"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, January 23, 2012

Downton Abbey Gets Soapy

The Regular Wife and I love Downton Abbey.  But, unlike some of the other great shows on Masterpiece Theater over the years, it is the purest soap opera, generating "drama" from the manipulation of its viewers' natural desires to see lovers finally overcome obstacles, come together, and get married.   Every single plot thread has this same generic structure:  man (Matthew Crawley, Branson the chauffer, Mr. Bates the valet) loves girl (Mary, Sybil, Anna) but cannot consummate the relationship because of obstacles (the war, loyalty to another girl, pride; class distinctions; an evil ex-wife).   It's wonderfully engaging to watch, but I can't help thinking that it's a storyline that absent the British accents and the costumes would fit right in on Dallas or Falcon Crest.


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