Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Downton: Abbey of Anguish

**Warning: There will be spoilers.  I'm talking about Downton Abbey, so if you want to remain pure and unspoilt, steer clear.**

Downton Abbey is a phenomenon.  My friends love it, my aunts love it, my grandmothers love it.  It is addicting in the extreme... but it is also home to some of the most emotionally manipulative writing on television.  (Not saying that's a bad thing, just saying...)  Last night, a friend and I were watching the latest episode and, well, she kind of lost it.  You see, Anna is her favorite character.  When all around are falling apart, she finds comfort in the fact that she can always rely on Anna and Bates's happily-ever-after (now that he's not married to someone else or in prison anymore).  And then... yeah.  She was surprised, stunned, shocked.  I wasn't.  They were spending too much screen time showing how perfect Anna and Bates are.  In Downton, that's like foreshadowing hell on the horizon.

The Downton writing (to me) has always been about yanking the audience as hard and fast from joy to misery as possible.  Who dies?  The nice characters.  A villain gets away with it (whatever "it" may be) and even if they are fired the writers will do insane (and wildly illogical) backflips to make sure the villains will be coming back so we can focus our vitriol and frustration on them more directly.  But if you are genuinely good?  Death!  William.  Lavinia.  Sybil.  Matthew.  Honestly, I'm starting to find it a bit annoying.  It's beginning to feel a bit like a Nicholas Sparks movie - where the deaths (and other tragedies) are not to make us think or make a moral point or even to complicate the plot, but just to make us feel the most when they need a payoff moment.  And then the entire next episode is everyone wallowing in mourning.  Not just being in mourning.  Wallowing in it. 

I feel like it is sacrilegious in some circles to even say this, but I might be going off Downton.

What do you think?  Are you more invested than ever?  Or has the series jumped the shark?

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