By now it seems to be a given that ‘Downton Abbey’ has spiralled wildly downhill since season one. Well, unless you are on the judging panel for the Primetime Emmy Awards… hmmm. Anyhow, if you’re somehow out of the loop, or just have not noticed the series’ decline in quality, just watch David Mitchell doing what he does best; moaning about all of the flaws.
The series has indeed been reduced to actors “just saying lies in hats”, however I don’t think that’s necessarily the worst thing to ever happen to a TV show. The first series wasn’t exactly perfection televised. While it was vastly superior to what came afterwards, it wasn’t a ground-breaking televisual experience that changed the way I looked at the British upper crust of the early 20th Century forever and always. No, it was more like a bit of a laugh; a fetishized, glorification of a time that once was, and that was fine. The fact that it got so outrageous in season two could perhaps convey the fact that the series has some level of self-awareness, or maybe the complete opposite. Either way, I’m not exactly complaining. I did not lament for long about the show’s loss of accuracy and realism. Nay, I was too busy relishing in the unlikely romance between Sybil and the dubious Irish revolutionary who was, for some reason, absolutely fine in finding employment with a family whose values went against everything he stood for. I was too busy basking in the ridiculousness of the long lost cousin Patrick somehow turning up bandaged the frig with an unlikely Canadian accent yelling “GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY DOWNTON I LOVE YOU EDITH”, before disappearing never to be seen or heard from again. So too was I busy waiting for the wretched Lavinia to just get out of the picture so that Matthew and Lady Mary could FINALLY get it on. The show has basically been reduced to a soap opera, and I take no issue with such a development. Not when it incites such laughter and glee!
Season three has calmed down a bit in any case. This time around – after rushing through the best part of five years in Season two – the viewer can relax regarding the time frame of any given episode, and will not have to question why these characters never actually seem to age. So far we have returned to more trivial, yet crucial to the Crawley family type problems more in line with the conflicts presented to us in season one. And like in season one, such conflicts are wrapped up within an episode or two, because apparently Julian Fellowes isn’t a fan of giving our heroes too much trouble. God forbid they actually feel what it’s like to live outside their blissful bubble of wealth.
Finally, this brings me to Edith, the person that I initially had in mind when I began this blog post of inane babble. She is shaping up to be the
new Sybil, which is lovely, as Sybil hasn’t been herself since midway through season 2, and if you have seen the episode which just aired, well, then you know that she won’t ever be herself ever again. Ooph. It’s quite a bit of an unexpected twist, and quite a pleasant one at that. Edith has spent the majority of the series being a sour-faced downer who was jealous of everyone – not least her beautiful sister Mary who was essentially getting all of the marriage proposals. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for her; she was the one who most bought into their whole way of living, the one who dreamt of marriage and being a good wife. And just when we all thought it was within her grasp, Fellowes snatched it away faster than a witty quip from Granny Crawley. Despite the fact that Edith has been wholly unlikeable for basically the entirety of ‘Downton’, you couldn’t help but feel badly for her. What is life’s beef with Edith?! The girl never catches a break. However, before we throw our hands up in despair and fling ourselves in the floor in front of Julian Fellowes screaming “WHYYY, FOR THE LOVE OF EDITH, WHY DO YOU DO THESE THINGS?!”, maybe we should take a step back and perhaps embrace how much Edith has been down on her luck. For, as the tired old saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and as of late it seems that the loveable lug is finally growing herself some manner of feminist backbone, much to the chagrin of Robert, oooer.
So, after all that, what on earth can we expect next? Will this Edith having her own newspaper column thing truly come to anything, or will it just be another hint of a storyline that ultimately goes nowhere? Exactly what is the state of Matthew’s man bits?! Will the Irish question storyline ever be handled sensitively and in a non-patronising manner?! Well how the hell should I know?! Keep watching and find out for yourself, geez.