I’ve never watched it, and the fact that all I see are laments about how shitty it’s gotten doesn’t inspire me to start. (See also: Lost.)
I still love it, but the plot contrivances are getting more and more strained. 2 examples:
- Plots depending too much on people acting like morons for no conceivable reason. Are they going to find yet another excuse for keeping Thomas around?
- Deus ex Machinae. Oh look! Another crucial letter appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
Also, at this point, it always seems to be the noble (in spirit only) servants setting things right for the noble (in name only) family. The only upstairs characters who seem capable of doing the right thing without help from downstairs are Branson, who is really a downstairs guy, Isobel Crawley, who is from a middle-class background, and the Dowager Countess who is Dame Maggie Smith, and therefore must be written as awesome. Edith’s involvement with Married Guy seems bound to end up in disaster, and it’s near certain that a downstairs person will be the one bailing her out, either directly or indirectly through persuading an upstairs person.
This. I enjoyed the first season a great deal, but I found my interest waning when it became clear that the show was just going to lurch from crisis to crisis. The characters were more than interesting enough to sustain a more naturalistic approach to storytelling, but the people making the show opted for melodrama instead. I guess that’s what sells.
I missed season 1. Enjoyed 2 and 3; just watched ep 1 of season 4.
Lady Mary’s depression was annoying through most of the episode; thank goodness she shook out of it by the end. I’m looking forward to next week.
While I realize all socioeconomic classes experience depression and grieve, I thought her depression was very classist. The fact she had the leisure to sit around feeling sorry for herself probably prolonged it considerably; if one of the downstairs folks had suffered a similar loss (Anna for instance) I doubt they’d have still been wrapped up in it after several months.
I didn’t understand O’Brien and Isobel’s hard ons to help Griggs. Yes, “he’s in the workhouse now, he’s in the workhouse now…” and that’s sad, BUT, he’s a bad man. I’d be very pissed if my friends and employers bent over backwards to help a former friend of mine WHO HAD BLACKMAILED ME at threat of costing me my position! Forgiveness is a virtue and all, but I’ll decide when to administer it.
And then there’s Molesley who is right there and who desperately needs a job and to whom you have- not an obligation, but an attachment of some sort- and you let him stamp tar or whatever he’s doing rather than hire him “because I eat off a tray these days and only take in blackmailers I don’t actually know”.
Didn’t make sense.
And what’s up with the family asking about Edith’s boyfriend? Don’t they know he’s married? Has she slept with him yet? I got the impression she hasn’t.
Liked Season 1, if not quite as much as many of my friends. I found it to be too close to “Upstairs, Downstairs”, so it never felt very fresh and original. Found season 2 a bit of a letdown, and gave up about 3/4 through season 3 to avoid eyestrain from all the rolling. Friends are asking if I will watch season 4, and I suppose eventually, when it is on streaming, I’ll give it a go. There is definitely period stuff I enjoy more than DA.
Yeah, no, ok, that’s basically the exact plot for the next few episodes.
Being an American not as well-versed in British history…is there anything at all culturally or politically interesting that happened in England between the world wars? We at least had prohibition and gangsters to spice up life. Otherwise, I fear the high drama will hinge around financial planning of the farm leases.
I loved the first 3 seasons and watched them again in prep for Season 4. I was not crazy about the ending of Season 3 (cheap shot, but whatever…actors move on). Episode 1 of Season 4 SUCKED. I did not make it through, and although I did DVR it…I have not bothered to re-watch. I will probably maybe watch Ep 2 – and it better be fantastic or I am done.
The general strike, the great depression, the flirtation in some quarters with Fascism. There’s material there.
Well tried to make 3 grinning smilies and failed, so you’ll just have to visualize it.
Not forgetting Wallis Simpson and the whole Abdication thingy! Plenty of material, yes.
Anyway: I don’t fit the criteria mentioned in the OP as I was never in love with this show. But it’s popular, so I watch it (or most of most episodes, anyway), in order to figure out why it’s popular.
My current theory: because it’s SUCH a false and distorted picture of the whole phenomenon of class hierarchy. For example, in D.O., the servants are absolutely assured that The Family will take care of them financially for their entire lives, no matter what illness might strike them. And The Family are absolutely assured that the servants love them devotedly. And both Family and servants are quite chummy…why, they’re friends, really! Good, good friends!
This is not, to say the least, an accurate portrayal of the class system in early 20th century Britain. The servants and Family really were not friends at all.
Oops, that should have been “D.A.”
In re Downton Abbey’s popularity: I liked what David Mitchell zeroed in on as being the problem indicated by the show’s success:
(from the previously-mentioned review by Mitchell; reported on here:
So, it’s a bit of verisimilitude – wouldn’t that be a good thing, artistically?
Good point: their motivations were a bit frail. The best explanation for O’Brien is simply a means to help Isobel, but that doesn’t hold up to the way it developed.
Also, Robert’s playing his usual role of being an idiot simply to provide conflict, in his unwillingness to include Mary. He uses the excuse of protecting her in her sorrow. A reason that would have held up better was because it’s just not what women do, or something more traditional.
Still, I enjoyed the show, and I’ll enjoy tonight’s ep too I bet. I’m easily amused. It’s a gift.
There were a lot of changes after WWI. A lot of servants went off to war or war work and didn’t return to service. An entire generation of young men was decimated; which meant a lot of women who otherwise would’ve married had to make lives for themselves as spinsters. Women got limited suffrage in 1918 and had a host of new career opportunities (like being able to practice law for the first time). Working class electors (property & income restrictions were removed from men in 1918) enable the Labour Party to rise (1924 saw the first Labour minority government).
Social moors got a lot looser, this was the era of the flapper, access to contraception expanded for women (even single women with the right connections) who could, cocaine was fashionable for bright young things (having only recently gone from being sold over the counter at Harrod’s to being illegal). There’s a lot of interesting stuff Fellowes can do with Lady Rose; she’s really not like Sybil at all.
The show would need to last about 4-5 more series or have a large timeskip do that. The '20s did see the upper classes start to flirt with fascism after seeing what Mussolini was doing in Italy. And the geek in me would like to see some kind of reference to the Imperial Airship Scheme.
By the time Fascism is becoming a popular undercurrent, Thomas the chauffeur-in-law will either be a leader of the British fascist party or the snobbiest person at Downton (making the Dowager look like Dolly Parton in down home plain folksiness).
Hear, hear! Someone in SDMB who has hope and optimism in the storytelling.
I loved Isobel Crawley’s statement that Lady Mary is “so opaque.”
I like every aristocratic bone in her body. The thing about the rich is that
they can be terribly amusing. Another good comment was Lord Grantham’s
response to the Dowager Countess saying “Branson’s small talk is getting
smaller all the time.” He retorted “Well, not all of us can speak like Oscar Wilde.”
Please bring it on! Whether it’s soap, duck soup, or high Tory drama.
Cheers, Singanas 1-13-14
I enjoyed the first season, though I felt there was one sister too many clogging up the works. I then lasted about eight minutes into season two when I walked away. My reason - Fellowes’ vision of World War I trench life was so pathetically awful that it made my teeth hurt. Honestly, Blackadder had a more realistic take. Stick to the drawing rooms, Julie baby.
I long ago proposed that the perfect ending to the show would be “The Crawleys travel to America on the Hindenburg.” No idea why they would leave from Germany, but if Fellowes can use the Influenza epidemic as Deus Ex Machina, I am sure he can figure it out.