So here we are at the last live-blog for “Downton Abbey,” Season One. You can read the snark (you know you want to!) in full over at …fly over me, evil angel….
9.16: [Sybil] A: Someone’s got something up her sleeve! M: Someone’s not going to a charity. [Lady and Maggie Smith] M: This is that scene! A: The voice cracks… [as Maggie Smith rationalizes house geography] H: It’s the delivery… M: It’s fantastic… A: I could watch that scene over and over for hours. M: She’s all about practicalities. A: Well, it’s about image, right? Whatever you do is okay so long as society doesn’t find out. M: I wonder if Grandma’s going to back Mary so much now.
9.18: [Anna and Bates, ‘I’m not sure the world is listening.’] A: Good point. [William and Daisy] A: That’s…a stunned look. M: I’m surprised people can’t read Daisy like a book!
I have to say I’m sort of … disappointed in the series as a whole, although invite me back for the visual pleasure any time! And the acting is solid-to-stunning throughout the cast. No; my disappointment comes from what they didn’t do with the script. At least in this first season. At its heart, “Downton Abbey” seems to be really invested in the Edwardian aristocrac, and portraying the intact stratified class system as ultimately a good thing. People within the story flirt with challenging it, but they’re always won over in the end to this way of life: the lord, the estate, the upstairs/downstairs social organization. None of the women seem to see how to break free of the life-paths they’ve been set. Very few servants are asking if that’s the life they want … and when they do, they’re inevitably brought back into the fold.
It’s not that I expected this film to be about socialist revolutionaries. But given that there were radicals in England at the time — often asking very trenchant questions about the “common sense” assumptions concerning class and gender — it rings a little false to have those social critiques all but absent in the world of DA. Particularly since it’s a show that keeps hammering home in the introductions that it’s all about “change.”
I’ll be interested to see what they do with Season 2.