It’s been a divisive and controversial year of Emmerdale stories where big plots have had their ups and downs. Kim had a dodgy first few months settling back into the village and we lost nice guys Matty and Ryan to some dodgy toxic masculinity which came as a big blow to their popularity. Then there were characters who started with real promise like Billy and Will and Jamie, who then turned out just to be a bit dull.
But those aside, what were the worst moments overall in 2019?
6 – Joe – dead or alive?
It feels like a long time ago now, but for the first few months of 2019, everyone was still banging on about what happened to Joe Tate. Viewers were left wondering if he was alive or murdered by Graham, while Cain and Debbie were torn apart with Cain believing he killed Joe with a single punch. Come March it was revealed Joe is in fact alive, but after all that ambiguity the climax was as flat as a pancake. Ned Porteous made a cameo only in photographic form (which screamed hasty rewrite) and disappointed many who were begging for his return. This story also meant the torment Cain went through was for nothing, it meant Graham’s agony and spiral into drink about ending the life of his best friend came from just letting him free, and Kim’s murderous intent fizzled into nothing. The Joe, Graham and Kim business was a muddled mess anyway but as we continued to watch Kim and Graham interact, the confusing backstories and rivalries made even less sense. Thankfully since Joe was revealed to be alive, everything has been brushed under the carpet and it felt like a weight lifted – phew!
5 – Kerry and Amy
Chances are if you were watching Emmerdale in the summer, two of your most hated characters would have been Kerry and Amy. After splitting with Dan and reuniting with Amy, there was promise for Kerry and after all, she was one of the few highlights of the Amelia story last year. Then came a sudden and contrived dilemma from Amy – she needed money and fast. Kerry cooked up a plan to break into the factory and steal the charity money. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they eventually started a fire which destroyed the factory and killed Frank. Not content with those crimes, Kerry implicated Frank and then cosied up to Tracy to assuage her guilt. For over a month they kept their crimes secret, with minimal guilt beyond Amy’s repetitive “I feel terrible” refrain. After a showdown with Tracy, Kerry hit her head and was hospitalised and there was an attempt to say that this was her payback rather than actually owning up to the truth. With neither character leaving its no surprise that there was no confession and now, months on, it’s all been glossed over. Frustratingly however, Kerry and Amy’s attitudes and behaviour were so unlikeable and manipulative it might have sullied them for good. They were downright unpleasant to watch and if we were meant to feel sorry for them, it failed. Can we really laugh along with Kerry when there was no comeback for what she did to Tracy and Vanessa?
4 – Maya anti-climax
Maya’s grooming and abuse of Jacob was Emmerdale’s biggest and most controversial story of 2019. It benefitted from moments of great high tension and suspense – particularly during the reveal of her behaviour in the Big Night Out episodes – and some solid performances. Louisa Clein especially was wickedly manipulative and the character deserved to go out with a big finale. Unfortunately though, justice for Jacob and a comeuppance for Maya was sorely lacking. Rather than the abuse be treated in the same vein as say Charity and Bails or Aaron and Gordon, with a victory for the victim and a satisfying (albeit unrealistic) sentence, Maya wasn’t even tried for the actual crimes she committed, but a lesser charge. In the lead up to her exit, Emmerdale told a muddled story with lines of dialogue that sounded like she and Jacob were some forbidden love story and with-holding his realisation that she abused him for months. Granted, the sentencing and Jacob’s reaction might be more true to life, but it didn’t make for a satisfying conclusion. By the end of the story, it was going in circles without any sight of a police enquiry or anything resembling a shocked response from the villagers. The teens were absent, as was Jessie, who all should have been playing key roles. The impact was completely wasted and with only the Metcalfe clan effected, it suffered from repetitive scenes and a really flat ending.
3 – Bear Wolf and the Wrestling
We all know when it comes to humour, it can be really hit and miss. But a real low of Emmerdale in 2019 was the character of Bear Wolf and his excruciating wrestling shenanigans. After Mandy’s brief return at the start of the year, Paddy’s paternity was in question and he went looking for his biological father, an infamous wrestling letch known as Bear Wolf. I’m not convinced Paddy needed any big family discovery story and certainly not one that involved such a loathsome and unfunny character, but his quest took him as far as Belfast. Anytime wrestling was involved, it was an embarrassment to watch, laboured and painful at times. On paper the hilarity of a grown man in a wig and a costume calling himself Bear Wolf might have sounded comedy gold but the reality was one of the worst moments of 2019. Since those scenes Bear has toned down and has all but slotted right into Paddy’s family and you can just about forget how woeful his introduction was.
2 – Mishandled Rape Aftermath
The immediate aftermath to Victoria’s horrifying rape was Emmerdale at its best. However, what followed has been misjudged and uncomfortable viewing with poor Victoria used as a passive torture victim in her own storyline. Victoria has had barely any agency in this story beyond the odd line of empty dialogue and at times the writing for her has been horrible, even seeming to side with her rapist over her brother. Tying in this story with Robert’s exit meant repetitive scenes of the siblings reaching an understanding, only for Robert to interfere, and the constant harassment by Lee and Wendy without contacting the police meant Vic’s decisions often bowed to the cogs of the plot, rather than narrative choices which empowered her. Now with Wendy in the village acting like a victim, the framing of the story is all wrong and continues to force Vic to live in the constant hell of what Lee did to her. She didn’t get justice, and still she’s continuously punished. This story quickly derailed and given Emmerdale’s successful history of handling rape stories with sensitivity and care, it’s been an even bigger disappointment. It also felt an especially cruel choice to give a character who always wanted to be a mother a baby in such terrible circumstances. Victoria deserved better than this.
1 – Nate and Moira affair
Without question the worst story of 2019 was Moira and Nate’s affair. Not just was this story loathed by fans but it dragged on for months and tarnished its main characters in the process. Cain and Moira had a rough start to the year, but even that couldn’t begin to explain why Moira’s head was turned by the new and creepy farmhand who had less personality than a stack of hay bales. Cain and Moira’s turbulent marriage might not have worked the same since their split and reunion in 2018, but they were loved by viewers and Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb’s chemistry was unmatched. So why trash it? Emmerdale followed a predictable path of Moira cheating with Mills and Boon style romps in the barn, but with sub-zero chemistry, all it did was remind viewers of Moira’s scorching fling with Cain way back when. With Moira’s weak motivation to cheat, the story threw her character under the bus, jeopardising her marriage and family for nothing, all the while viewers suffered through week upon week of supposedly sexy hook ups and on-off arguments. As for Nate, viewers long suspected he had ulterior motives but with no hints that he had a mission in mind, he came across as vapid and dull, but when he revealed himself as Cain’s son we were supposed to become suddenly interested just because he was Cain’s. Alas, it did not magic him an engaging personality. Even with a clunky backstory for his mother and Cain, sympathy was thin on the ground. In an attempt to make Nate likeable and fit in Emmerdale have now framed Nate as the lonely victim and he’s even won round the Dingles, as for the audience? Jury’s out.