Don’t get me wrong. I love ‘Downton Abbey,’ but by every rule of logic PBS should not air it next season. By these rules — rules I have been troubled by long before this — the American public is kidding itself when it cheers this BBC series. If only the viewers would put aside their emotional attachment to this classy Edwardian masterpiece and instead stick with straight logic, well, logically they should consider these stuffy, effete aristocrats as downright antithetical to everything American.
Are you starting to see my point…?
We Americans pride ourselves in our love of no-nonsense, shirtsleeves liberty. We have always rejected class pride and pretensions, so these self-centered, over-dressed prigs should be mostly dismissed. That would be the logical conclusion, right? But here, as in most novels and programs about Victorian and Edwardian England, logic flies out the window.
We may pretend to prefer the free-wheeling, blue-jeaned culture of anything goes. However, some of us suspect Americans secretly yearn for the form and formality of a ‘Downton Abbey.’ After all, It represents that secure foundational feeling of order in one’s life. Logic may tell us the opposite of order is liberty, but experience tells us the opposite of order is often disorder. The kind of hardscrabble disorder-called-liberty seen in shopping malls, football stadiums, NASCAR races and gun-toting rednecks in smalltown America.
Sure, no one likes to be ordered around. But most everyone hopes for the social order that allows them to survive the disorder of their times. It’s like the great American habit of criticizing the cops till you need one. I may be wrong, but Downton Abbey seems as if it doesn’t need as many cops as our liberty-loving times do.
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