(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog August 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)
Guest Blog Post from Lesley Katz
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When we, as viewers, first met Drew and Summer, I agreed with many here who commented that it wasn't realistic for Drew to ask Billy - an ex he hadn't seen in years - to become guardian to a kid he'd only met once. Even Drew seemed to wobble slightly on meeting Todd, who, as Billy's new partner, came across as less than solid. For the most part, Drew stuck to his guns, never apparently questioning whether Summer would get along with Billy, or whether, after meeting Summer – in her 12-year old incarnation – Billy would have qualms about taking her in.
As for Summer, she too seemed to act under Drew's spell, never questioning his choice, only affirming that if her father had selected Billy, it must be for a good reason. Admittedly, the storyline had an off-kilter quality, skating on a thin premise. Who were these people anyway? Surely, Drew had other closer friends, friends better known to Summer.
With Drew's death, the story has taken on new life, allowing us to understand some of Drew's and Billy's backstory, or at least to fill it in. With the introduction of Drew's mother, Geraldine, we get a good sense of the homophobic home Drew grew up in, the challenges this posed to his coming out, and why he would not have wanted to place his daughter in the grandparents' care. More, however, emerged in last week's showdown between Billy and Geraldine,
Apparently, three days before he died, Drew reached the decision to change his will and make Billy Summer's legal guardian. Maybe he thought there would be time for the idea to grow on Billy, or, conversely, maybe he thought time was running short and he'd make the decision easier for Billy by simply ringing up his solicitor and changing the will. Throughout this storyline runs the idea that Drew knew things about Billy beyond what we - or even Billy - knows about himself. “Drew wanted me to be part of Summer's life for a reason.”
At some point in the past, we learn that Billy served as Drew's sounding board. “Oh, years ago, Drew told me about some of the things that you said and did to him.” Daniel Brocklebank puts a chilling pause between “said” and “did,” suggesting that Geraldine's sadism extended beyond emotional cruelty to physical acts. Even Geraldine looks momentarily caught off guard, before pulling herself back into steely, self-righteous mode. What did Geraldine do to Drew as a kid coming into his own sexuality? Was Drew approximately Summer's age at the time? The hints of abuse that run through Billy's first hand testimony - “Oh... Drew told me,” shift the balance of authority, both moral and legal, in the conversation. I love how the camera keeps returning to granddad Angus's expression as he witnesses the showdown. Did he not know about Geraldine's abuse of Drew? Did he know but let it pass? Is either worse than the other?
In this brief but brilliant scene, Billy and Todd's once reluctant adoption of Summer turns into a rescue op. Billy: “Summer deserves the life [Drew] wanted for her and I won't rest until she gets it.” He and Todd go from lower-case guardians to full-on Guardians of a glorious Corrie tradition of exposing bigotry as a fatal flaw. Billy: “Now that we've spent some time together – and this has nothing to do with the collar I wear – I don't hate you Geraldine, I pity you.” That “I pity you” is an effective put-down for Geraldine, whose naked twistedness stands exposed. While her husband silently watches it all go down, Geraldine's world view is doubly KO'd by Todd's no-nonsense “You need help,” and Summer's mic drop: “Gran, I know you care about me, but the way you talk, the way you think, it's not normal.”
Angus, of course, has the final reveal, pulling a copy of Drew's revised will from a convenient drawer and telling Summer that the final decision lies with her. I fully agree with a comment Tvor made about this storyline, noting that Drew's solicitor would have contacted Billy directly to inform him about the change, but – let's admit – neither was Shakespeare known for overly realistic storyline wrap-ups.
“Drew wanted me to be part of Summer's life for a reason.” We can assign all sorts of posthumous wisdom to Drew's choice, but in the end, it's down to the writers. It was all “for a reason,” but one which I, for one, did not see coming: to make these three over – Billy, Todd, and Summer - not as a randomly cobbled-together family unit, but as a threesome fused around a strong core of progressive like-mindedness. They may very well be the second coming of Roy and Hayley Cropper, just not in the shape we anticipated.
Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter