D is for Downton Abbey

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Yes, I am a Downton addict.

I came very late to the party, I must admit.  I hadn’t seen a single episode until Christmas Eve, 2012.  I was up late, wrapping Christmas presents and PBS was having a Downton Abbey marathon.  It continued until about 3 in the morning—just as I was wrapping the last present.  After that I was hooked.

The Downton Abbey phenomenon is far-reaching in America.  I suppose we have always been fascinated with the aristocratic culture we left behind in 1776.  We thrill to a title, bow to a baronet, vie for a viscount, moon over a marquess, and dream of a duke.  And we absolutely adore the Earl of Grantham and his family.

Downton Abbey gives its viewers the rare Triple Crown of theatre:  excellent writing, superb acting, and exquisite production values.  From the fabulous period costumes, to the luscious set—Highclere Castle, the home of the eighth Earl and Countess Carnavon—to Dame Maggie Smith as Dowager Duchess Violet Crawley, a role she was born to play, to the poignant storylines, this period drama gives us not only a glimpse of a little explored time period (early 1920s) but shows us the elegance of aristocratic living just as circumstances were beginning to alter.  One of the plots this season on Downton shows us that the old ways of life are beginning to change, to be superseded by modern conveniences and notions.  At one point Mrs. Huges says, “Perhaps parents don’t want their children going into service.”  Unheard of a generation before, when being a servant in a noble household was the best employment many working class parents could have dreamed of for their sons and daughters.

In this respect, I think Downton Abbey allows us to see a parallel in the changes we are experiencing in our times as well.  We are on the leading edge of the technological age.  Many of the parents and grandparents who watch the program can relate to the changing society evidenced in this English household.  We remember a time before the internet, computers, cell phones, when children obeyed a little better and life was a little slower, a little sweeter.  We can see these same changes in the world of Downton—children marrying the ‘wrong” people, people defying the proprieties in their search for happiness, others begrudging progress when it presents itself as the logical thing to do.

Are you a Downton devotee?  What do you enjoy most about the show?

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11 Responses to D is for Downton Abbey

  1. I hadn’t seen any of it until I stayed with my daughter over the holidays and then I got kinda sucked in. 🙂 If you love Downton AND you’re crafty, there’s a fun knitting game going on too–http://alanalorens.com/2014/01/10/the-2014-downton-knit-a-long-jimmy-beans-style/

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  2. I’m the skunk at the picnic. Although I’ve heard a great deal about Downton Abbey, I’ve never seen a single episode. I’ll admit it sounds interesting, I believe we have to import it on US PBS from the States, as I don’t think it airs on any network here in Canada. It’s not even on Netflix.ca.

    I’m sure you’re all soaking up the history and drama, and I think it’s wonderful that PBS has the sense to air these shows that give us some perspective on the world today by introducing us to the world of yesterday.

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  3. melissakeir says:

    I’ve never seen it. I don’t have much time with three jobs so I use every moment to clean the house and take care of my family. I’ve heard wonderful things about it… along with Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc. I’m sad I know.

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  4. Daryl Devore says:

    I have deliberately stayed away – I love British TV and anything with Maggie Smith in it you know is fantastic. And I know I’ll get addicted to it. Someday I’ll do what you did and marathon the series.

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  5. I have not seen it. I did get the first season on DVD, but haven’t had time to watch it.

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  6. lizaoconnor says:

    I am a perfect candidate for loving Downtown Abbey, but I’ve never seen a show. I really need to search and record it on my DVR. I have the technology. I’ve no excuse not to partake in something I know I’ll love.

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  7. Angelyn says:

    Any time a story has great characters you never want it to end. And so it becomes a saga. Back in the 70s I seem to remember there were a lot of great family sagas like this. Maybe we’re trending back to that.

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  8. D'Ann says:

    I LOVE Downton! My daughter got me hooked, we watch it together.

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  9. Cd Brennan says:

    HUGE Downton fan! I came late to the party too. I had heard about it from my mum and sisters, but not until last Autumn did I pick up Seasons 1-3 and watch it all back to back. Well, I picked up the first series and then scurried back to the video store for the others. Now, I have a reminder on my computer when Downton is on. I can’t miss it! What do I love about it? That it IS so different from our contemporary culture, one that I am not so sure I completely believe in myself.

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  10. gemmabrocato says:

    I love anything Downton. I really enjoy the equitable camera time split between upstairs and downstairs. Sometimes the servants are treated like family, while other times, like furniture. The dichotomy is astonishing. My only complaint is that I believe Julian Fellows had aspirations to be like George R.R. Martin. I hate when the kill of beloved characters.

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  11. margeryscott says:

    I adore Downton Abbey. Like you, I came late and still haven’t caught up since I missed a season in Canada. My grandmother was “in service” in a home much like Downton Abbey in the early 1900’s. The show gives me a glimpse of how she lived during that time. I can’t help wondering which character she might have been.

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