Yes, love it. Adore the elegant costumes and ambiance, but also like the characters. I wonder if Julian Fellowes has created a higher proportion of good characters than inhabit real life?
The theme evolves. Series One is all Love, Sex and Marriage—Who will Lady Mary Marry? This morphs after a fatal indiscretion into Who will Marry Lady Mary?
Series Two is about work. Having something useful to do brings out the best in the characters; they are at their happiest when terribly useful.
Series Three is about power. Lord Grantham who is noble, good and decent, though lacking in high intelligence or business acumen, struggles to retain power and control in a rapidly morphing world.
He loses his wife’s fortune: invests all his money in a single venture, against his advisor’s advice; it fails. So he almost loses Downton Abbey, to be rescued by his son-in-law Matthew’s fortune. But he ignores Matthew’s qualms about his money-losing mismanagement, and continues hiring against Matthew’s misgivings—fourteen staff for a family of five, ridiculous!!
“I am the master here,” he says, refusing to listen to the worries of his wife, mother, son-in-law or the local doctor during his daughter Sybil’s obvious distress in childbirth, considering, instead, the feelings of the pompous Harley Street physician he brought in. Cora, naturally, finds it hard to forgive this display of naked power in a life and death moment. So do we.
Looking forward, Branson the chauffeur, will certainly challenge Lord Grantham’s authority. Why, Grantham represents everything Branson despises.
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So many good characters. Cora, though passive and, sometimes, petulant, is basically a good, decent woman, considerate, kind and respectful to her staff. Generally relaxed and easy-going, she can be formidable when her eyes flash fire.
Matthew is probably the noblest, most straight-forward character, as is Sybil; neither are presented in shades of grey.
Lady Mary, perhaps unfairly, is everyone’s favourite—upstairs and downstairs–as much for her beauty, elegance and birth order, as for her character, likeable and plainspoken. She’s kind and thoughtful to the staff, as most of the family are, though Edith barely relates to them. Perhaps, the staff, acutely aware to the pecking order upstairs, divine that Edith is no one’s favourite, and she senses this.
Born without the ethereal beauty and charm of her sisters, and conscious of this, Edith, can be spiteful and catty, though the ugly ducking is going to evolve into a feminist or a gifted blue-stocking, I suspect.
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The staff downstairs are basically good characters. Carson is utterly devoted to his employers, and his duty, an adorable, somewhat pompous teddy-bear, while Mrs Hughes is lovely, another character who is all white, with no gray, as is sweet Anna.
Thomas–the outsider, homosexual in the era of sodomy laws–is conniving and unscrupulous, out for himself, though devoted to those who are kind to him. The put-upon kitchen maid, Daisy, surprisingly turns quite vicious once she gets an underling. And there is a usual futile merry-go-round-—William loves Daisy who fancies Thomas. Daisy fancies Alfred, who fancies Ivy, who fancies Jimmy, who Thomas also fancies!
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Yeah, I guess that’s why I love Downton Abbey—the likeable characters, and the elegiac, elegant portrayal of a vanished era. The acting—the characters thoroughly inhabit their roles. The plot shimmers and twists and turns. And Lady Violet’s one-liners are delightful.
It is totally charming. Downton Abbey, the secret addiction of a nation, upstairs and downstairs and in our smitten chambers!