BBC produced in the UK and broadcast stateside by PBS, seemingly everyone is Downton-obsessed. Be careful not to let that iPhone auto-correct the name to “Downtown” Abbey, or the true fans might turn up their noses at you, in true Grantham-style.
What is it about this early twentieth-century British drama that has everyone hooked and eager for more? Even those who have not watched it [yet] have surely noticed it coming up in conversations these days. People seem to love it for more than just time-wasting television, but why?
Here are a few theories:: ((no spoilers, I promise!))
1. The clothes.
See that picture above? It’s always like that. Sure, I love and appreciate rocking shorts and a t-shirt most days, but those dresses. Sometimes I have to remind myself to listen to the dialogue instead of being distracted by all that dreamy fashion.
2. Well-rounded characters.
Everyone loves a good villain, but real life people are rarely all bad. I love that my heart can empathize even with the character I hated in the last episode! No one is perfectly good either. Just like everyone else I know, these characters have a mix of virtues and flaws.
3. The time period makes no difference.
The way of life at Downton is completely foreign to me. I cannot imagine a real life with servants, nightly fancy dinners, or marrying just for a title, yet I can still completely relate to the stories. It fulfills my theory that “girls are girls are girls,” and the same is true for the guys. We girls get jealous, have our hearts broken, fall in love, can’t make a decision, get too passionate for our own good, listen to the wrong advice, struggle for contentment, and are utterly complex. This can be seen even through one episode. I bet if I could get a guy to watch it, he would agree.
4. We honor justice.
Lord Grantham (the head male) is one of my favorite characters ever (so far). He leads his family and household well, full of wisdom and justice. Though he leads the life of an extremely wealthy aristocrat with a house full of servants, he sees people as people. Even his sometimes snobby daughters have begun to follow in his footsteps. Watch for that.
5. It is extremely well-written.
I have even written parts of this post as if the characters at Downton are real people, which is a great credit to the writers of this show. One Sunday I watched an episode before Bible Study, and had to mentally note that I could not add Lady Grantham to the prayer requests. Oops. Well-done though for making such a captivating story!
6. We love a good hero.
I already said that no one is perfectly good in this story. Still, there are several characters I genuinely admire and respect. We all want to look up to someone. There are men and women here who work with their hands, epitomize the “it’s not about me” ideal, and consistently stand up for what is right. I realize it is a TV show, but in today’s entertainment culture, that makes these qualities so much more admirable! Again, well-done writers.
Even if you don’t (or won’t) watch it, now at least you’ll know what everyone is talking about. For those that do watch, do you agree? Disagree?