Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A question for the Brit-lit-minded

You've all heard of Downton Abbey, right? Of course you have--you'd have to live under a rock not to have heard of it. All the self-proclaimed lovers of literature are watching it these days. Everywhere I turn I hear about how absolutely shocking the last episode was!

Now, I'm not much of a TV watcher myself. I prefer movies. And when I do watch TV, I like comedies, not dramas (I use it to unwind, not to wind myself up). Yet despite this, I actually have watched a bit of the first season of Downton Abbey. And you know what? It was pretty good, I'm not going to lie. I liked it.

But I didn't keep up with it, and where am I now? Well, not up to date with the last shocking episode, I can tell you that.

Here's the thing. Normally, I am not the kind of person who keeps up with all the popular shows because I prefer reading. But many of the people I know whom I consider very literary (probably more so than I am) are totally up with the times on Downton Abbey.

So I'm beginning to wonder, and I am now asking all of you: Is Downton Abbey simply fodder for the lust that many of us Brit-lit lovers have for period dramas (as I used to think it was--and, okay, still sort of do), or is it really quality television that will enrich and enlighten me? Am I writing off something that is really fantastic? Is it worth my time?


  1. I think DA is a soap opera (thinly) disguised as a period drama with a pile of really, really beautiful clothing. :) I expect that's why it's so popular--it can appeal to both audiences!

    I have very little time to watch TV on my own, but I did get the first season watched a couple of years ago. Since I sew a lot, and I like period dramas, I was instantly hooked, but since I only have Roku, it was a long time before I even had access to the second season, and I never did get time to watch it or the third.

    A couple of months ago I decided to face the fact that I will never get the time to watch, while at the same time I have a lot of friends who do and who talk about it, so I went and read all the episode synopses online. I promptly felt quite happy (OK, gleeful) that I had not spent all that time watching it. I'm GLAD, so there!

    It's a very pretty show and I love the clothes, but as far as literary worth--I don't really think so. It's certainly not historically accurate; like so much historical fiction it throws in a heaping dose of modern mores, and there's extra-much because it's TV. The first season seems to have been the best in many ways, and now the show is a victim of its own success and the now-famous actors want better gigs.

    There, you wanted lots of my opinion, right?

    1. Actually yes, I'm always grateful for your opinion! :) That is good to know. That's the impression I had of it, too, so I probably won't be spending my time watching it. Especially because of the non-historically-accurate part. I don't remember too much of what I saw of it, but I was skeptical of any kind of attempt at accuracy.

    2. I've been kind of amazed to see how many people comment on it--I think half my ward watches DA, people who I would not normally expect to watch British period dramas. Which makes it kind of funny that I don't, since I've got a reputation for extreme bookishness and a taste for period dramas.

      Don't think I'm down on the show--but if the question is "is DA such a great show that I should spend the time to seek it out and watch it even though I normally wouldn't?", then I think the answer is no. But I have very little time to watch TV without kids or husband around these days (I'm still waiting to watch the last 20 minutes of Jodhaa Akbar! It's ridiculous!).

  2. I have watched the 1st season, and pretty much agree with Jean. It's a pretty show about times back, beautiful people and beautiful clothes, and a few interesting characters. To me the life "downstairs" was much more captivating than life "upstairs".

    I will probably keep watching, regardless, because I don't generally watch many TV-series (and no TV at all) and because it's TV-soap in the form that I can digest. It's good for unwinding, for me personally.

    1. That makes sense. I'm definitely not judging the many great people I know who watch it and love it, I was just beginning to wonder if there were more to it than I think there is.

  3. I've seen a grand total of one episode, a random one in the middle of this latest season, and it didn't hook me enough to make me go dig up older episodes. Though I do love Maggie Smith. But yeah, it seems like a soap in fancy clothes. Eye candy, emphasis on the candy?