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.