How had I not heard of this earlier? This show is not only straight up my alley but it also introduced me to my second fictional boyfriend, Matthew Crawley. Mr. Darcy need not fear, he’s still my number one but, if he were to die in a horrific carriage accident, I’d move on to Matthew without skipping too many beats. The first few episodes of Downton Abbey reminded me of Pride and Prejudice with the Earl and Countess of Grantham having only daughters and being desperate to find a suitable heir in order to keep the family estate. However, the more episodes I watched the more I realized it wasn’t just a retelling of a classic story. It’s so much more complicated than that with the family’s problems mixing with those of their staff, mixing with the world around them. In the first season they deal with the Titanic sinking, finding a new heir, a major family scandal and the start of WWI. Pretty exciting stuff!
Mr. Crawley aside (although he is beautiful), the show is absolutely gorgeous! Everything from the beautiful costume design to the amazing set (which is a real English castle – Highclere Castle in Hampshire) is breath taking! The clothes the Crawley family wear are historically accurate, beautiful and extremely well tailored; I’m sure the costume designer will receive (if they haven’t already) awards for their work. Plus, I love the idea of changing into more formal clothes before dinner (especially with a lady’s maid to help me) and dining with tuxedoed men.
This show is not only interesting for the amazing cast and story lines but for the insight into a time and place that most of us haven’t experienced. I find the life of the ultra rich fascinating and always thought it’d be a lifestyle I could warm to: not working, plenty of time for various leisure activities, no housework or cooking but an immaculate house and wonderful food. It seems great in theory but, I realized while watching the lives of the young ladies at Downton, that while some aspects of their lives are freeing, others would be stifling. The societal customs they have to conform to seem so harsh and restrictive. I can’t imagine not being able to choose the man I’m going to marry or my profession.
On the other end of the scale, the inner workings of the estate and its staff are incredible. I never could have imagined the amount of work that goes into the day to day running of a household of Downton’s size. The staff definitely run a tight ship and I’m always amazed at their hard work and dedication. Not only do they do their best to keep the house running, but they are (for the most part) ferociously loyal to the Crawley family and are willing to do things no one would expect from a staff member without even being asked.
To say this show is addictive seems like saying I just like cheesecake; I love cheesecake and I love Downton. The main reason for my new addiction is the characters, they are so well developed that before I knew it I was having a physical reaction to their lives. I had tears in my eyes during the sad times, pits in my stomach during suspenseful times and found myself yelling at characters who weren’t doing what I thought they should (Steveo found himself listening to music on his headphones to avoid my outbursts). Every character is so well cast that the characters you love feel like friends and those you hate feel like personal enemies.
The next season is not expected to be available on PBS until 2013. 2013! I’ll have to wait another year to find out what happens with Matthew, Mary, the Earl of Grantham and Mr. Bates that’s not just disappointing, it’s devastating!
Are you watching Downton Abbey? What do you think?