The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix tells a horror story, a ghost story, a sad story, but most importantly, a love story. A love story that we needed.
The limited series was released on Netflix on October 9th, and has since been the subject of buzz from the media. Bly Manor is the second installment of Netflix’s horror show, The Haunting of Hill House. Victoria Pedretti, who played a main character in Hill House, takes center stage in Bly Manor as an au pair to two children, Miles and Flora, after they lose their parents and their previous au pair. Pedretti’s character, Dani, works together with Hannah, the housekeeper, Jamie, the gardener, and Owen, the cook, to raise the two children in the eerie mansion.
The “lady of the lake” haunts the manor, killing those that reside in it by choking and drowning them in order to avenge her own tragic death. Dani is also initially haunted by her ex-fiance, who died immediately after she broke off her engagement with him. Jamie, the gardener, helps her through these difficult times, and eventually their friendship develops into something more.
Dani and Jamie’s love story goes how most love stories go--friends with sexual tension to eventual lovers. Despite the show taking place during 1987, there isn’t a focus on the legality of their relationship, which is refreshing for a lesbian love story. Most woman-loving-woman love stories or any LGBTQ+ love stories place an immense amount of focus on the hardships the characters face in coming out, existing as an LGBTQ+ person, and discrimination rather than the actual love story itself. The Haunting of Bly Manor creates an authentic love story, one where we as the viewers aren’t bogged down by the issues surrounding LGBTQ+ love. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge these hardships, as they are very real and often a coming-of-age experience for LGBTQ+ people. However, every single LGBTQ+ story does not need to remind us of hardship. The Haunting of Bly Manor leaves all the hardship to the horror, and allows Jamie and Dani’s love story to merely exist, as any straight relationship would.
In the final episode, it is revealed that an older Jamie is actually the narrator of the show. She tells an older Flora, who has no memory of her time at Bly Manor as a child, the “ghost story” that she experienced. Flora, on the night before her wedding, responds with, “I liked your story,” she says. “But I think you set it up wrong. You said it was a ghost story. It isn’t. It’s a love story.”
Bly Manor allows us to experience a woman-loving-woman love story, which so many of us simply need. We simply need a lesbian love that does not focus only on the plights of being LGBTQ+. Jamie and Dani’s relationship perfectly fits within the ghost story, and may even overtake that story with their own love.