonds but they’re just as strong, just as tight. US soaps tend to always forget these family ties that all the characters have and it really in irks me! Soap viewers come to soaps to see different family dynamics and interactions, and that was a huge part of this consent storyline. On top of all that, Ellie and Holly actually share a half-brother too. I think it’d be great to see these two young women come together in this difficult time to form a sort of sisterly bond. Little brother, the emotional Alfie Nightingale is going to need some help getting through it all too. It’ll be truly heartwarming to see them come together as a family.

No one could have guessed Nick would do this. Outwardly he really was a good guy but… just don’t let your nephew date your step-daughter. That’s just too close to home.

Pans of the Week

Papa Was a Rolling Stone

Goldie and Hunter are not pleased with Prince.
Goldie and Hunter are not pleased with Prince.

That Shane is a piece of work, isn’t he? After roping his son Prince McQueen into stealing valuable cameras from his school, when the boy collapsed due to injuries from his car accident, he literally abandoned him to get caught by the cops. Now Prince has to deal with recovering from brain surgery, reckless driving charges, theft charges and a school expulsion. Goldie McQueen has always known that Shane would never win any father of the year awards but she once loved him, now she’s a little wiser and a lot more fed up.

Swamped at The Dog, Ellie Nightingale asks Goldie to cover one shift at the bar for her. Surprisingly, the last minute hire proves to be a hit and the tips begin rolling in. Unfortunately so does the trash when Shane tries to blend into the party, taking free drinks whenever he can. Goldie at first does her best to stand up to Shane but pales every time but Ellie who’s overheard it all jumps in to help, giving Goldie a little confidence boost to finally kick the man out. The two of them form a really unexpectedly easy friendship pretty quickly. Ellie is struggling to rebuild her self-confidence after her rape while Goldie has always been searching for her own independence; they’re both at a similar crossroad but on different walks of life. It’s a really unique dynamic.

During a little heart to heart, Goldie fills Ellie in on Shane’s scamming ways and how he’s only ever cared about money, never family. To Goldie, family is more than her own life. She had the twins as a teenager and has been fighting hard to keep them dressed, fed and happy while Shane chases the next buck. In what Goldie considered the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for her, Ellie gives Goldie her wages as well as all the tips for the day to pay Shane to leave town. Anything to keep him away from their kids.

Shane takes the money of course but he also takes Prince along for the ride in a surprise twist. He’s worked his way into the elder twin’s ear, making him think that he has to live a shady life like his father, that since he’s not as smart or creative as Hunter McQueen then he must live his life as a criminal. What kind of dad does that? Theo Graham’s Hunter is probably one of my favorite characters on the show right now, he plays Hunter so honestly and cleanly that you kind of melt whenever he says something. Even when it’s the tough truth. Hunter doesn’t mince his words when it comes to his father playing the father card only when it’s convenient for him but does Prince listen? He’s facing jail time, the girl he loves hates him and his father constantly tells him that he’s worth nothing. Prince leaves thinking he’s left behind nothing.

Unfortunately he leaves behind his true family broken to pieces because of his departure. The twins have this real life fragile masculinity kind of bond going where they can’t tell each other they love each other, always skirting around those words and feelings. Hunter desperately wanted to tell Prince that before he left, hoping his twin brother would stay for him and the viewers can see it! They can also see the crushing disappointment when the elder leaves anyway. I’m so interested to see how Goldie and Hunter fare on their own because not only has Prince been the main new McQueen eating up screen time, but also because the characters mentioned always being a trio. They don’t know themselves as a mother-son duo. I hope this heads into a period of true discovery for these characters I’ve come to love.