Saturday, January 7, 2012

Doubting There is Anything Better than Downton

Oh Downton. Why? Why do I love you so much it hurts to think about the months in between when I don't see you? Why does my heart go pitter patter with anxiety, hope, despair and longing every time you light up my television from an unidentified source. I feel as though we are forever connected by the sheer strength of my suffocating obsessive grip on you, you grandiose and altogether perfect combination of skilled storytelling/acting/costumes/cinematography etc. I know, I know. Using the phrase, "perfect combination" sounds, in way, a bit of an insult to what you really are, no? I must confess I would skip my wedding for you. I would tell my groom I have an errand to run and sneak into a bathroom stall with my ancient 06 laptop, the accompanying coolant fan, and some wi-fi to locate a download of you just to re-watch some key scenes. If, dear readers, you haven't experienced Downton yet, well, all I can say is, "when did you know your heart had no capacity for love?" Did you know, deprived soul,  that Downton is in the Guiness Book of World Records as the most critically acclaimed show of ALL-TIME. Yo, BBC's Pride & Prejudice, I'm really happy for you, and I'm gonna let you finish, but Downton is the best show of all-time. ALL-TIME...

I recently revisited Season 1 with my mum and dad.  I literally sat on the couch sandwiched between both my parents (or as my therapist would say, I was sandwiched between the metaphysical constraints stagnating my maturation into adulthood)  in a sort of turn of the century pre-game to Season 2. It was a no-holds barred marathon replete with subtitles for the ESL amongst our group. Within the first hour my father started making acute observations, such as, "Puta, que bueno." Well said, Carlos J. Kuri. I've been trying to pinpoint exactly what it is about this show that inspires such impassioned praise and while the most obvious and rudimentary assessment would suggest it's the writing/acting/ etc., I say nah. It is fact that Downton is the quintessential amuse-bouche but still, the tingly sensation that courses through me after each hour of the show can only be attributed to the meth component hidden within the gilded hallways of Highclere Castle, aka, the Abbey. One can't help but desperately pace, and itch, and need for the next installment seconds after the credits clear the screen. I can't remember feeling that way about anything else. Don't think I am not fully aware of how this paints me on my profile. I can't help it though. It's the meth I tell you, the meth!!!!

 So what's it all about? I'm not going to tell you. Seeing is believing. Besides, history has taught me that delving into the plot points only cheapens the experience, or in the alternative, taints the opinion with preconceived impressions based on one's tolerance for period piece drama. And boy is there drama at Downton. High dollar drama. If Downton and say, 90210, were on the prostitute scale, 90210 would be a penthouse escort service and Downton would be Jessica Simpson's fiance, Eric Johnson. So good and manipulative you wouldn't even realize you were with a life-time prostitute. You see what I'm saying? ALL-TIME. I will say as much, though: if you ever wished to go back and re-live the memory of reading your favorite literary classic, whether it be Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy, James, Fitzgerald, Wilde, Doyle, Trollope etc  for the first time without knowing a single detail, this is that experience. I would even argue that it's a better experience because with Downton, since it is original programming, you can't cheat and neither can anyone else. There are no cliff notes or English teacher or encyclopedia (do they even make those any more), or just general existing knowledge telling you what it is, what it's about, what's going happen and the biggest boner killer, how it ends. This show is lit-er-ally the real life proposition of, "what would happen if [insert favorite old-timey author] was a screenwriter living today and wrote a show called [insert favorite book written before 1920]. You see what I'm saying? I'll give you a minute to digest that thought. Downton is truly a work of art in every sense of the word and absolutely worth a viewing. Hey, you may not like it in the end, and that's cool.....NOT...,but regardless I defy you, or anyone else, to come away from that one hour you did dedicate to the most critically acclaimed show of ALL-TIME, and not stand a little straighter, talk a little more appropriately, and wish with all your might that Maggie Smith was your grandmother.

Netflix and other streaming services are running the first season of Downton Abbey in preparation for Season 2 which starts Sunday, January 8th on PBS. Go watch it. It will change your life.

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