Jan 8 2012

Downton Abbey!

Warning: I discuss the previous season in detail, and spoil the gasp-worthy moments.  So if you haven’t seen the show yet, beware!


The subtleties are back.  They are back.

Now some “people” may “argue” that the “subtleties” are not so “subtle,” as if Turkish lovers expiring mid-coitus and soap-dropping, baby-killing maids aren’t subtle.

People, please.  When the principal elements of a romance consist mainly of looks across the parlor, and then more looks across the dinner table, and then a part where Lady Mary looks at Matthew and he doesn’t see, and then he looks at her and she doesn’t see — those are the television moments that earn me shrieking, “The subtleties!”

So.  For those of you who have been under a rock or under a rock where Masterpiece Classic isn’t on your radar, here’s the gist of the show.

There’s the afore-mentioned abbey:

Highclere Castle which plays the part of Downton Abbey.

There’s the family Crawley, which consists of three daughters, two beautiful ones and another one named Edith:

Lady Sybil, Lady Mary, and Lady Edith...who is evil.

And the Earl and Countess of Grantham, their parents:

And the nearest male heir, the dashing Matthew Crawley:

"I'd rather be lawyering right now."

And then there’s some servants: the evil Thomas and O’Brien, the sweet Anna and Mr. Bates, the cute Daisy and William.

The drama of the show revolves around the stickier points of primogeniture.  After their cousin and presumptive fiancee of Lady Mary dies on the Titanic, the next male heir in line is a distant cousin Matthew.  And, even though it was Cora Crawley’s American money that saved the estate, the money is tied to the title and both will be inherited by Matthew, leaving the Crawley girls penniless and homeless after the Earl of Grantham dies.

So everybody thinks it would be a REALLY, REALLY GOOD IDEA for Lady Mary to wiggle her startling eyebrows at Matthew and snag herself some heir action.

Like this.


Lady Mary is not easily controlled or persuaded.  She, along with Maggie Smith — Grandmother Grantham  — decidedly do not like Matthew or his mother, and really, though Matthew thinks Mary’s eyebrows are nice and all, he’s not too sure about Downton Abbey either.  A few misunderstandings and a dead Turkish lover later, Mary begins to realize that she does love Mr. Lawyerface and they kiss.  At the same time, Cora has discovered she’s pregnant again.  Could it be the long-awaited brother, the answer to everyone’s prayers?

Well, because of evil meanie purposes, the maid O’Brien makes sure we never find out how a brother would have impacted the abbey.  After Cora loses the baby, and Mary and Matthew meet, he realizes he can never be sure whether Mary is marrying him because he is the heir or because she loves him.  And then he leaves, because the subtleties were all too much for him, and apparently Manchester has a much more manageable set of subtleties.

That’s the first season in a tiny nutshell.  I’m leaving a lot out — there’s stuff about history and there’s remarkably written secondary characters and lots of beautiful dresses and castle rooms.  There’s Maggie Smith!  There’s Dan Stevens!

By the way, I’m really surprised that of all the Downton Abbey Tumblrs, there isn’t something akin to the “Hey Girl” Ryan Gosling memes.

Hey girl, I'm ready to save your estate and your shattered sense of self-worth due to Edwardian property legalities and post-Victorian mores.