My love/hate relationship with Downton Abbey

i admit to being a fan of the popular PBS series “Downton Abbey.”  It’s a wonderful glance at history yet I am fascinated and repulsed all at the same time.  Admittedly the whole monarchy thing is troubling to me even now. I find it terribly repressive.   Though it’s a television program, I have to think it’s based on harsh reality.

The good…..the costumes are fabulous.  They showcase the times in which they were worn and as a lover of history, and pretty things, I love to see what the characters are wearing each week.  It cheered me to read recently that much of the clothing is fragile and smells because it cannot be laundered.  Perverse humor but I relish the thought of some of those dolts of characters are wearing stinky clothes.

In fact, all of the period costumes, cars, residences, furniture, etc., seem to be well done.  To me each week is a glimpse into a living museum.   I like that and the fact there appears to have been real work done to ensure historical accuracy.

The acting is well done.  Because I can relate emotionally to so many of the characters, I know the writing is done well in addition to the portrayals of the characters’ actions.  I’m able to sympathize with many of the characters (Anna, Tom Branson, Daisy), to laugh at some (Molesley, Lord Grantham), and feel equal parts revulsion and fascination with some (Mr. Barrow, Lady Mary, Carson).  On the whole I enjoy the viewing experience and have seen each episode.

But I can’t help thinking the English class system is as morally repugnant as the racism that was (is) practiced here in the US.  Much of the aristocracy shown on the program are morally bereft and no better than the common criminals they scorn.  They cheat and swindle as well as any commoner.  For the most part, I find them boring and dull with no real role in society.  Yes, they exist to “provide for the village” as all good estates must but if all I did was change clothes, open mail, and act snobbishly all day I would die of boredom.

Yes, yes, it’s a work of fiction.  But is it?  I love how Julian Fellowes has portrayed the Americans in the guises of Martha and Harold Levinson.  Their stereotype is the nouveau-riche ethnic American, so vividly portrayed as the West Egg faction in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s immortal “The Great Gatsby.”  And the acting of Shirley McClaine and Paul Giamatti does those characters justice.

The verbal sparring of Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton is also well worth watching an episode.  In American fashion their characters of Violet and Isobel have morphed into “Visobel.”  I love to see them in action.

My predictions for the final season?  Michael Gregson will return from the “dead” to rescue Lady Edith from her life of misery.  Lady Mary will either acquire five more suitors or choose Charles Blake.  Carson and Mrs. Hughes will buy their small hotel, get married and retire.  Mr. Barrow will get his comeuppance.  Mr. Mason will die and Daisy and Mrs. Patmore will take over his farm and develop a smashing bakery.

Seriously, I have no idea what will happen.  I just hope the ridiculous Anna/Mr. Bates drama is put to bed once and for all.  And maybe Mary, Tom, and Edith will understand what true parenting is all about.

About thequarryschild

A self-described forensic junkie, Beth Anderson spends her days shaping young minds to ask critical questions and wonder “whodunit.” Beth resides in the Capital District of New York and spends her free time reading and solving the great mysteries. Her love of swimming, tennis and sports provides the basis for one of the lead characters in her new book The Quarry’s Child. Beth is one of the founding members of the Upper Hudson Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime (aka Mavens of Mayhem), a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, a survivor of a visit to an active aircraft carrier while it was at sea, and a published poet in Soundings, a literary journal. Beth continues to instill a love for mystery fiction in her students as she has for over twenty years. Photo credit: Quinn Mulvey
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