Ryan and Mark’s mother, unlike her husband, Simon, Jinny is a loving and caring parent; wishing only the best for her lost and lonely little boys in their dark and depressing situation. Though she often laments the way in which she found herself in this sorry state, she finds resolve in her sons, who in return love her unconditionally.
If there’s a moral to be found in the series, Jinny is very much the embodiment of it. While, based on our modern sensibilities, the consequences might not be as severe, the situation that Jinny finds herself in is a very real one, and one that leads to her being kicked out of the ‘heaven’ that was 1950s suburban America, and left to languish with the dregs of society – the broken foundations that were quietly covered up by a made-for-TV utopia.
Jinny’s story is one that’s been heard many times in the past – a rich girl with more money than sense falls into the trap of her carnal lusts and is left carrying a child she didn’t want. Essentially, her folly comes from her pride, and her pride comes from the fact that, as an upper middle-class American in the 1950s, she was generally perceived as untouchable. In a time when the ideal image of the USA was its suburbs, with evenly spaced homes, white picket fences, finely cut lawns and two cars on every driveway, to grow up in this period and in these surroundings was to be in the proverbial heaven that the bible promises – a paradise, but one founded on unstable ground.
Personally, the setting I’ve always admired, but the sad reality is that it truly was a pantomime perpetuated by films and TV of the era. Scratch beneath the surface, and children growing up in this period were carrying a lot of emotional baggage that was yearning to escape the façade that had been created for them by their parents, and one that they needed to maintain no matter what in order to show the world that America was leading the way in terms of culture. Don’t get me wrong, this society must have been very pleasant to live in, but it was one queered in the knowledge that, just below the surface, there were many environmental, social, political, cultural and economic problems that one hoped would quietly be brushed aside and forgotten – out of sight, out of mind.
This, therefore, was the foundation of the hippie generation that followed in the 1960s and the defiance these teenagers showed against the straight-laced outlook of their parents, and in this regard Jinny was someone ahead of her time.
In this regard, Jinny was socially secure, benefitting from the ‘heaven’ of her home, but her desire to break the circle in which she’d been raised led to her defiant nature – her natural love of pranks and going against the grain wherever possible. For her, though, she pushed the boundaries once too often, and that in turn cost her the place she had in the American utopia, forever disgraced and beyond redemption – heaven had spat her out.
The story of Jinny is a very simplistic one with regard to how she became accidentally pregnant with Ryan and the fact that, throughout the entire friendship she had with Simon, she believed she was in full control. While it’s up for debate how much she genuinely ‘loved’ Simon Hanson, the manner in which I wrote her character was more that, at first, she found a kindred spirit in her desire to go against the stringent 1950s society, before ultimately feeling sorry for him during her teens, and eventually seeing him as an outlet for her sexual frustration – taking her defiance and mischief to the next level in order to fill her empty and shallow life.
In the end, she has to learn the lesson the hard way, and that lesson comes in the form of an accidental pregnancy and her subsequent disownment. It could have been easy to write Jinny as a bitter old drunk like Simon, but I wanted there to be at least some kind of love in Ryan and Mark’s lives. Indeed, if Jinny had descended into the vile existence of her shotgun husband, it would have somehow betrayed her character. In her youth and teens, she was a girl quite clearly motivated by her own ambition, but now that her ambitions are dead, she instead focusses her drive to overcome the sorry situation into which she’d placed herself and raise her kids to know the love she had in her childhood.
Aside from her lust and her fiery temper, Jinny has no real vices to speak of. The scenes of her smoking and drinking as a girl were done to establish the fact that, despite her love of breaking society’s rules, her body had been raised to reject such things, coughing up the cigarette smoke and puking away the whisky. In her heart, she’s not a bad person, but one whose misplaced sense of self-importance have led her down a dark and irretrievable path.