Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Guilty Pleasure: Downton Abbey

Actually, I don’t feel guilty about liking this show at all. It’s awesome and critically acclaimed. It is British.
I had no idea this show existed until this year’s Golden Globes, when it won about a bazillion awards, and I searched in vain for it on my DVR schedule. My Netflix queue, realizing that I am always watching period British things, suggested it and even told me I could watch it instantly. Oh Netflix, you know me so well. So, I dutifully went through all the first season in about three weeks time, and absolutely loved it. If you haven’t seen it, get on Netflix and request the DVD, or watch it on streaming if you’ve got it. You will not be sorry.
The first season is set in pre-WWI England, and the storyline documents the lives of the residents of Downton Abbey, a grand home owned by the Earl of Grantham. As all other great houses in England at the time, there is a big staff of servants, from the Butler at the top of the hierarchy, to the kitchen maid. The Earl has an American wife, a “dowager” mother, and three daughters. On the first episode, you learn that his cousin and heir has died in the Titanic, and they are left to search for the next living male relative to inherit the title and the house. Downstairs, a new valet (pronounce the T) comes to Downton to serve the Earl, and stirs things up. From there, you’ll have to watch to get the rest of the scoop!
The story is poignant and beautiful, from love to intrigue to ambition and even some nice snarky British humor (is there any better humor??). Maggie Smith is wonderful as the Dowager.
As my Mom and I watched all of season 1 and caught up with what I missed of season 2 on the PBS website and tuned into the Bachelor the following Monday, we remarked how funny it was that the shows we were both most into at the moment were on opposite ends of the spectrum from each other. Anyway, last night was the conclusion of season 2, and I cried at least 4 times during the episode, and then once at the end when I realized that it would be months, if not nearly a year before season three returns to PBS. Watch it, you’ll be glad you did.

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