Up or Down?

Downton Abbey characters

I’ve been blogging a lot with regard to Asian gendercide. For today, a break!  A Downton Abbey break.

What is a Downton Abbey? Surely you jest.

For the PBS-deprived, “Downton Abbey” is the eponymous title of a delicious production in the grand manner of historically accurate corsets and carriages — which the Brits do so well — set just before and during the First World War, which for Britain began in 1914. (“Abbey” has, however, been criticized as to the characters’ manner of speaking – one viewer complained that no one “sings” their lines as upper-class Britons used to, but instead delivers them in the currently popular flat Estuary monotone.)

It’s “Upstairs, Downstairs” in a stately home, and examines the lives of roughly the same proportion of wealthy and poor characters. With a few twists, since “Abbey” comes from the pen of Julian Fellowes of “Gosford Park” fame, who is himself married to a woman who would inherit an earldom if only the UK straightened out that pesky male primogeniture thing.

There’s the Downton family: parents, three marriageable daughters, steely and scathing gran (the marvelous Maggie Smith). The staff of at least a dozen (counting the gardeners and stablehands, whom we rarely see). And the interloper, a very presentable and utterly middle-class bloke who has the misfortune to be a mere lawyer – and who, because Downton lacks a male heir, will himself inherit (male primogeniture bites). He still lives with his mum, who’s no shrinking violet.

Will the heir marry one of Downton’s daughters? Haven’t we seen this plot point before? Say, in Pride and Prejudice? There, Mr. Collins, rightly rejected by Elizabeth Bennet, sought solace in the bosom of her best friend, Charlotte Lucas, and Elizabeth, as we know, ended up with the fabulously superior Fitzwilliam Darcy. In “Downton Abbey”, the presumed heir isn’t heading toward a best friend. But nor is he convinced that Downton needs a resident who actually grew up there.

Anyway, it’s great fun, despite the presence of the occasional television aerial (ouch!) and the aforementioned monotones. And there’s a quiz! Discover who you would be if Downton really existed. Would you be upstairs or downstairs? Or somewhere in the middle – on a landing, perhaps.

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Filed under Downton Abbey, England, Family, Julian Fellowes, Law, Television, UK

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