Note: This post contains spoilers for Season 3 of Downton Abbey.
If you’ve been following television recently, then you’ve likely heard of Downton Abbey, a program that has gripped millions in it’s clutches for two years with the relationships and rushed nature of the Crawley family and their servants. This story has much to it that’s worth viewing — e.g., great story-telling, fantastic historical authenticity — but what does it have to say about God? That’s the question writer Todd Dorman asks about the show in a recent Christianity Today piece.
The show’s writer and primary creative force, Julian Fellowes, is a practicing Catholic.
The show is set in an old abbey. The family who own Downton, especially the older generations who have the most to lose by losing the house, are obsessed not only with the house itself, but also with its history.
Also they employ a vicar.
So how is it that God is a peripheral presence at best?
In a show focused in a religious setting, there is little religious behavior to view. Dorman finds this funny for a show such as Downton:
[I]t remains striking how much divine trapping there is in Downton Abbey, for what little role explicit faith plays in its characters’ lives. There are numerous fascinating blog posts, including this one, that search for implicit Catholic and Christian themes in the show — good and evil, suffering for cause, various types and grades of love and devotion. At some point, though, especially with a vicar in the family’s employ, it seems odd for such connections to remain unnamed, unspoken, and, for all we can see, unperceived.
This phenomenon is odd for the story. Dorman does hope for more religious themes in the upcoming season. But we’ll have to see. If rumors for the third season are true, then we should see some deaths and funerals approaching our heroes.
But only time will tell as to what the Crawley family will go through, and how their faith (or possibly lack thereof) will play in their lives.