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"Exploring Diversity and Representation in Hallmark Channel's Adaptation of "Sense & Sensibility"

Photos courtesy of Steffan Hill

The Loveuary with Jane Austen series on the Hallmark Channel concludes with the adaptation of "Sense & Sensibility." Directed by Roger Bobb and written by Tim Huddleston, the film is the first under the esteemed Mahogany brand. The story follows the Dashwood women who, after losing their family patriarch, are forced to leave their homes and move to modest cottages in Devonshire due to their changed financial circumstances.

Soon, practical eldest daughter Elinor (Deborah Ayorinde) falls for the equally pragmatic gentleman Edward Ferrars (Dan Jeannotte). Her passionate sister Marianne (Bethany Antonia) meanwhile spurns the advances of their steadfast new neighbor, Colonel Brandon (Akil Largie), for the much more exciting John Willoughby (Victor Hugo). When Elinor and Marianne's romantic prospects do not turn out as hoped, each sister learns to embrace the other's approach to matters of the heart. 

Thanks to historical consultant Vanessa Riley, for the most part, the latest adaption of "Sense and Sensibility" stays faithful to Jane Austen's original novel. While I haven't read the book since middle school, I remember the gist of the story. The melanin actresses in the film beautifully capture the two sisters' contrasting personalities - Elinor's practicality and restraint and Marianne's passion and impulsiveness. The lush cinematography and production design transport the audience to the elegant world of Regency England, adding to the film's charm and authenticity. "Project Runway" fans will appreciate the original costumes by Kara Saun, an alum of the show, and the stylish hair designs by Kim Kimble.

If I had one complaint about the latest adaptation, it would be that the creators did not have an all-black cast. Akil Largie and Victor Hugo bring a natural swag to the characters of John Willoughby and Colonel Brandon, but It would have been a nice spin to see someone like Malcolm Jamal Warner or an R&B singer portraying Edward Ferrars.

Nevertheless, the 2024 adaptation "Sense and Sensibility" is a well-crafted period drama that should appeal to fans of Jane Austen's work and perhaps gain some new ones for the author.

Final Grade: B

"Sense And Sensibility" Premieres Tonight at 8 PM ET / PT on Hallmark Channel.


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