So… I finally got around to watching Downton Abbey. I know, I know, I’m a bit late into the game, but let’s face it, I don’t think I’ll ever be “on time” with TV show trends. I seemed to have lost the punctuality knack once I outgrew Hey Arnold! and Clarissa Explains It All. And with Downton, the dragging of the feet was deliberate. I’m not the biggest fan of drama series. The scandals, the intrigue, the endless misunderstandings and stirring up of drama for the sake of viewership… they frustrate me more than they entertain, even when the words “British” and “period drama” are involved. But in the end, like the proverbially ill-fated cat, curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see what all the hullabaloo was about. Which is why, after holding out for so long, I caved in and sat down to the first season one lethargic Saturday evening.
It’s been a few weeks now, and I’ve since finished the first season. My verdict? Pas mal. Which I’m rather surprised by, given the show’s reputation of being practically crack-laced, it’s that addicting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a truly excellent production. The costumes, for one, are exquisite. I was never a particular fan of Edwardian fashion, but I think I’ve been converted after seeing some jaw-droppingly gorgeous gowns à la Mary and Lady Grantham. AND THE HATS GIVE ME ALL THE HATS. And then there’s the score, which is beautiful. The casting is perfection. (I don’t think anyone else could have done the Dowager Countess justice like Maggie Smith.) And the characters—oh, the characters! I love them all, even the baddies who stress me out with their endless scheming. They’re so well-developed, with distinct personalities and realistic flaws.
So why my lukewarm reaction? I’m still trying to figure that out. Part of it is the drama, I suppose. It’s frustrating, not to mention stressful!
Especially now that I’ve gone and spoiled all the major story arcs for myself, and know what tragedies are to come in the next two seasons, ugh. My heart feels gutted right now. There’s also the sheer popularity of the series, which, I’ve discovered, actually rather irks me. (Hipster moment, for reals.) And is it just me, or is the show moving REALLY fast, pace-wise? Season 1 by itself covers the length of two years. Wish they would slow it down.
But the show does have its merits, and at this point I think I’ve become enough attached to the characters emotionally to want to see their stories through to the end. I will say, though, that thanks to spoilers I’m now reluctant to watch the new seasons. [Two major character deaths, and a jilted bride.] WHY WRITERS WHY I DON’T THINK MY HEART CAN TAKE IT. But I’m sure that once I start watching Season 2, I’ll be fine. Mustn’t be defeatist, after all.