Monday, March 7, 2016

Downton Withdrawal

It seemed to have everything:
The intriguing stratification of classes, with the lavish lifestyle and every whim of those upstairs tended to by the devotion to detail and long hours of toil expended by those downstairs;

The sweep of history, from the Titanic through World War I and deep into the Roaring Twenties, but almost entirely reflected in the minutiae of one household’s life rather than by the grand panoramas of battlefield and Parliament;
The arcane structure of the British aristocracy, with its titles and fox-hunts and connections to both court and agriculture;

The dazzling fashions, with appropriate attire always a matter of some urgency and its modifications indicative of changes ~ in the lives of women, in particular; and
The drama necessitated to sustain an audience: deaths of young characters, arrivals and departures of mysterious strangers, births – both upstairs and down – out of wedlock (and, finally and joyfully, a downstairs birth accomplished upstairs!), criminal violence, fractured relationships, jilted lovers and all of it, of course, captured by the acerbic wit of the Dowager Countess.

As I awoke this morning, however, with a bit of Lady Mary-like leisure available to me, my thoughts were that perhaps the great appeal of Downton lies in the tension it portrays ~ between the rigidly formal and restrained lifestyle of its inhabitants and the passionate feelings not always contained by the precision of table settings, the cold grandeur of libraries, and the stares of ancestral portraits.   In our own era of ultra-casual dress, fast food, messy homes, and politicians who shout near-obscenities at one another on national television, we might long for a bit of Downton glamour and control to rub off on us  ~ and yet perhaps we are a bit relieved to see that neither spatkling crystal nor luxury cars prevent its characters from outward explosions of emotion, wild and inappropriate passions, and deep friendship and love.

No comments:

Post a Comment