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It seems to me that the popularity of Downton Abbey can be explained pretty simply: The world created by Julian Fellowes is a world of class identity without class conflict, whereas ours is a world of class conflict without class identity. In its self-evidence to the viewer, this chiasmus neatly erases the possibility of having both class identity and class conflict: old-school class consciousness. Which works out well for the PBS/NPR demographic, who might secretly like nothing better than to separate class from consciousness.

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2 thoughts on “Downton

  1. Interestingly, Thomas Barrow, the footman turned valet, is one of the only characters who expresses frustration with the class system. As we know, he is portrayed as a conniving fellow and one that happens(?) to be gay. Fellows makes it hard to like Barrow, while poor Tom Branson, our would be revolutionary, is a mope, but a solid heterosexual who always reminds us that the family has been good to him.

  2. One-dimensional, vacuous character portrayals and stereotypes plus artificially accelerated melodrama render Downton Abbey a nighttime soap opera. I declined to watch the show after a few boring episodes, despite being English and having familiarity with the prevailing class mores depicted in the script.

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