Can’t Get Enough: Downton Abbey
PBS. Masterpiece Classic. Edwardian England. A month ago, you couldn’t have paid me to think those things would be cool. Call me ignorant, call me close-minded, but it’s true. Luckily, we never had this conversation, because man would I be kicking myself for it now. Just what am I talking about? Downton Abbey, of course, the show that has taken the world by storm.
The second season start a few weeks ago. My good friend Sarah (thank you!!) told me I’d better start watching. Fast forward to me spending an entire day in bed catching up on Season 1′s episodes. Luckily, I didn’t have anything else to do, because even if I had, I can assure you I wouldn’t have gotten it done. This show made me finally understand people’s addictions to t.v. shows. After the first episode, I couldn’t stop. I physically had to keep watching.
Of course I’m drawn to the drama of this soap opera disguised in a PBS shell. But then, there is the history of it. The political events and undercurrents. The class struggle. The fight for women’s rights. The question of one’s role in society. All these aspects bring substance to an otherwise Bachelor-esque tale.
The show has brought to light nuances of life in the early 1900s that I would not have otherwise considered. For example, the immobility of their society both shocks and intrigues me. When Matthew Crawley first arrives and wants to relieve Molesely of his duties, I thought, “wow! How liberating! I hope the rest catch on!” But then I saw how Matthew’s actions made Molesely feel useless, because his only role in life was to be a servant and without that he had no purpose. I cannot imagine living in a world where options are not endless, where my role was essentially assigned to me before my birth.
If you watch the show, you know that all that’s changing. That the war has introduced foreign roles to both the upper-class and the help. That the lines are slowly blurring as wounded soldiers are cared for in Downton Abbey and the girls start to take jobs.
There are so many other conundrums to discuss – What do you think about Mary? What do you make of her initial rebellion against Matthew? Against her parents? Do you think she acts in a more masculine way than the other girls? And what about Lady Sybil and Branson, the chauffeur? Is the backlash from her family, whether fair or not, worth it for love? Do you think she really loves Branson or is she lured in by the forbidden? And will Anna and Mr. Bates ever get their happily ever after?
If you haven’t already seen this sensation of a show, I highly recommend that you start. You can watch the first season on instant Netflix and get caught up on the second season on pbs.org. The next episode in America airs on Sunday at 9 pm EST.