Downton Abbey

Yes, I’m a Downton Abbey fan.  Of course I am.  I also liked Upstairs Downstairs, which pioneered the British period piece about early 20th century aristocrats and their servants.  This season’s finale of Downton is this week.  (Why do British series have such short seasons?  Another of my favorites, Sherlock, had just three episodes!)

There have been several commentaries on the social order chronicled here.  George Will celebrates the way the old order starts coming apart with the rise of modernity and free market capitalism.  Peter Lawler praises its conservatism.  Steven Mufson sees economic lessons for today.

But all of that is beside the point.  Downton is just really good television, with an absorbing story, captivating characters, splendid staging, and lush photography.  I think a big part of its appeal is its “otherness.”  It evokes the texture and feel of another time and another place, giving us viewers a sense of history, a taste from a completely different kind of society than our own.

Are any of you Downton Abbey fans?  What is it you like so much?  Why do you think the show has become so popular, despite its lack of explosions and other hallmarks of our current entertainment industry?

What about the story and its multiple threads?  This season seems to have less of a driving narrative arc than the others.  What do you think is going to happen now?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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