Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why you need to start watching Downton Abbey

I've received requests from my fans (aka my friend Grace and her mom if her mom knew I had a blog) to write a post about the mini series called Downton Abbey. If you watched the Emmys or the Golden Globes you probably saw Downton Abbey win a few awards but maybe you weren't paying attention because no one really watches for the mini-series award.

Except me. I freaking love mini-series, especially historical mini-series. The Kennedys? I was all over that. Band of Brothers? Obviously. Biographies, documentaries, historical fiction, it's all right up my alley.

(side note: my friend Hannah thought that the series was called "Down to Nabby." As in, "lets all go down to Nabby!" And that is never not funny to me)

So Downton Abbey is set around 1920, think Titanic era. It has a very Pride and Prejudice  feel to it, except that this family is ridiculously rich, and has about 100 servants following them around. It's told just as much from the perspective of the servants as it is from the perspective of the family. I don't think Downton Abbey is geared towards women the way that Pride and Prejudice was. It's less about romance, and more about intrigue and secrets between servants and the family. But there's still plenty of romance.

You can't just start anywhere in the series, the episodes all build on each other. So it's pointless for me to tell you which episodes are best. Instead, I had an internal conversation with myself about how I can best present Downton Abbey. Here is how it went

Hannah #1: The best way is to select my favorite characters and give some information about them.
Hannah #2: (in a pompous, old-age British voice)  Pick my favorite characters from Downton Abbey? I could no sooner select my favorite child, nor the most beautiful star in the sky! (god...)

Except YES I CAN and her name is Maggie Smith.

1) Maggie Smith: The Dowager Countess
I love Maggie Smith. At one point the only piece of information about myself on my Facebook info page was that Maggie Smith is "Someone I look up to." And I swear I never posted that. She just flew into my Facebook page one day, and I never took it down because it so perfectly described my feelings towards her.

She also acts a lot like my Aunt Karen. Which speaks to my Aunt's personality that I compared her to a woman from the 1920s. Who is 80 years old. And too stuffy even for the 1920s.

Emily? Katie? John? Mom? Dad? Come on, Shelly. 

Maggie Smith's character in Downton Abbey is the most marvelous human specimen. She is a symbol of the "old age" (we're talking 1890s here) that her children and grandchildren are letting slip through their fingers. She's also the comedic relief and I love it. She's hilariously disconnected from the problems of the average person.  At one point a potential heir to Downton suggests that he work at home during the week and take care of Downton Abbey on the weekends, and Maggie pipes up all, "Whats a week-end?" And she is genuinely unaware.She's sassy and scary but also funny and secretly kind.

At one point she nearly falls out of a swivel chair, which she calls a "modern invention" even though it was invented by Thomas Jefferson. 

The other day when I started following Downton Abbey on Twitter (yeah, wanna fight about it?) I was immediately followed by The Dowager Countess or @TheLadyGrantham which is Maggie Smith's character and I would like to share some of her tweets.

**UPDATE** The Dowager Countess started following lil' ol me on Twitter and this glorious thing happened:

All my dreams...

I, like Batman, must keep my true identity a secret. For the good of Gotham and its people. Anyway, to summarize: Maggie Smith is fantastic as the out-of-touch yet super comical granny. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I never met a Maggie I didn't like. 

2) Cousin Matthew; potential heir, permanent love interest. 
I love Matthew Crawley because he's one of those people where you're first introduced to his character and you're all "Meh. Who cares? He is so dreadfully down in the mouth, and he seems hardly more civilized than the footman who follows his every step."

exhibit A

But then they develop his character and you're all "ZOMG Matthew Crawley? He's so kind, I would love for him to accompany me on a hunt, even if I had to bring my governess!"

May I suggest a brisk walk about the hydrangeas?

PLUS he's been making weak chins sexy since 1910. And I (as well as the entirety of my family) would like to thank you, kind sir.

3) Lord Robert Crawley : Hugh Bonneville
Hugh Bonneville is so adorable. He looks like a slightly pudgier Colin Firth.

No? Yes? Just me? Anyway. I would love to have a nice English breakfast with these two men. The conversations we'd have! I bet they'd be really good at trivial pursuit. They just... look knowledgeable. 

Or perhaps you know Hugh best as.... COUSIN BERNIE FROM NOTTING HILL?! The one who had no idea that Julia Robert's character was famous.

"I fancy you. At least I did until you got so fat"

He's not quite so adorable as Lord Crawley. Mostly because he's aged 15 years. Robert Crawley is the Earl of Grantham, so he's the patriarch of the family. He has no other job besides maintaining Downton Abbey and marrying off his daughters. He's willing to bend the rules sometimes, but is mainly very strict about being proper and whatnot. 

Mostly he's just really endearing and it's pretty hard not to like him. 

My final thought: It was really late when I finished this post and I stumbled upon this GIF

... and it was the funniest thing I've ever seen. UNTIL I SAW THIS.

I laughed for a thousand years. And it's not even that funny. Then I showed it to a girl in lecture and I laughed and she didn't laugh so I started laughing harder and she scooted away. (Oh, me)




      I die.

  2. I really want the entire cast to sing a version of Petula Clark's "Downtown", replacing every instance of the word "downtown" with the word "Downton". This would sell a lot of DVDs.

    1. I laughed so hard when I read this, then I watched the music video and I laughed even harder.

  3. Okay, that gif of Maggie Smith looking like Aunt Karen is SO SPOT ON that I had to take off my headphones to LAUGH properly.

    This post is amazing for a million reasons. And as soon as I'm done with Party Down, I vow to start watching post haste.

  4. Oh my gosh I LOVE Party Down. Just wait until Megan Mullally gets there.

  5. Mary-Carol bought the first season on DVD and is going to loan it to me as soon as she's done!