It’s been several years since I finished watching this show, which started when I was in my late teens. I feel like this show was a big part of my life, as the seasons and characters kept me company while I grew from a teenager to a young adult. I watched many episodes with my parents, and I have fond memories of the experience as my friends, family and I talked about the show’s drama. Julian Fellowes created a spectacular cultural phenomenon, which I believe will stand a test of time for a few reasons.
As someone with traditional values, I never felt that the show was pushing or shoving any sort of immoral or tiresome agenda. That’s not to say the show is perfect, but never did I feel the characters or story were taken over by a “message.” By today’s standards, the show is tame. It highlights family values, traditional morals, and historical, cultural appreciation without ignoring life’s challenges. Characters make mistakes, new eras are born with strange and scary horizons, and terrible things happen, just like in real life. The real jewel of the show is the simple feeling of visiting friends, or even looking into the past whenever you watch an episode.
The characters are not stereotypes, one-sided, or poorly written. Sure, some of the story lines may have been a bit strange and felt like a waste of time (fake cousin Patrick, anyone?), but it’s so rare to find stories where the characters feel real, complex and alive. That is due to the amazing performances of the actors and the writing. High Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, and Rob James-Collier just to name a few are faces that the show couldn’t be without (really everyone is outstanding).
There is something important about having a cozy, warm show, though not to say it is a dull or mellow environment. I think a show is good when you can come back to it later and watch it all over again and want to relive the experience. Not only that, but the effort put into the show is about excellence. The costumes, the authenticity, the character reactions, the pacing – they say if you are going to do something, it is worth doing it well. And that includes creating a drama that showcases the passing of an old age and the dawning of a new one.
If you haven’t watched Downton Abbey in a while, consider revisiting it – especially since the sequel to the first movie is out fairly soon. And if you’ve never tried the show, stop telling yourself you don’t like drama. Yes, you do. And if you are going to take in some drama, might as well do it while watching a well-written and beloved modern classic.