Blogging the Abbey Episode 2

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Rose Woodhouse

Elizabeth Picciuto was born and reared on Long Island, and, as was the custom for the time and place, got a PhD in philosophy. She freelances, mainly about disability, but once in a while about yeti. Mother to three children, one of whom is disabled, two of whom have brown eyes, three of whom are reasonable cute, you do not want to get her started talking about gardening.

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  1. Avatar Maribou
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    says:

    Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey Downton Abbey (Forgive the forgoing…edited for spoiler-blocking purposes).

    Most of the brouhaha I have seen has been mostly upset by the “Anna got horribly raped! And now, let us make a funny about a lighthearted subject.” approach to things. For example, at http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2013/10/why_downtown_abbey, Annie Moran writes:

    “Considering the majority of Downton Abbey’s viewers are women, and considering 1 in 4 women will be the victim of gender-based violence in their lifetimes, I wonder how many others were left feeling the same way as me last night.

    So writers, listen up: rape is not a plot device to make female characters more interesting. It is not trivial. If your show is about things that are trivial, on the whole, then a plot line about rape is not appropriate. If you do write for a TV show that aims to portray real life and are going to include rape as a plot device, remember there are as many ways that survivors deal with rape as there are people raped.”

    Now, I do find it somewhat baffling insofar as Downton does have so many other horrible things happen to people, so why is this different? But, if I stop asking my head and start asking my gut, my gut agrees, it is different. Much like people get knocked off in cosy mysteries all the time – but that over-the-top “cosy” violence is different from realistic violence that might really happen to someone, and (relatively) often does. On my college campus, for example, homicides are virtually unheard of, but violent rapes are *reported* almost every year (who knows if there are other unreported ones). It seems that the presentation of Anna’s rape is both too real (for such an escapist show), and not real enough (because of its juxtaposition with utter trivialities).Report

    • Avatar Maribou in reply to Maribou
      Ignored
      says:

      YARGH. Someone please fix my comment so the honking spoiler doesn’t show up in the “Gift of Gab” section? many apologies.Report

    • Avatar Rose Woodhouse in reply to Maribou
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      says:

      I write about this in my real-life philosophical work, i.e., the nature of our emotional responses to fictions. We can read about a death in an Agatha Christie work, and it would actually be weird to grieve for the corpse.

      I think a lot of things can determine our emotional response, and you definitely hit on one of them, that is, our own experiences with such matters. Other possible determining factors: the genre, the attitude of the author to the depicted events (a rape depicted with approval is very different from a rape depicted with disapproval), the tone of the fiction (satire or nostalgia or slapstick comedy). And others.Report

  2. Avatar daveNYC
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    says:

    The show is much better when it’s about the entire estate (including both upstairs and downstairs groups) dealing with a large estate or society scale crisis.

    Season 1: New heir coming in from the working class, class conflicts and new faces. Huzzah!
    Season 2: WWI, Mathew is broken, decides to marry a non-Mary, thus making the Crawley’s homeless or something.
    Season 3: The estate is broke, but that’s solved in like two episodes, and the rest is some crap about crop rotation and Matthew marrying Mary.
    Season 4: Matthew is dead, but who cares since the estate already has an heir by him. So we’re stuck with Molesley’s employment issues and this pretty WTF storyline with Anna. Oh, and for some reason Thomas is back to being a complete and utter dick for no good reason, and they decided to replace O’Brian’s spiteful two-dimensional character with a slightly younger spiteful two-dimensional character.

    First two seasons were solid, the third was more boring romantic filler, and the fourth is looking to suck. Hopefully season five will get up to the Great Depression, because that’s where the show does well, not in these low rent soap opera type plots.Report

    • Avatar Rose Woodhouse in reply to daveNYC
      Ignored
      says:

      Season 1: New heir coming in from the working class, class conflicts and new faces. Huzzah!
      Season 2: WWI, Mathew is broken, decides to marry a non-Mary, thus making the Crawley’s homeless or something.
      Season 3: The estate is broke, but that’s solved in like two episodes, and the rest is some crap about crop rotation and Matthew marrying Mary.
      Season 4: Matthew is dead, but who cares since the estate already has an heir by him. So we’re stuck with Molesley’s employment issues and this pretty WTF storyline with Anna. Oh, and for some reason Thomas is back to being a complete and utter dick for no good reason, and they decided to replace O’Brian’s spiteful two-dimensional character with a slightly younger spiteful two-dimensional character.

      I find this summing up totally hilarious.Report

  3. Avatar bookdragon
    Ignored
    says:

    A bit late seeing this, but I wanted to point out that given the time period Anna not telling anyone about the rape is perfectly plausible. In that era it was the rape victim who was blamed and even when not blamed, irrevocably shamed. Anna is the one who would be seen as ‘dirty’ or degraded for having been raped and there is every chance that she would be dismissed as a lady’s maid as such a ‘taint’ would make her unsuitable for such close contact with a Lady.

    The plot complication I see coming is that her rapist’s employer is looking to be one of Mary’s new beaus, and therefore will be at the manor repeatedly in the future. How will Anna deal with that, especially if the SOB uses the societal assumptions I mention above to think he can continue?Report

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