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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why Americans Love Downton Abbey

The Masterpiece theatre series Downton Abbey is very popular. It is a show  about a landed family in England at the turn of the century. It is very well done and the plot lines are very intriguing. Still it is not that different from other dramas Masterpiece theatre has aired, but this one seems to have caught on like wildfire. Now why is that? Why do we care about an aristocratic family and their Irish servants? Could it be that we crave something about that old world so lacking from our own now?

Lets face it. American society is pretty crappy about now. We have these horrible shootings that are so heinous we cant even talk about it and yet, yet, we cant do anything about it. We have a government that is split down the middle with calls for revolution, secession, impeachment. Our television and movies export so much violence we suffer PTSD after we walk out of movie theatres. We now have armed guards at our schools and theatres. We have been in a five year recession. We yearn for a simpler world. Not only that, but a world where all is in order.

And Downton Abbey even with it's drama is all about order. The aristocracy is on top and the servants are on the bottom and every one is ok with that. For all our freedoms and our assault on classicism of any type, we have lost something in the process. We have lost any certainty our society can handle its own problems. We have lost the fait that we can provide a decent world for our kids. We are out of control and we know it now. Twenty dead children say it is so.

And so we tune into this bygone world of Lords and Ladies. Of footmen, butlers, and valets. We even envy the Irish servents who know their  place, where they will live, and where they will die. We know nothing of our future or our place in the world anymore. Is it any wonder that a world where honor and tradition are pre-emiment would appeal to us now. If only we could go back in time.

And stay there.

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Books by William Hazelgrove