?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Downton Abbey - The Ex-Communicator

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile

November 10th, 2010


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
07:06 am - Downton Abbey
Has anybody watched (ITV historical drama) Downton Abbey? I saw some of the episodes. I don't think it bore much relation to what actually happened in Edwardian times. It was more like one of those documentaries where modern people play at living in the past. But I thought it was very interesting how it pandered to the needs of the present.

I think TV shows and films remind you more of the time they were made than the time they were set. Bonnie and Clyde is very 1970s, High Noon is very 1950s and so on. Downton Abbey is very 2010. It's Daily Mail 2010. Daily Mail readers aren't monsters - though we pretend they are sometimes (I do anyway). They are aware, perhaps in an unexamined way, of bad things which happen in our society, but they desperately want them to be addressed without challenging established power structures. Sometimes that makes them cruel.

In Downton Abbey there's a similar uneasiness about oppression, but (as in some wet dream of a Mail reader) oppression is comfortingly addressed item by item, by the beneficence of those above, condescending to those below. I feel it's Valium for the modern worried, who need to feel that the ruling classes have it all in hand.

Also, there was a letter in the Guardian today noting that religion was entirely absent from the series. No worship, no senior clergy, no piety. This is not a series in any way about our past, it's about massaging the anxieties of the present.

People have said they saw double yellow lines on the road, and telephone wires. I didn't notice them, but I often miss stuff like that. That kind of thing doesn't bother me.

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:zornhau
Date:November 10th, 2010 09:59 am (UTC)
(Link)
I had a similar response the the BBC retread of 39 Steps: http://zornhau.livejournal.com/158999.html
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:November 10th, 2010 10:25 am (UTC)
(Link)
Although it's another issue I particularly liked this other point you made - wanted to quote for benefit of other lj people.

I've noticed that stories become Drama Driven most often when the writers have wandered into a genre with which they are not really familiar. Like the bewildered cargo cult islanders creating bamboo radio masts and wooden plains to summon back the good-laden Dakotas, the poor writers assemble elements they think look the part.


I have thought this before but not been able to frame it in those words.
[User Picture]
From:zornhau
Date:November 10th, 2010 10:32 am (UTC)
(Link)
:)
[User Picture]
From:tehomet
Date:November 10th, 2010 10:19 am (UTC)
(Link)
I haven't seen it, but was going to see it on DVD. Having read this, now I'm not sure I want to see it. :D
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:November 10th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
(Link)
It's a deliberately right wing series - Julian Fellowes has complained that he is being criticised by lefties, but as far as I can tell the angriest criticism is from the Daily Telegraph who think he is vulgarising.

Other than that, it's a fairly engaging soap opera in dress-up. I watched it some Sunday evenings when I had ironing to do. Soothing.
[User Picture]
From:tehomet
Date:November 10th, 2010 10:33 am (UTC)
(Link)
Mmm. The right wing aspect doesn't appeal, but on the other hand, there's Maggie Smith.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:November 10th, 2010 10:56 am (UTC)
(Link)
Oh yeah, I should have mentioned her. Fantastic of course.
[User Picture]
From:gfk88
Date:November 10th, 2010 11:19 am (UTC)
(Link)
I loved it. Great Sunday evening escapism. More or less everyone was a goodie apart from the obvious couple of pantomime villains.

Obviously it would be a serious mistake to assume that it in any way reflects what life was actually like in Edwardian times (oh, and btw, why do we say 1914 is in Edwardian times when Edward VII died in, what, 1910?)


[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:November 10th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
(Link)
My vanity makes me assure you I did know 'Edwardian' was a misnomer, but it seemed the right term. It has that connotation of the long doomed summer.
[User Picture]
From:steepholm
Date:November 10th, 2010 11:50 am (UTC)
(Link)
Certainly, 'Georgian' would give quite a misleading impression.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:November 10th, 2010 11:57 am (UTC)
(Link)
I think everyone just says Edwardian don't they - as gfk88 says.
[User Picture]
From:steepholm
Date:November 10th, 2010 12:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Reminds me of that Sellars and Yeatman line about Walter Ralegh being executed 'for being left over from the previous reign' (quote inexact). If only monarchs could time their demises more conveniently!
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:November 10th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
(Link)
A formative experience for me was going to an exhibit of costumes from Hollywood "historical" movies--Claudette Colbert as flapper Cleopatra, and Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca in a Maidenform bra.

However, as for Religion, None of, I'm always struck by how seldom any even vaguely religious emotion appears in a Dickens novel, and while a lot of Trollope characters are clergymen, it's only because they didn't have the option of working for Internet companies they didn't believe in *either.*

BTW, I've just read that "trollopise" (but referring to Fanny and not Anthony) was an accepted term for "to insult Americans."
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:November 10th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hairdos always seem the least historical aspect of costume. Long hair on men in Westerns wasn't featured until... what was it, as late as the nineties? The Sundance Kid had a Beatles-style moptop I think.

Do you think women writers of the 19th c talked more about religion?
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:November 10th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Certainly, there were women writers who wrote specifically to evangelize, or from an evangelical viewpoint. I'm not sure that the average Mudie's novel had *any* serious content religious or otherwise, though.
[User Picture]
From:valderys
Date:November 10th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh god, I wish I didn't know that. I hadn't even really noticed the right-winged-ness. I don't want to be enjoying the same things as Daily Mail readers, but it's inevitable I suppose. Costume dramas are my opium...
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:November 11th, 2010 07:47 am (UTC)
(Link)
Did you feel sorry for the (supposedly) 'unattractive' daughter? I thought her story was very sad.
[User Picture]
From:valderys
Date:November 12th, 2010 09:58 am (UTC)
(Link)
I did too - but the ugly duckling middle child is quite a common story-telling trope. I thought that Mary brought a lot of things on herself and she was terribly hard on Edith, but I also thought Edith's revenge was out of all proportion. That kind of scandal should never leave the family, if you can help it, and Edith should have remembered that. Edith should have confined her revenge to something smaller and within the family, like ruining a dress on the night of a party or something, so her come-uppance with regard to her own suiter, was sad, but also less out of proportion than her own actions.

On the other hand, Mary shouldn't have let revenge rule her actions either - although it's a toss up in this case. Now she has an even more resentful Edith still in the house, looking for even greater revenge, which can't end well, but the alternative was a happily settled Edith potentially lording it over her, and with more influence because she was married. Not a good choice, either way.

I want Edith to write to her suiter and explain that she has a spiteful sister, and if there was anything that was potentially said, then it was probably a lie. But that might not help, but I really want her to try!
[User Picture]
From:pennski
Date:November 11th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I am thoroughly enjoying it but I am uncomfortably aware that the only gay character is evil and that the household is depicted as living under a benevolent patriarch.

Did you see the lovely side bar article in the Radio Times a couple of weeks ago imagining what would happen if the series went on for long enough? The Daily Mail readers would have had plenty to rant about then! (land sold off for council houses etc).
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:November 11th, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, is he the gay one from the first episode? I missed a few and forgot which footman was which. Perhaps he'll redeem himself in season 2. I bet he does, as a medic.

No, I didn't see that. It could end up being the haunted house in The Little Stranger.
[User Picture]
From:pennski
Date:November 14th, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yes - I found myself thinking that too!
*Shudders*.

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com