It’s official. I’m a complete sap. I cried like a baby at the close of the final episode of Downton Abbey.
How is it we can become so attached to a TV show? I can barely fathom next January rolling around and not having a new season of Downton Abbey to transition me out of the Holidays and into the cold, long winter months.
I need to know what happens next in the lives of these characters I have grown so fond of!
I was going to discuss the historical aspects of the show, but keeping it real…that’s another post; I need to grieve and just talk about the show.
Downton Abbey—talk about a History Fix!—but as important as that aspect is to me, it’s the characters, their challenges and the sense of community that hooked me from episode one. While the Crawley’s and their staff lead very different lives, they are symbiotic, each allowing for the others existence. The contrast is stark, but their lives interwoven.
The history of the period is the framework on which the stories are laced. Covering the years 1912 – 1925 a period of monumental social change: the Suffragette movement and the rise of the lower class, both accelerated by World War I. It’s the perfect setting to view an upper-class family with three daughters and a household staff—lot’s of drama!
FASHION & SETS: DOWNTON EYE CANDY
It’s only thirteen years, but what changes! The house is fairly unchanged, other than the addition of new-fangled gadgets like the “wireless” (a fad said Robert), telephone (screams like a banshee said Mrs. Patmore) and various other items such as a sewing machine and toaster (which was met with ire by Mr. Carson).
When you compare the fashions of 1912 to those of the 1920’s, well it looks like a completely different show! Here are some of my favorites:
MUSIC: DOWNTON EAR CANDY
Those opening bars, haunting but exciting, perfectly capture the bittersweet essence of life at the Abbey. The whole score is beautiful. Yes I listen to it on Spotify!
WRITING & ACTING: DOWNTON SOUL CANDY
The characters. Written so compellingly by Julian Fellowes and acted to perfection by a stellar cast, they are the heartbeat of the series. Everyone has a story. Each person grows, stumbles, and redeems themselves.
Sisters Mary and Edith exemplify the depth and breadth of this theme. Often the hatred between them is palpable! They take turns throwing each other under the bus in the most unforgivable ways: Edith puts the word out that Mr. Pamuk died in Mary’s bed. Mary tells Edith’s beau Berty Pelham, that Marigold is Edith’s daughter, and he retracts his offer of marriage—Edith has had the worst luck in love!
But they both evolve and redeem themselves. Mary does so sporadically; I think her self-loathing gets in the way. She struggles with Edith’s eventual success. Such petty behavior could make a character rather flat. Not Mary. Just a couple scenes after ruining Edith’s chance with Berty in the second to last episode, she breaks down at Matthews’s grave, seeking his approval or forgiveness for her desire to remarry. I go from wanting to punch her, to tearing up in empathy.
Edith, who I was not fond of initially, sort of became my hero. She has embraced the emerging new world and has grown into a Modern Woman: she put herself out there as a writer, and ended up the owner/editor of a magazine left to her by Marigold’s father. My kind of girl!
Mr. Barrow, Mr. Molesley, Daisy the under-cook…almost everyone grows and changes on some level!
Love. I think it’s wonderful that love is not only for the young at Downton Abbey. Yes we see young Sibyl fall for Tom the chauffeur, but we also watch the marriage of her parents, Robert and Cora, weather stormy waters when Cora has an admirer.
We watch the relationship between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes blossom below stairs. Even the formidable Dowager Countess Violet has a love interest from her past resurface…through him we learn she wasn’t always so “by the book.”
Moments? There are tons of special moments in every episode, so tough to pick just a few from six seasons. The entire last episode is a “moment!” There are a few scenes that I will always remember, poignant, funny and tragic:
- Mary and Matthew’s Christmas kiss in the snow after she finally accepts his proposal.
- After being tested for competency to teach school, footman Mr. Molesley (who perennially feels out of place), is informed he is at the level of a Cambridge or Oxford graduate.
- Mary bobs her hair and asks, “Granny, what do you think?” Violet replies, “Oh, it is you…I thought it was a man wearing your clothes.”
- Carson and Mrs. Hughes wading into the ocean, holding hands.
- Sibyl’s death after childbirth. When she said she was seeing stars I was panicking, yelling at the screen, “She’s stroking out! Do something!” Her death seemed so senseless.
- Years later, Tom, Mary and Edith holding hands in the nursery at Christmas, remembering Sibyl, the three who knew her best.
Downton Abbey is a journey I will relive over and over again through my DVDs—I’m a bit like Carson, holding on to the old ways. I hear there could be a Downton Abbey movie in the future. Not enough I say! It would need to be a twelve hour movie! There can be intermissions.
Fellow Downton Abbey lovers! What moves you about this show? Please help me through my grief and keep the conversation going—share your favorite “moments” below or over on Facebook!