Chuffed to Bits: The Top 5 Reasons Why I Love “Downton Abbey” – What’s Your Reason?

*Warning* If you don’t watch Downton Abbey, I don’t recommend reading this, as it does contain a few spoilers.  But I do highly recommend that you start watching this show immediately so you’ll be all caught up when it starts again, and so you’ll have a sufficient amount of time to be sad like the rest of us because it’s over (for now).

As I began to write this, the Downton Abbey Series 2 finale (American translation: Season 2) was just hours away from airing here in the States.  I’ve since watched it, and it was both brilliant and bittersweet.  I’m quite reluctant to say goodbye—albeit temporarily—to what has become one of my favourite shows.  I’m sure you’ve heard by now that we won’t get any new episodes in the U.S. until January of 2013.  I know, I know… It’s very depressing.

I’ve been watching this show since the first episode aired on my local PBS station, and at that time, it wasn’t getting anywhere near as much press as it currently gets on this side of the Pond.  I only knew of two other people at the time who watched it, and they were just as enamoured of it as I was.  As a fan of the show, I’m thrilled that Downton Abbey is now getting the public attention, press coverage, and the award recognition that it deserves.  Not only because it increases the number of people with whom I can dish about it, but primarily because it means there are more new episodes yet to come!

I keep seeing mainstream news articles trying to dissect why this show has become so popular—as if it’s some sort of miracle that people are actually interested in it.  Personally, I don’t really see why it’s so surprising.  Despite the influx of ridiculous reality shows on the air today, I still think people appreciate quality television programming.  So as I sit here and mourn the loss of what has become my Sunday evening ritual (Downton + a glass of wine + a piece of dark chocolate = bliss), I thought I’d make a list of just some of the reasons why I love Downton Abbey so much, to keep it fresh in my mind and close to my heart.

It’s jolly good Telly.  I’m a fan of the work of Julian Fellowes, and he’s certainly done an incredible job with this show.  The writing and the acting are both fantastic; I’m invested and interested in all of the characters and what happens to them.  There are characters we love to love, and characters we love to hate.  And even though most of the time I’m growling at the cruel and conniving ways of Thomas and O’Brien and hoping they’ll get their comeuppance, it’s simply a testament to the abilities of the actors and the writers—who create the occasional moment where the audience can bear witness to their vulnerability and humanity—that I’m interested in what happens to them, too.

Matthew Crawley.  Oh Matthew, my dearest Matthew… Where do I begin?  Well, I’d really better not, as we could be here for ages if I do.  He’s the Mr. Darcy of Downton; a kind, proud, intelligent, swoonworthy bloke that I cheer for, adore, and dearly wish I could travel back in time to enjoy an evening of dinner, dancing, and scintillating conversation with.

It’s unpredictable and scandalous.  Just when I think I know what’s going to happen, they change course and head in a direction that I just didn’t see coming.  That’s certainly part of the appeal of Downton Abbey for meThere’s so much predictability in television shows and films these days, that it’s fun to watch something like this and have my jaw drop to the floor (Mary and the, um, “incident” with the Turkish diplomat, anyone?  Or what about Lord Grantham and that maid?  Gah!) because the plot took a wicked turn I didn’t expect.

Dame Maggie Smith.  She is absolutely magical in the role of Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham.  I get so excited when I see that she’s part of a scene, because I know she’ll steal it effortlessly with a cheeky one-liner that only she can deliver with such style and sass.  I simply can’t wait to watch her and Shirley MacLaine go toe-to-toe next year.

It’s escapism at its finest.  I laugh, I cry, I get angry, I root for characters like Anna and Bates to triumph… I love submerging myself in the world of Downton Abbey.  I know some who avoid period pieces because they don’t think they can relate to them or become engaged in the storyline.  But this show is different.  I can sympathize with these characters—with their struggles and their victories—whether they live in the posh part of the house, or downstairs in the servants’ quarters.

Well, now I’m off to watch my Downton DVDs and do a bit of wallowing.  But I want to hear from you.  Why do you love Downton Abbey?

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  1. avatarLisa says

    I so love Downton Abbey. I don’t know if I can wait to see what will happen to poor Bates. I just love looking at all the gorgeous clothing. I always loved Regency Period clothing, but I think I have a new favorite.

  2. avatarLaury says

    I am such a big fan. I discovered Dowton Abbey during Season 2 episode 3. I quickly looked on Netflix & streamed season 1 all 7 episodes in one night.. I started around 3pm & finished up around 10pm that night. The next day was Sunday, the night the Show appears here in California. SO I went to the PBS website & watched the first 2 episodes on line…
    Now that I am all caught up, I am going through horrible withdrawls… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE hurry back.. I miss Downton So much..

  3. avatarCecilia Cygnar says

    Because it has something for everyone: drama, romance, comedy, intrigue, sophistication, wit, history, war. The list goes on and on!

  4. avatarBeth says

    What’s not to love?????? The British have always ALWAYS had the ability to be much more cerebral than us Yanks.

    Why our television networks don’t feel we’re intelligent enough NOT to constantly have sex thrown in our faces, I have no idea.

    Thank god the Brits do!!!

    Just found out that Foyle’s War is coming back – see? More cerebral entertainment.

    Thinking is not overrated!!!

  5. avatarThe Duchess of Calloway says

    Downton Abbey is my favorite show. The reasons are almost too numerous to post, but I shall try nevertheless. First of all, I think the combination of excellent writing and the superb cast, makes for a storyline that grips you upon first watching.

    Then there is the beautiful location – Highclare Castle! What a magnificent home for all of the inhabitants of Downton Abbey. Right down to Pharaoh and Isis. The costumes and set design, especially in the servant’s areas is an excellent display of the finest details.

    The twists and turns of Downton make for some jaw dropping surprises. I literally spoke to my television when Lord Grantham took the maid into his arms “NO!”, not to mention the sheer and palpable electricity between Lady Mary and Matthew at times.

    Downton was and will continue to be (during Season Three) the highlight of my viewing week. Not to be missed at any cost! Thank you to Julian Fellowes, the Cast, PBS, and the owners of Highclare Castle for providing such a delightful escape from this maddening world. Such an escape is needed and at Downton, provided so wonderfully.

  6. avatarSumMary says

    Between seasons, how about a musiccontest: new lyrics for Downton to the tune of Petula Clark’s “Downtown”?



  8. avatarDenise Thompson says

    I am going to London in May & have signed up for the tour of Highclere! Hopefully we will learn all sorts of backstage goodies! I CAN’T WAIT!!!

  9. avatarLydia says

    Downton + a glass of wine + a piece of dark chocolate = bliss — sounds like a great Sunday evening ritual to me!

    Seriously, I love Downton for all the reasons Amie gives. Plus, it’s a great example of what British TV can still do so well – although they’re even giving in to mind numbing reality TV – the ensemble production. The talent that sits around both the Crawley’s dining room table and the down in the servant’s hall is awesome!

  10. avatarDeAnn says

    I totally agree with Amie and Lydia, in that you can enjoy great performances and wonderful acting and not have to suffer through the anguish of ‘reality’ TV, which is pathetic and boring, IMHO.
    I am a huge fan of Maggie Smith and the rest of the cast, who are fabulous at their roles. The sets and costumes are beautiful and the show takes us all back to a time of great grace under pressure and exquisite manners.
    Someday I’d love to visit Highclere Castle and have tea in the place the characters have created such memorable and delicious drama.
    I love every minute of Downton Abby, and I find it horrible that I must wait until next year for Season 3! I imagine the Dowager Countess would have something witty and ascerbic to say about that!