I'm probably the last person to finally get on board with this British Edwardian Era period piece, but I'm already instantly addicted. It's only in the last couple of weeks that I was even able to pull in my local PBS station.
I was trying to figure out why I avoided Downton Abbey last year. It wasn't because I didn't have access. Even though I was deep in thesis writing, it was the winter break between semesters, so I even had access to cable and everything! lol
Yet, I remember purposely avoiding it. I heard the buzz, but I was getting some kind of negative vibe. You know how people can pretend to like something "artistic" because they're "supposed" to like opera or modern art? That's what it sounded like to me, like people were trying too hard. I also had a bad taste in my mouth about the last couple of Masterpiece Theater selections that I'd seen. There was a bit too much child abuse and child exploitation. I'm aware of it, but I can't watch that kind of stuff for entertainment.
But I digress ... The show is set at the country estate of the fictional Earl of Grantham. It follows the lives of its residents including the Earl, his wife, and his three daughters as well as the many household staff.
I could tell you that the house is magnificent, the costumes stunning, and that it is "beautifully photographed." All of that is true ...
But those things did not drive me to the Downton Abbey website at PBS to see if I could watch the past episodes. It was the story and development of the characters that made me stay up to the wee hours of the morning as I caught up and came to understand why the people treated each other as they did.
One of the things that I liked was watching the relationship between family and staff. The fact that there even is a relationship depicted seems rather unusual for one of these films. What that does for me is humanize everyone. It helps me to have sympathy for Lady Mary, despite all of the despicable things she does, when she arranges for one of the staff to visit his mother on her deathbed.
Of course, it's terribly romantic. I am cut to the heart when two of the staff who are very much in love constantly have roadblocks put in their path. It's a wonder that I haven't gone through a box of tissue yet.
But it's not all romance. There's plenty of politics, economics, and intrigue that plays out on the screen though I'll admit that the vehicle for that bears a striking resemblance to romance. However, if you really think about it, it's really a social commentary about how women had to use manipulation because it was the only form of power they had over their own lives.