*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 me. There’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?