OK, I’ll admit it. I’m watching Downton Abbey. And enjoying it.
Some might quibble with me calling this a “guilty pleasure” because it’s wannabe highbrow entertainment, but that’s putting the proverbial lipstick on the equally proverbial pig. The show’s a soap opera. In spite of the period dress, impressive British accents, and fancy estate, it’s all about falling in love with the characters and their (fake) lives.
And I’m eating it up. Just because it’s on PBS, posers like myself can watch and still look down our noses at the voyeurs addicted to the scandalous behavior of the beautiful people on daytime TV. But the recipe is the same: Good looking people behaving badly. What difference does it make that they’re prancing around in petticoats and cummerbunds instead of negligees and tank tops? Well, it does to me.
I find myself actually discussing with otherwise intelligent people whether Bates killed his wife or Thomas really has repented of his conniving ways. Will Mary call off her wedding with the arrogant Richard and marry Matthew? Seriously, if you didn’t know those people were British aristocracy, couldn’t it be just another episode of “The Young and the Restless”? Aren’t they just older and restlesser?
The only real redeeming feature that sets Downton Abbey apart from General Hospital and its ilk is that it ends. After a few episodes, I can set it aside and get on with my life. Based on what I’ve read, the same thing is happening to daytime TV. Only four network soaps are left. I think that’s great. Fewer people are watching that trash, using their time instead on more productive pursuits.
Like watching Downton Abbey.