Going Downton | The Eye
Are you hooked on the show yet?
Downton has succeeded in reigniting America’s fascination with Edwardian culture. The complex interplay between the characters’ lavish lifestyle, the historical context, and the drama of provocative love triangles and shocking betrayals never fails to leave fans waiting with bated breath for the next episode. Its lush layers of drama develop as the family and the help face individual struggles and challenges, which are set against a recognizable historical backdrop. Last season, characters paired up in scintillating story lines while the dark shadow of the Great War loomed overhead.The fictional estate of Downton Abbey, where the characters reside, also plays a significant role. The setting is provided by Highclere Castle, a country house in Berkshire belonging to the Earl of Carnarvon, and is arguably a character in itself. “I’m not sure it’s easy to separate the show’s narrative from its setting,” says Joanna Scutts, a postdoctoral Core lecturer whose scholarly research focuses on World War I literature and culture. “I think without the lavish scenery it would be impossible to convey the sense of what’s at stake in preserving Downton. The sheer weirdness of master-servant relationships as they’re shown here would be hard to recreate in another historical period.”Curiosity about this particular historical period has been a key driving force behind the show’s current popularity. The show strikes a fine balance by supplying historical intrigue with familiar landmark events, while reserving the more serious details for the history books. Even so, publishers and booksellers are feeling the influence of the Downton craze as literature featuring World War I and 20th-century British culture experiences a boom in sales.“I’m just enjoying the show so much, I thought I needed to get a book about it,” Claire Griffiths says in an interview with the New York Times. “I was watching the war scenes and thinking, I don’t know enough about this. So maybe I can learn something in the process.”One could also argue that the fascination with Downton’s aesthetic is a distinctly American one. “I think that Downton Abbey simply hits home for a lot of people. None of its facets are exclusionary,” Walsh says. “But most of all, I think Americans are drawn to British nobility. Whether it’s Downton Abbey or the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, there is something about the fairy tale-like opulence of royalty that fascinates Americans.”
Posted in Domestic Industry News