You will have to excuse me. I cannot help myself; I am suffering from Downton Abbey Fever.
It is my guilty pleasure. Unlike some friends who confess to clandestine marathon sessions of Honey Boo Boo, for me, Downton Abbey is the sly indulgence. Downton Abbey portrays so many aspects of society that were so very, very wrong, you see, and yet, I want them.
To sweep down a staircase and make an entrance before an audience that would gasp at the splendour of the gown and jewels my lady’s maid placed just so upon me. I want that. To sit in a dining room and have my meal proffered to me on silver platters by the footman. I want that. To choose a book from the thousands available and while away an afternoon by the fire (built by someone else) in the library. I want that. To catch the wafting scent of climbing roses as I stroll on 4,000 acres of lush green lawn or on groomed footpaths shaded by pear trees. I want that.
I want that. Who wouldn’t?
To fulfill my fantasy, I set aside the other side of the story told so plainly in Downton Abbey: class differences based on accidents of birth, racism, anti-Catholic sentiment, virginity prized over good character, poor prison conditions, and an unjust justice system. (Pretty flimsy evidence against Bates, didn’t you think?) I set aside that women of the time couldn’t choose to wear pants, let alone vote. I set aside that a servant woman’s life could be destroyed by a youthful indiscretion while the daughter of an earl could suffer no long-term ill effects from a similar mis-step.
To fulfill my fantasy, I set aside the seedy underbelly and ponder the beauty and art of Downton.
Then I cast my eyes to Honey Boo Boo and the sort—the guilty pleasure of others. I ponder shows that glorify backwardness, mean streaks and obscenities, and reality TV that features more bleeps than words. I ask myself: Where is the beauty and the art there? There is none. There is no fantasy flip-side.
I don’t want that. Who would?
Given the choice between people who are too buttoned-up and those too unbuttoned, I will choose the ones without pasty, exposed midriffs. I will put my kettle on the boil, place my silver spoon in the tea-pot, and set out my favourite china cups.
I will settle into my comfortable couch, surrender to Downton Abbey Fever, and dream.