Author Topic: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon  (Read 1084 times)

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Online mystery-ak

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The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« on: February 22, 2013, 02:56:02 PM »
http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2013/02/22/The-Downton-Abbey-phenomenon

The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
by John Hayward 22 Feb 2013, 11:01 AM PDT

I overheard Rush blurting out some big "Downton Abbey" spoilers on the air today.  I'm not sure if the Spoiler Statute of Limitations has expired yet, as it hasn't been a full week since the finale for American viewers.  I have never made so much as a Twitter reference to a plot twist from a TV show less than one month old without someone angrily shouting "SPOILERS!"  I guess that's a consequence of the VCR-DVR-Video On Demand era.  In the old days, pretty much everyone who was going to see Sunday night's season finale of a TV show saw it on Sunday night

I once joked that Jonah Goldberg of National Review and I were going to become the founders, and pretty much sole members, of the conservative "Downton Abbey" fan club, but boy were we wrong.  Fellow righties came flying in from all around to declare they were fans of the show too, and not just because their Significant Others made them watch it.  I detected a bit of that girlfriend-loves-this-show sheepishness at first, but it's now completely evaporated.

So what's the deal with "Downton Abbey?"  Why the particular embrace from American conservatives?  Of course it has the obvious non-partisan virtues: stellar cast, fantastic production values.  But plenty of people who wouldn't be caught dead watching any other soap opera, no matter how well-produced, love this one.

It's easy to cite the power of nostalgia, the window it offers into a bygone era, which is also a strong component of another big hit, "Mad Men."  It's fascinating to think these entirely alien worlds existed only 50 and 100 years ago - and the world of "Downton" would have seemed exotic to the British characters on "Mad Men" (poor Lane Pryce!) even though they were, in essence, the children and grandchildren of the World War I generation.  Technology drives social change, and both happened so incredibly quickly in the Twentieth Century.

But if I had to put my finger on the appeal of "Downton Abbey" to conservative fans, it's the strong themes of obligation and responsibility that run through the show.  The aristocrats speak often of their duty to King, country, and the people of their county.  The servants address their duties, both to the manor and each other, with the utmost gravity.  Nobody whines.  Not even when they're fighting through the hell of trench warfare.

Also, one of the first big takeaways a new "Downton" viewer comes away with is that the servants have a structure as strong and aristocratic as the lords and ladies of the manor; the formidable butler is a mirror image of the Earl, and actually spends more time giving people orders.  It's interesting to note how those structures repeat themselves across history.  Today the world's great egalitarian Republic finds itself with an aristocracy, a ruling class, every bit as entrenched and privileged as dear old Robert and his tragically death-prone family.

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2013, 03:55:36 PM »
Quote
So what's the deal with "Downton Abbey?"  Why the particular embrace from American conservatives?
Don't know. Never watched it. Don't plan to.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

Offline massadvj

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2013, 05:13:43 PM »
Don't know. Never watched it. Don't plan to.

It's very "soapy" but i like it nonetheless.  I think this is the essence of it:

But if I had to put my finger on the appeal of "Downton Abbey" to conservative fans, it's the strong themes of obligation and responsibility that run through the show.  The aristocrats speak often of their duty to King, country, and the people of their county.  The servants address their duties, both to the manor and each other, with the utmost gravity.

When I watch Downton Abbey I get a strong sense of just how much cultural decay there has been in the last 100 years.  Liberals hate this show, which is all the more reason to watch it.
"She only coughs when she lies."

Online mystery-ak

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2013, 05:24:51 PM »
Well I love it and I am sorry season 3 is already over and I now have to wait until Jan 2014 for season 4.... 8888crybaby

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2013, 05:33:53 PM »
The only drama we watch with any consistency is "Person of Interest," about the government surveillance system that has everyone in its sights.  I just wonder how much of it is fiction.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2013, 05:34:32 PM »
The only drama we watch with any consistency is "Person of Interest," about the government surveillance system that has everyone in its sights.  I just wonder how much of it is fiction.

I love Person of Interest.

Offline Cincinnatus

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2013, 05:57:04 PM »
Mark me down as one of those Conservative males who enjoys Downton Abbey.

I have never analyzed why but upon reflection it has to do with production quality, that it is driven by character development, the lack of violence and obscenities (I'm no prude, it just grows tiresome to hear the lead characters use the F word in every other sentence), and the fact I am a bit of an Anglophile. Lord, how I wish I could talk like that. Not the accent, but the way Brits express themselves. They can insult you 3 ways to Sunday and you would never know it.

However, I was much disappointed with it last week. I mean the final scene (I will say no more as I don't ruin it for anyone). I just felt that was more than a bit manipulative and I didn't like it.

Oh, well, jolly good, carry on.
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Offline Lipstick on a Hillary

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2013, 09:28:12 AM »
The reason the scriptwriters "did" what you don't like is because the actor was leaving the show to pursue other interests.  They had no choice.  (This episode is being rerun tomorrow evening by the way).

I disagree with Vic's assessment though that liberals hate the show.  I haven't seen any evidence of that, but I could be wrong.  The first time I ever even heard of the show, it was through a Cher twitter and she was raving about it--this was a year or two ago.

What amazes me is about how the distinct class structure is depicted in the show: it seems like the "downstairs crowd" is more protective of keeping it in place than the "upstairs crowd" is--well maybe with the exception of Maggie Smith's character.   :laugh:

BUT, the show illustrates very well the European class structure that's been in place for centuries, and the motivation of Europeans to escape it to come to America, because it looked as though it was nearly impossible to change your lot in life if you remained in Europe.  (Unless you were a handsome chauffer who fell in love with the Earl's daughter.)

 You would THINK that any thinking liberal would come to appreciate that about America, but instead they are working to tear down America's ability to provide opportunity, and replace it with another class structure here-a  liberal elite class, and then everyone else.  If there is a show anywhere that illustrates REAL class distinction as opposed to what we see in American culture-it is Downton Abbey.  Maybe it can be an eye-opener to those liberals who are still able to think at least somewhat critically?  :shrug:

Offline massadvj

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« Last Edit: February 23, 2013, 10:22:05 AM by massadvj »
"She only coughs when she lies."

Offline Lipstick on a Hillary

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2013, 10:36:30 AM »
Thank you for the links-I stand corrected.  :nometalk:

From the second link: "Having watched all three seasons, I think one of the reasons the Left hates Downton Abbey so much is that it undermines their narrative about class warfare."

Exactly!  Exactly what I was trying to say above. 

 888catbed

Offline massadvj

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2013, 10:41:12 AM »
Thank you for the links-I stand corrected.  :nometalk:

From the second link: "Having watched all three seasons, I think one of the reasons the Left hates Downton Abbey so much is that it undermines their narrative about class warfare."

Exactly!  Exactly what I was trying to say above. 

 888catbed

Lips, I so rarely get the opportunity to correct anything you say or do, I couldn't help but take advantage.
"She only coughs when she lies."

Offline Lipstick on a Hillary

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Re: The "Downton Abbey" phenomenon
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2013, 10:43:42 AM »
 :kisses2:


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