Sunday, January 13, 2013

Walford Web Kindergarten: To the Man Behind the Woman's Name

MR Bex, this one's for you.

If you're going to hind behind a woman's handle (even if it's love handles), please stop trying to make her more sinned against when she's been sinning, herself.

Check out the thread winding its way around the Kindergarten now, with MR Bex assuming the position of Tanya-Apologist-in-Chief and turning the enhancement of that character's self-victimisation and the denial of her own hypocrisy into an art.

Kudos to the posters Jark, Nebraska, Rosalie and Jade for seeing sense and arguing it, but ... well he's a shipper, and shipper's gonna ship.

This is the ultimate truth about Max and Tanya, although I suspect MR Bex will just throw a hissy fit by covering his ears and eyes and monotonously singing, "lalalalalalalalalalala" to avoid the truth.

And here's the truth.

Newsflash: Max does not love Tanya. Theirs is the ultimate co-dependent relationship, and if EastEnders have inadvertantly done anything right in the past decade, it's accurately depict this sick co-dependency that exists between Max and Tanya.

Consider their history.

Max was the second son and one of a gaggle of younger kids born to Jim and Reenie Branning, a couple who married because he got her up the duff, and who stayed together, having sex and kids out of habit. Max, we were led to believe, of the three sons, was the runt of the male half of the litter. His father and brothers were virulent racists, but, surprisingly, Max wasn't - something which resulted in his father and his mates nailing him into a coffin for a night.

Tanya never properly had a back-story until her sixth year in the series. She was always presented as Max's soft and pretty second wife, but the more we got to know Tanya, the more we thought she was probably one of those immaculately turned-out women who look totally respectable, but who wear their dirty knickers for a week on end and forget to wash their feet.

She comes from a sink estate, the daughter of a drunk, the sister of a drunk and a drunk, herself. By the time she was eighteen, she was a party-down kappa slapper who'd been around the block sexually more times than she'd care to remember, and she also had a history of involvement with drugs and shoplifting.

Max, like his father before him, at eighteen, got a seventeen year-old girl up the duff and married her. Bradley was born, and Max got down to work selling insurance. When most blokes his age were out on the razz and chasing skirt, Max had a wife and child to support.

It wasn't long before he was playing away. Simply because he could. Max found, like most men and like a lot of women today, he can compartmentalise the sexual act from any sort of love which expresses itself in sex. He became a player. When things got too staid and predictable at home, Max went on the prowl. He'd connect with a woman and they'd start and affair. When things got a bit too close for comfort or when he got bored, Max could always call the thing to a halt and head home - because home held the comfortable and familiar. 

It was nice to play away, as long as the woman with whom he was playing didn't want more than he could give. When that happened or when he got bored, it was nice to be able to go home and appreciate Rachel more ... at least for a time. And then, of course, there was Bradley.

Bradley was the reason Max came home, because Bradley was the reason Max was with Rachel in the first place.

Then, however, he met Tanya.

Tanya was a teenaged hairdresser who was impressed with the fact that Max word a white shirt and drove a company car. I would imagine, based on what Tanya told Stacey Slater during the course of a wine-sodden afternoon, that Tanya was just as rough-hewn as Kirsty when Max first met her. She told Kirsty that she'd stay out all night and go to work the next day, dripping wet in cheap cologne and crunching breath mints to disguise the smell of stale alcohol that permeated her.

Max was her ticket to ride to middle-class respectability, and when she found out he had a wife and child, she doubled down on her efforts to break up the family unit.

That's a nice, innocent girl for you.

She got up the duff, and Max - raised by Jim to never shirk your responsibilities when you get a lady in the family way - faced a dilemma. He had to abandon his first wife and child, in order to make a "respectable" woman out of Tanya, who thought nothing of the fact that Max already had a wife and child. In fact, Tanya made Max promise always to put their children first. Of course, it helped that she inadvertantly had the help of Mrs Rachel Branning, who determined that it would be a cold day in hell when Max would again see Bradley.

Max didn't even try to fight, because that's something the Brannings don't do. They do a Billy Mitchell and roll over, leave the area, slope off, get well away from the bad memory because if something's out of sight, it's out of mind.

Don't believe me? Check out Jack and his plethora of children he never sees. Or Derek and the fourteen years he went before attempting to see his kids. 

It also helped Max's situation that his parents didn't approve of him having a wife and kid and getting a floozy up the duff, so that meant he could move well away from them too.

As far as this marriage goes, Tanya soon found out that when a mistress becomes a wife, there's automatically a situation vacant. Max was soon cheating again and for the same reasons. His life developed into a pattern. He'd cheat, Tanya would find out or he'd end the affair and come home,each time laden with an increasingly more expensive present for Tanya.

As for Tanya, she barked about his infidelities, but she never bit. Marriage to Max meant she could pretend to be middle class, affect all the requisite airs and graces, the cream of which came about when Max bought Tanya her own business and set her up as proprietor. A proper businesswoman was she then. When her skanky drink-and-drug-addled sister showed up on her doorstep, Tanya paid her to move on.

Tanya's and Max's relationship is based on good sex and insecurity. Not love. When Tanya discovered Max had been unfaithful with Stacey Slater, she tried to kill him  - drugging him and burying him alive. She then sent him away and went for the next several months, lying to her children about his whereabouts and even bringing Uncle Jack into the home as a babydaddy, sleeping with him because she thought she was entitled to do so.

Max and Tanya were not divorced during this entire time period; and despite MR Bex's curious interpretation of 21st Century morality, a person simply isn't single until both signatures are on the divorce application and the decree absolute has been issued. After a year of publically taunting and humiliating Max and even of tacitly sanctioning Lauren's attempted murder of him, Tanya and Max reunite.

One year later, when Max is on the ropes bankrupt, Tanya walks out. Money and material possessions are very important to Tanya, kinda like ...

But without the class.

Within three months of leaving Max, Tanya's cosied up to a wealthy young builder. Our Tan has never achieved anything off her own ability, only off her association with men. There's a name for women like that.

Through Greg,she gains another home in the Square, and he buys the Salon back for her. Even marries her, and she repays him by cheating on him with Max.

Oh, by the way, this time, Max and Tanya are divorced.

But they reunite eventually, for the fifty-second time, months later.

Simply put, Tanya is with Max because he's good in bed. In fact, I imagine Tanya hasn't found anyone else, in her opinion, as good in bed as Max,which is - ultimately - why she's put up with him. Max is with Tanya because she's the mother of his children, and because after every foray into the sexual unknown, he can return home to stability and comfort. Because he knows she'll take him back.

Max eventually reunited with Tanya only after he learned she had cervical cancer and was refusing treatment. He had left Walford, sent away by the combined efforts of Tanya's lies and Lauren's belligerance. It was only when Jack was alerted by Carol that Tanya was drunk and was buying drinks for the underaged Lauren in the Vic that Jack contact Max and urge him to return to Walford and sort his family out.

As someone recalled on Walford Web, he didn't receive a warm reception and was on his way out of town when Lauren had to confess to him that Tanya had cancer and was trying to kill herself. 

It was common concern and decency and a duty to his children that stopped Max from leaving. It was pity, but it wasn't love.

Because as we all know, during the time he'd been gone, the divorced, the decree absoluted, the newly-single Max Branning had met another woman and married her. 

Now, in the blink of an eye, Max abandons her without any reason, just phoning her to say everything is over. Of course, he's feeling his duty is to get Tanya through this crisis, for her sake and the children's sake; but it also presents Max with a more familiar scenario - the comfort and stability of a family life he knows.

That does not mean what he's done is fair to Kirsty or that she should just shrug her shoulders and accept abandonment, without any reason. And, I'm sorry, anyone who's pushing that meme - as MR Bex and countless others are doing - is either abundantly stupid or has never been in a relationship and been on the dumping end of the finale. If someone led MR Bex to believe they had a serious relationship, committed to it and then dumped him from afar, you'd bet someone like MR Bex would move hell and high water to get up close and personal with the dumper in order to get some answers, and no one would blame him. He'd be entitled to do so.

But anyone expecting it was au fait for Max to throw a wodge of money and divorce papers through Kirsty's letterbox and expect her to play ball, just because of Max's so-called romantic history with Tanya is living in Cloud Koo-KooLand.

In actual fact, when Max married Kirsty, he was moving on. Actually, he was moving forward when he settled down with Vanessa. It was only when Tanya found him, fine and cosy and living with Vanessa that she lobbied to move back to the Square with Greg, and then began a campaign of snide remarks and insults directed at Vanessa. And it was only when Tanya was called into the equation again, that Max was unable to fulfill his life and promise to Kirsty.

That's what co-dependency is. A person who's an alcoholic has a dependency; if his or her partner or famiily enable the alcoholic to drink because the they have a peaceful life or whatever, that's co-dependency. Every time Max or Tanya try to pull away from each other, they're drawn back - him by the thought of never seeing his children again and her by the thought that someone else is on the receiving end of Max's cock.

Both are jealous, needy people,and both need to end the cycle of dependency they've forged.

What Max and Tanya have ... it isn't love, it's sick.

And, by the way, MR Bex, anyone who drugs and tries to bury another person alive simply isn't a nice person, so it's wrong saying Tanya's done nothing wrong. She did wrong when she broke up Max's marriage at eighteen. She did wrong again when she slept with Max, whilst married to Greg.

As for Kirsty knowing nothing about Max, I think she proved to Tanya last week that she knew as much about him as Tanya did. Possibly more.

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