I’ve decided to try my hand at writing my thoughts on television programs I watch. My first love remains movies, but there are a few television programs that I follow borderline religiously.
My first post will be on Downton Abbey, and as always a fair warning as there will probably be spoilers, so tread carefully.
I started watching Downton Abbey about two years ago, and I have been hooked since. It is my dose of soap-operaesque drama that is justified by the fact that it is a period drama with an awesome opening.
Someone once asked me what I see in the show; he said “I feel like it’s a show dedicated entirely to the lives of arrogant and self-important people.” That is true to a certain extent, as it follows the lives of the royalty of the Downton Manor (the Crawley family). We can relate to some of their actions (like Rose’s rebelliousness and Tom’s inability to assimilate into the old money culture), but other actions are beyond the scope of many of our lives. (I personally can’t see myself hosting a giant picnic on my front lawn.) But the story isn’t just a pseudo-documentary of rich people’s lives, it’s also a view on the lives of the people downstairs, the servants. (I believe this concept was originated in an older TV series called Upstairs, Downstairs.)
Progressing through the series, I’ve grown to “care” as a viewer for the people living downstairs and even for the family members, in all of their wealth. The series has served to humanize and depict the struggles of those in power and of their servants. Call me a sap (which I probably am), but I sympathized with the struggled of all the members of Downton. When Sybil died in childbirth in Season 3, I grieved alongside the family; for all of their money, they couldn’t prevent the death of their child. Even Thomas, who is probably the most conniving character in the show, won my sympathy when he was practically kicked out because of his homosexuality.
As far as the show goes, it’s lost more and more of it’s spunk from the first season. True the Dowager Countess is still hilarious; she’s so old it doesn’t make sense for her to be alive, but so much of the show’s flavor depends on her sass and her (practically entirely comical) arrogance as a wealthy and upper class member of society. The theme song is still awesome too. But, I fear that the show is starting to run dry of material. Subplots are starting to get drawn out (or at least that’s what it feels like sometimes). Some of the best characters in the series were killed off in the last season. And they almost killed off the Dowager (foreshadowing for next season?), but she came out kicking like a badass, with a better relationship with Isobel Crawley.
Matthew’s death in the Christmas Special after Season 3 was disheartening, especially since things seemed to be going wonderfully for him and Mary, especially with the new baby. (As a side note, these title “Christmas Special” is horribly misleading, not watching the special is like missing twenty five percent of the content from that season.) However, my faith in content for the series was revitalized after his death; it was a definite must for Mary’s character development, which throughout the series has been fabulous. We’ve watched her grow from a young woman, rigid in the lifestyle of her class, while fearing spinsterhood and a life arranged by the wishes of her parents, to a woman, who by the fourth season, is independent, mature beyond her years, and gracious and compassionate to everyone. I can say that Matthew just served as a three season long foil and stimulus of growth for Mary’s character. (If it isn’t clear by now either I love Mary’s character…..and these figurines are awesome.) Edith’s personal struggles have added something to wait on for the upcoming season. Some new suitors for Mary (too soon, but no surprise there) were introduced in Season 4 and I’m hoping things will carry on in an interesting fashion. My personal support goes to the pig man; what woman wouldn’t be wooed by getting down and dirty with the pigs.
Stay tuned for review to come on Breaking Bad, which I finally started after months of people recommending it to me, and Sherlock, which is scheduled to return after its horrendously long hiatus.