Until 4 days ago I had actually heard very little about Downton Abbey. I knew it was a Masterpiece Classic show about a rich family and their servants, set in WWI-era England. I knew it was supposed to be sort of a soap-opera. I knew it was stealing Emmy nominations from shows I actually watch and like. I knew that it seemed incredibly and inexplicably popular. So maybe I knew more than I thought. Though I was somewhat reluctant to put it on my “to watch” list, as the following/fandom it had reminded me too much of a show I will probably never go back to (Glee), I decided I would be open to giving it a try eventually, if only because it was easily accessible on Netflix.
Well, in the post-holiday hangover of January 3-5, my wife Beth and I plowed through the first 12 episodes of the show like Edith behind the wheel of a tractor. We haven’t watched any episodes today, and we’re still 3 episodes and a Christmas Special away from being caught up (to US airings, anyway), but I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re up to date by this time tomorrow. With season 3 (series 3, if you want to be a nerd about it) premiering tonight, I figured it was a good time to share some of my thoughts on the show.
The show is ridiculously watchable. RIDICULOUSLY. There are very few 1-hour shows of which I could watch 4+ episodes in row without getting tired or just needing a break. This has proven to be one of them. I think the aforementioned soap-opera quality has something to do with it. Half of these characters are in some form of unrequited, unspoken, forbidden or unfulfilled love. The others are either scheming, providing laughs or just being excruciatingly upper-class. The upstairs/downstairs dynamic, combined with the period setting make this a fascinating look at a place, a time, and a type of people that don’t exist anymore, at least in the way portrayed on the show.