Alt=series titles and a view of Downton Abbey

When I first heard about this show, and its growing popularity, I was skeptical and dismissive.  It sounded like another British drama about rich Victorian white people with petty and stupid problems that I didn’t care about.  But now I’m hooked.  And I’ve realized the show is not what I thought it was going to be.  Sure, much of it is about a rich English family with some petty and stupid problems.  But it is also a show that addresses class difference, women’s rights, family problems, hatin’ on the Irish, and societal expectations and relationships.

It is also a show that is not afraid to interact with the actual historical events of the time period the show is set in (roughly 1910s and 20s in this case).  Many shows set in a particular time period tend to also divorce themselves from the actual news and events of the day.  Downton Abbey carefully integrates the lives of the characters with issues and events that would have actually concerned turn-of-the-century British people (the sinking of the Titanic, WWI, Spanish influenza, Irish independence) without it coming off as forced or unnatural.

Plus, the show regularly introduces and gets rid of characters.  This has helped keep my interest.  Shows that maintain the same cast for season after season can sometimes grow stale without new characters to reinvigorate the plot or character interactions (to be fair, sometimes this is also done poorly just before a show is cancelled).  Downton Abbey regularly kills off main characters and minor characters alike (At an alarming rate.  Downton Abbey is a death trap).  A number of minor characters show up for a bit as guests or employees and then disappear.  Sometimes we see them again (Ethel).  You never really know who will stay and who will go.  It keeps you on your toes.  There were a number of times I was convinced they were going to kill off Bates.

The fact that the show is set in a large British estate also provides the viewer access the a very unfamiliar world (especially to an American audience).  The setting alone is spectacular, rich, and odd.

One of my favorite aspects of the show is character dynamics.  There are so many characters with so many different background stories, faults, quirks, and personalities that it is easy to become entranced by these shifting character profiles alone (the changing dynamics between O’Brien and Thomas for example).

I could go on and on about this show, but I think I’ll leave it with a question.  For those who watch the show, who is your favorite character?  I think mine is Bates, but I’ll have to think about it some more.

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