Monday, 4 June 2012

Downton Abbey

You know if I like something that it is no longer a fringe concept. I seem to only jump on bandwagons once they have got rolling and they are ready to roll out of town.  Maybe it’s smart. I’m waiting to see what the mainstream of society thinks about a particular trend - the people of the world are my test subjects, and I will not become part of a popular activity/idea/movement unless it has been proven to be funny, to not cause cancer, and certainly not until there is extensive tie-in merchandising.
Which brings me to Downton Abbey, of course.

My friend Sarah, who keeps me in the know about all things British cozy/period drama/ways of cooking with soda pop, told me a very long time ago that there was a show I should watch called Downton Abbey, that I would love it. I said, I will get on that, dear friend, because I know you’ve never directed me falsely. 

Two years later...
Oh my God, I love Downton Abbey!
And so does the rest of the sentient world, apparently.
What is it about this show that makes me swoon with gender stereotypical rapture? The utter romance of star crossed lovers Mary and Matthew? The tension of the pure and true love between Mr. Bates and Anna. The sweetness of waiting for the big-time come-uppance that must befall Thomas and  O’Brien? Does anyone know where they poop? We haven’t seen that yet, have we. With so much attention to historical detail, you’d think they’d show us the most important room in the house/yard.
Is it the simplicity of living according to strict rules that might be inconvenient, but also make it so much easier to plan one’s day? 
There is something of a social class tourism in it. There is the voyeurism of peeping into the peerage. I think it’s a kind of classy Real Housewives of the Blah Blah Blah, only Downton Abbey is Real Gentry of the British Countryside. Instead of wine thrown in faces, you get cold shoulders, which has a much greater impact, I think. You can’t rinse out disdain.
And the lives of the staff has something appealing about it. Although they work long hours for little recognition, there is a sense of family and loyalty that gives purpose and dignity to their lives, even if those beliefs may or may not be justified.
i just can’t decide who I want to be, Anna or Mary. Mary is strong, yet simpering. Anna is strong and principled, yet doesn’t get to wear those awesome dresses that the “upstairs” gals do.  How to chose, how to chose?

 And who doesn’t love The Dowager Countess (I wonder if Maggie Smith wearies of hearing herself being referred to as “a treasure”?). I even started a needlepoint portrait of Our Favourite Countess of the One Liners. But I made a mistake and used the totally wrong colour for her skin tone and she looks like The Zombie Dowager Countess. 

Hilarious, but not what I had in mind.
Downton Abbey does romanticize the past a fair bit. Things are much better today. I mean, if the son of a Turkish diplomat died in my sex-time bed, I mean, I would be telling EVERYONE.

Yah, fellas, I’m THAT good.

As it is, no one dies in my sex-time bed, although Brian has told me on many occasions that I am making him die inside. Which is kind of the same, right?

It’s my soap opera, and I love it. The only difference is that we have to wait months and months to find out what happens next. Apparently it’s in production now for release in the UK in Sept and then in on PBS in January of 2013. These Brits are like crack dealers. They get us hooked and then they make us wait and beg and cry. And then, after 6 amazing episodes, the show disappears. Why can’t they be like American television where a series is beaten to death and you just want it to stop because it’s like watching a fly spinning on it’s back in a puddle of water. Just die already, CSI. It will be so much easier for everyone.
So wait I shall, like the rest of the world, for the return of our favourite period drama. Not to be confused with the period drama I have on a less and less regular basis, but used to be once a month or so. And British television series, like my own period - well you never know when they’ll show up or how long they’ll last or how many people will get slapped because of it. Long live Anna and Mr. Bates!


  1. I want so badly to be Mr. Bates. Well, except for the horrible prison part. Mr. Bates gets the most gunslinger shots on television, and deservedly so.

  2. I really need to check out this show.

  3. i was not expecting to love this show as much as i did/do. do you and brian watch MI-5? justin & i are hooked on that one too. all 9 seasons are on netflix. start at episode and get comfy. do NOT watch before bed...