Thursday, June 21, 2012

Downton Abbey

I guess I'm so late coming to many different trends because I already have too many of my own obsessions to keep tabs on--visiting at least three or four fan-sites daily takes up a little time. The advantage, however, of coming to the British period show Downton Abbey was that I could watch both Seasons 1 and 2 in a fairly short amount of time.

In recent months, the pages of Vogue have been littered with references to this show, and at least half the room (including the professor) in one of my classes consisted of addicts to it. So I couldn't walk into the show without high expectations, could I?

The first two or three episodes, though, left me a bit bored. There are so many characters, and the structure of the show follows their stories more like a fly silently watching than a camera guiding you to a specific reaction. But by the end of the first season, I was growing more interested.

What's nice about the "fly approach" of the camera is that the audience is left to make their own judgements, to choose their own favorites, to make their own predictions. There aren't many definite answers, so to speak. None of the characters, then, are entirely in the right or wrong; this reality-like approach is one of the things I think has made so many people into fans. The method of simultaneously showing what is going on in the lives of both the servant class and the upper class characters is, of course, also something people cite as part of the positives. Costumes, sets, performances are all quality.

But is all this enough to make Downton Abbey an absolutely spectacular piece around which the world crowds?

For me, it isn't. I've enjoyed the show: it has enough drama and twisting, multiple plot lines to keep your attention in the evenings. But most of it is on the surface level; it never passes the level of simply entertaining. And I'm not saying that that's a bad thing--it's just that I can't see myself re-watching these episodes ten times (as I have been known to do with other things . . . ) or calling myself a Downton Abbey fan even after its last season has closed, whenever that may be. I'll anticipate the third season and watch it, but that's all. This isn't the only period drama out there.

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