Top 10 Goofs in Persuasion (2022)

Top 10 Goofs in Persuasion (2022)

As my history with this site attests, I simply can’t resist posting about goofs – real or perceived – spotted in Austen adaptations. After watching the new offering of Persuasion on Netfilx, my mind was abuzz with how this post would come together. There are a couple of historically inaccurate choices made by the production team that we’ll choose to look the other way on, such as the color-blind casting, which I personally think Jane herself would approve of. I’m also not going into the costumes or hairstyle goofs.

It is understood that the production team was attempting to bring a fresh, modern perspective to this classic tale while still keeping it in the sumptuous Regency time period. The same was done, quite successfully, with the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Other adaptations, such as Clueless and Bridget Jones’s Diary have been modernized by using a contemporary setting. A large number of the goofs listed below seemed to happen when the use of anachronisms just didn’t quite work. If it pulled me out of the story enough to question, it went on the list of potential goofs for this post.

So here is the list of Persuasion 2022 goofs, in no particular order.

10.) I am an empath. Mary Musgrove legitimately had me in stitches throughout, but when she declared herself an empath with a straight face, I was dumbfounded. Not only is she devoid of the connection associated with the term, but this pop-culture word was first employed in a 1968 episode of Star Trek titled appropriately, The Empath.”  Perhaps Mary’s use of the word can be attributed to the same “Doctor” who told Mary she would do well by “embodying gratitude.” A time-traveling doctor?

9.) Five, ten, thirteen? One couldn’t miss the absurdity of the entirely anachronistic references to rating physical appearance on a scale of one to ten, but Mrs. Clay went there, and then some. Intended as flattery to Sir Walter and Elizabeth, her first claim, that a five in London was a ten in Bath was a poorly executed recycling of a line from the comedy series, The Office where a character asserts “She’d probably be a six in New York, but she’s like a seven here in Scranton.” But this production didn’t stop with the recycled material, not yet. Mrs. Clay goes on to proclaim that Sir Walter and Elizabeth will be thirteens in Bath. Exceeding the top of the 1-10 scale was noted first in the 1979 film 10, where Bo Derek’s character was declared an eleven and echoed in the 1984 rock spoof film Spinal Tap.

8.) Cappucino wasn’t a thing yet. This one may have slipped by most viewers since cappuccinos are Italian and therefore old-world, right? The Italian part is true, but the drink itself can’t be dated further back than 1930. What exactly was Anne referring to when she speaks to Mary in Italian saying “One cappuccino, please!”

7.) Lady Russell’s European tours.  During the Regency period, unlike single “maidens”, widows were given a degree of leniency regarding their personal lives and intimate relationships as long as their conduct was discreet. Lady Russell’s hints to Anne that she satisfied her need for such company by taking European tours would have been deemed a scandalous breach of the position of trust she held. On the shelf or not, Anne was still a maiden and would have been sheltered from such talk by her godmother, not introduced to it.

Lady Russell contemplating her next European Tour.

6.) What’s underneath?  The decidedly comical scene where Anne seeks to relieve herself only to discover herself within hearing distance of Wentworth and Louisa Musgrove exposed (without exposing) a costuming goof. After Anne hikes up her skirts, she proceeds to wiggle her arms downward as one would when lowering panties aka knickers. Ladies did not wear such undergarments at the time.

Something underneath those skirts is complicating things.

5.) Wentworth’s continually stubbly face. I concede that on some men, a bit of stubble can be quite attractive, adding a rough edge of masculinity. This was not the place to invoke that look. For one thing, Wentworth’s sideburns were too perfectly formed to not be groomed daily, so what’s up with the rest of his face? At first I thought it was intended to show his virility by means of a robust 5 o’clock shadow, but then I noted the stubble first thing in the morning. Then I thought that perhaps it was meant as a sailor thing, but alas, fellow captains Harville and Benwick were clean-shaven. I must chalk it up to bad form. No wonder Sir Walter disapproves of him!

Wentworth is scruffy, even in the morning.

4.) Looking a little too good. While there were cosmetics during this period, they were not generally used by virtuous, unmarried women, especially not those who lacked vanity. Anne’s makeup was subtle but still quite noticeable, even more so as they painted the “bloom” back on her. Some may consider this nitpicking, but Dakota Johnson is naturally pretty enough that she didn’t need so much makeup.

Subtle, but obvious makeup.

3.) Where is Henrietta? This was a muddled mess. After Louisa’s fall in Lyme, it’s clearly stated by Mrs. Harville that whoever stays to nurse her will have to sleep on the floor. Henrietta says she can’t bear to leave until Louisa wakes up, but Charles blows past that and asks Captain Benwick to escort Mary and Henrietta home. Mary insists that she is staying. The expectation–in the novel as well as the way the scene plays out–is that Wentworth will escort Henrietta and Anne back to Uppercross. Yet there are only two people in that carriage returning from Lyme: Anne and Frederick. A single woman and a single man who is not her relation or old family friend. This is a scandalous breach of propriety. We must assume Henrietta was inexplicably left behind.

Anne watches Wentworth walk toward the Uppercross Big House, leaving her alone in the carriage.

2.) Wentworth saved a beached whale. This deed is mentioned twice in the film, with the notation that onlookers wept. I’m sure this was to assure modern watchers that Wentworth was an animal lover. The reality was that a beached whale, discovered while it was still living so that no decomposition had begun, was considered a godsend, and it would have been gratefully harvested by the locals. The onlookers would have certainly wept if they were deprived of their bounty. The “Save the Whales” movement by the Greenpeace organization did not begin until 1975.

1.) That is not Anne Elliot. I hardly know where to begin. The Anne Elliot in this production of Persuasion was a stranger stuck into a familiar plot. Where Austen’s Anne was reserved, this Anne was snarky and confident. Where Austen’s Anne didn’t hold a grudge against Lady Russell, this Anne was sulky and resentful. Where Austen’s Anne was the epitome of dignified, ladylike behavior in spite of all her ill-treatment, this Anne hit the bottle and made repeated awkward faux pas which at times humiliated others. There were just too many traits turned upside down for her to be recognizable, which was sad. This Anne had no arc unless you count her flirting with Mr. Elliot. She was nearly the same from start to finish.

Anne impulsively calls out to Wentworth through the window.

Anne informs the dinner party that Charles preferred her to Mary.

So there’s my list.

While there’s a bit of overlap with Amanda Kai’s post from July 22, I cut most of our duplicate observations since I had an extensive list of goofs to pick from. Are there any of the goofs listed that you feel aren’t really goofs? Are there goofs I missed that you would like to add to the list? We do love your comments!

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cindie snyder
cindie snyder
July 25, 2022 8:28 PM

Haven’t seen it but will have to look for your goofs when I do!

July 25, 2022 8:09 PM

Enjoyed reading your list and thought same things when watching. The part that really surprised me is how ooc Anne was. It’s like the screenwriter didn’t think Anne Eliot was an interesting heroine and decided to change her character. I hope they don’t decide to redo Mansfield Park as I imagine them turning Fanny into Mary Crawford.

Caryl Kane
Caryl Kane
July 25, 2022 5:28 PM

Thank you for sharing!

Alice McVeigh
July 25, 2022 1:42 PM

PS Sorry, I meant to say, in my second paragraph:

Anyone who HAS seen the 2022 film shouldn’t be allowed to rate the book.

I answered my phone in the middle, is why I messed up!!!

Alice McVeigh
July 25, 2022 1:37 PM

I love this.

My view: Anyone who HASN’T read Austen’s Persuasion shouldn’t be allowed to rate the film.

My view: Anyone who HASN’T seen the 2022 film shouldn’t be allowed to rate the book.

Since I know the book by heart and haven’t seen the film, I have to shut up, according to my own rules. (But still, I love this!!!!)


J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
July 25, 2022 10:59 AM

I was horrified when I saw the trailer and determined I would not waste my time watching it. I did the same with Emma and Santiton. Nope. It was too aggravating and disconcerting to watch the movies. Yes, the costumes and scenery were wonderful; however, an Anne Elliot hitting the bottle and other faux pas, no… just no. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I always enjoy your posts. And, it bridged nicely with Amanda’s post. Blessings.

Oh, I nearly forgot her character breaking the fourth wall. I remembered this from the 1999 movie adaptation of Mansfield Park. We saw it again in the 2007 Persuasion. Sally Hawkins [Anne Elliot] made eye contact with the camera as the audience heard her musings while writing in her journal. It was like the audience was in on the secret.

July 25, 2022 7:34 AM

I suppose I noticed them but to be honest they didn’t bother me over much. I really quite enjoyed this version (apart from the octopus scene!) but even that was better than the cringeworthy kiss in the 2007 version.
I will watch it again (but certainly not as frequently as my favourites- P&P 1995 & 2005!)

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