BBC’s “The Paradise” on Big Business and Romance.

Set in 1875, England, BBC’s fictional series, “The Paradise,” is about the country’s first department store, the owner, Moray, and and his staff. The rapidly expanding store is taking business from the nearby established businesses, and as the stakes get higher so does the sexual tension in the store.

Denise and Moray  in The Paradise department store.
Denise and Moray in The Paradise department store.

Denise came to England to work in her uncle’s dressmaking shop, located down the street from The Ladies’ Paradise department store. When she arrived her uncle told her that he had no work for her. Much of his business had been taken by Moray’s ever-expanding store. In fact, most of the stores in the neighborhood were suffering because of The Paradise.

The Paradise shop girls live in small shared rooms on the premises and they barely make enough money to live on. Clara works in the same department as Denise. Clara has a secret daughter she pays to keep at an orphanage. Clara’s commission income decreases and she can no longer afford to keep her daughter.

An older gentleman employed at the Paradise kills the barber next door and throws the body into the river. Planning ahead for expansion, Moray had purchased the barber’s shop. The barber had insisted on being made a jr. partner so that he could wear a suit and ladies would look at him with respect. Feeling disrespected by The Paradise, the barber threatened to ruin Moray’s reputation with some dangerous “dirt.”

Despite their meager living conditions, and the economic downturn happening in their neighborhood, the girls hold onto hope for romance. Clara had a one-night-stand with Moray eight months before Denise’s arrival. Clara is still in love with Moray, and she knocks on his door at night trying to get him to sleep with her again. Pauline, Denise’s other roommate, suspects Denise may have fallen for Moray as well, but Denise denies it.
“I don’t want to marry Moray. I want to be him,” Denise says.

Later Denise realizes she actually has fallen In love with Moray. She quits the Paradise when Moray announces his engagement to his banker’s daughter. To generate business for her uncle, she unites the shop owners on the street into an outdoor, discount cooperative. The shop owners bicker and disband soon after teaming up. Denise returns to the Paradise.
“The Paradise” lasted two seasons, and was broadcast on PBS from 2013 to 2014. Both seasons are on Netflix.

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