After five days of a miserable cold, there are few things I achieved on the old “to do” lists I am always keeping. However, one thing I did achieve is that I fell in love with a new story, the story of Downton Abbey. I am thankful to this story because it kept my mind distracted when I was down and out. There is nothing better than being wrapped up in a wonderful tale when you can’t do much else. So, i wanted to write a bit about it on the blog so that you might discover it as well, if you are interested in the subject matter.
Downton Abbey is a television series that comes to us by way of PBS (yay public broadcasting!). You can even watch full episodes on PBS for free. The best way I can explain Downton Abbey when I told some friends about the series is that it is basically a Pride and Prejudice style of tale enjoyed like you were actually reading the book versus in a two-hour film segment. The main differences, however, are that the series isn’t as much a love story-centric tale as Austen’s lauded work. To me, Downton Abbey is the story of a house through the ages and all that goes on within it.
The house is Biltmore on steroids — and having recently toured the Biltmore home, it was fascinating to see some of the very elements of the Vanderbilt’s home in live action in Downton Abbey. You follow the storylines of the main family that lives there, the lines of inheritance, the stories of the maids and servants, and of course the common theme of wedding daughters of a prestigious family such that they can live comfortable lives being provided for by men of means.
While some have called the series a glorified soap opera dressed up in Victorian clothing, I think it is more than that. It is a cultural study of its time and it is truly fascinating. Certainly there are melodrama moments, but that is what makes the storyline so insatiable. And, one of my favorite actors plays a leading role, Maggie Smith — and she is just exquisite.
If you haven’t seen any of the episodes, you can watch most of Season 1 on Netflix or Hulu and you can watch Season 2 on PBS. Enjoy!