The Duties of Downton Abbey

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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6 Responses

  1. Matty says:

    having grown up in the 1950s and ’60s with a Jacobinical rage against the moth-eaten haughtiness of the toffs

    This may be the key part of Schama’s article, it isn’t really about a TV show at all. It’s about a Jewish boy from the east end of London. who went to an independent school on a scholarship and felt like an outsider. Who knows what his time at Haberdashers’ was like but whatever he disliked it seems to have cast a long shadow.Report

    • karl in reply to Matty says:

      It certainly looks that way.  But if I can come to Schama’s defense (by reading just a little between the lines), he seems to object that every aspect of those times is being sugarcoated as much as the market will bear.  I have no opinion on the matter, having seen season one — after which I had little desire to see season two.

      It might seem elitist to claim that Fellowes is no Tolstoy, so I’ll just say he’s no Charles Schultz.


  2. Nob Akimoto says:

    This was great, thanks.Report

  3. BlaiseP says:

    Though not everyone conforms to the stereotypes of his place and time within at least the first standard deviation, the bitter realities of the Great War stand in marked contrast to the Green and Pleasant Land wherein dwell these marvelous characters.

    Downton Abbey is a stagey paean to another Time Which Never Was.   Along with Schama, I’ve known toffs, both British and French and learned to hate them all. sauntering through life with the grotesqueries of the Entitled danging from their every appendage.

    Why do Americans just love this stuff?   I shall tell you plainly:   Americans really want a king.   They’ve always groveled before assorted nobility when it puts in an appearance on our shores.  They want nothing better than to obey.  It is the height of irony to see the descendants of the dispossessed, now kissing up to the descendants of those who ran off by their forebears in the Enclosures which created those lovely lawns.  Sheep were then more profitable than peasants and a nation of sheep we have become.Report

  4. sonmi451 says:

    “I do question whether it is the sole job of every single work of fiction set in that time and place to educate people as to those facts.”

    Probably depends on how well those facts are represented already in fiction. If every other show on TV represent the British aristocrats as nobler-than-thou like Lord Grantham, then yes, I think the representation in Downton Abbey would be very problematic, but I don’t really think that’s the case. To be honest, I only like it for the soap opera entertaiment value, it seems a bit churlish to look for greater truths from that kind of show.Report