Lessons From Downton Abbey+comment
Megan and I are lifelong, diehard PBS and Masterpiece theatre dorks, so we’ve been all aboard the Downton Abbey train from day one. In the very first week of this blog, we were telling readers to check out the latest BBC show. In Megan’s words, “I can’t help wanting to get a touch of consumption and sit on a chaise lounge with a blanket over my lap starring off into the distance, or to stand in a room with no indoor plumbing while across the village a swarthy gentleman chastises his servant with “No, no. The green one.”
Even when Season 2 of Downton Abbey kind of jumped the shark (the paraplegic cure, Lavinia’s end, the creepy/burned faced possible cousin, or Lord Grantham’s random crush), we stood by it. By as we all get ready for Sunday night’s US premiere of Season 3, let’s look at some life lessons we can glean from Downton Abbey. Set those DVRs and enjoy!
How many other shows have not one, but now two Academy Award-winning actresses well into their 70’s, with juicy, strong roles? None. I don’t think there isn’t a woman out there that doesn’t have a slight Maggie Smith crush. Okay, maybe one but they should. Maggie Smith is amazing as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham. She is snobby and entitled and asks “what is a weekend” (which should be nominated for best line of the season), but you’ve got to love her. First, who doesn’t want a title like that? It sounds incredibly intimidating. She is hilarious, cutting, strong, opinionated and all kinds of awesome. Not to mention that in Season 3, Shirley Maclaine is joining the cast as Cora’s mother (Elizabeth McGovern). That means dueling grandmothers! Audiences are excited to watch some fierce, opinionated grandmother’s, and I can’t wait.
One of the best storylines in this series has been the ups and downs of Lady Mary Crawley and distant cousin Matthew Crawley. Quick recap, Lady Mary is the eldest daughter and was prepared to marry her cousin to keep Downton and the family fortune secure until said cousin died in the Titanic and new, distant, and much less wealthy cousin (Matthew Crawley) was set to inherit all of Downton. While today it is creepy to think of marrying your cousin, this was totally acceptable in the 1920’s and within the British aristocracy. Either way, Lady Mary was totally skeptical and annoyed that her parents wanted her to marry Matthew – low and behold, they were right. Although getting these two together has been difficult, sometimes parents do know best (once you get over that cousin-marrying part).
Downton wouldn’t run without the staff. The British aristocracy can’t seem to dress themselves without multiple ladies in waiting. From moving the body of a dead lover, to causing a miscarriage, the servants of Downton can make life easier, or completely f*** things up. Either way, we’d recommend you never cross O’Brien.
4. It’s Best to Keep Your Sisters on Your Side
They may be ladies, but they are not afraid to play dirty. Of the three Crawley sisters (Mary, Sybil and Edith), Mary is the oldest and most eligible bachelorette. However, watching Mary and Edith (the second and less attractive sister) fight teaches you that crossing someone who lives with you and knows your every move is probably not the best idea. These two aren’t afraid to ruin each other’s lives. Afraid of losing a good man’s marriage proposal, or losing your reputation, or ruining the family name – then do not cross Mary or Edith. Their ruthless behavior may explain youngest sister Sybil’s dedication to service, and why she was completely unafraid to run off or be poor.
Until Sunday night, enjoy a preview!