This show was just plain great. I would have watched all the episodes back to back if I could have. However, my friend had made me promise not to watch a single episode without him, and so I had to be held in suspense for days on end. But anyway, I highly recommend this show. What show, you may ask? Downton Abbey.
Downton Abbey is a historical British drama that takes place in the 1910’s and 1920’s, starting with the sinking of the Titantic. It centers around the Crawley family who are high in the social ladder and their various servants (people tell me it’s something like Upstairs, Downstairs) who all live in a manor home called, well, Downton Abbey.
The heir of Downton Abbey is killed on the Titanic, throwing the manor’s residents into dignified chaos about who the next heir will be. It turns out to be a distant cousin who’s a poor lawyer towns over, named Matthew. He has a distinct moral compass that few others have, and high respect for the working class because he was one of them himself for years. However, when he first arrived at Downton he made a remark to his mother about how they were bound to throw one of the girls at him because he was a bachelor and Mary overheard, which you know can’t be good.
Mary, the oldest daughter, does not like this development. She is the oldest, after all, and if there wasn’t that pesky law that said women couldn’t inherit property Downton would be hers. She believes that she has a right to Downton. Her parents tell her to marry Matthew, so that she can have Downton along with him, but she declares that she will never marry someone who she is told to, and definitely not a country lawyer who can barely hold his utensils properly, for goodness’ sake!
Edith, the middle daughter, is afraid she will never marry. She had been in love with the heir who died on the Titanic, but he had been set to marry Mary anyway, so that caused resentment between the two. She strongly dislikes Mary, and Mary naturally hates her back, so they try to sabotage each other throughout everything.
Sybil, the youngest daughter, doesn’t let herself waste time worrying about such trivial matters as marriage and childish rivalries. She thinks about actually important issues, such as women’s rights and other political change happening. She gets the chauffeur Branson to drive her to various rallies, and talks to him about the government and where it’s headed. He himself is an Irish socialist, and soon doesn’t bother to hide from Sybil his dislike of the aristocracy, which her family is a part of. But Sybil admires his bravery in speaking out, and so they become open with each other and feel free to discuss many different pressing issues of the day.
Carson is the head of the staff. He’s always been there, ever since the daughters were children, and feels as if they are his own family. Because of this, he is fiercely protective of them, especially Mary, and does all he can to stop scandal from taking place and shaming the household.
Thomas is who I call the “bad butler”. He is manipulative, selfish, and always trying to cause trouble. William is who I call the “good butler”. He is homesick for his family, has a crush on the kitchen maid Daisy, and tries not to let Thomas’ actions get to him so much. There is also Anna, who is sympathetic and a good listener; O’Brien, Thomas’ partner-in-crime, if you will; Bates, the new servant on the block with a questionable past; Mrs. Patmore, the sassy cook; Mrs. Hughes, who has the household always running orderly; and oh my goodness, countless others.
It’s a wonderful show and I’m glad I chanced across it. The political and social satire and intrigue will make you never dare to miss an episode and the significance of the events going on during the time period that are mentioned make history buffs of anyone who watches. So there. Watch.