Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Downton Abbey III?
I happened to read this article about the third season of Downton Abbey, which will premiere in England in the fall of 2012, and then in the U.S. in January 2013. This line, from the show's producer, jumped out at me:
The third season, Neame said, will likely open in the post-War years, leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Really? Let's do the math, shall we. The central romantic leads are Matthew and Mary. Matthew was an established barrister when the show began in 1912. Mary was the oldest sister, fairly worldly, and eligible to "date" and perhaps marry some much older men. I'd say that the show assumed that they were 30 and 25, respectively. By the end of the second season in 1919, they would be 37 and 32 (though they don't look it). And that means that by 1939, when WW II starts, they'd be 57 and 52! Not exactly the stuff of romance. Meanwhile, Lord Grantham, with three grown daughters in 1912 and having been an officer in the Boer War at the turn of the century, would likely be in his 70s when WW II starts. I don't see him cavorting with the upstairs maids at that age.
And, of course, the Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith, would be pushing 100 years old by then.
I noted this problem with the second season, when sister Sybil announces in 1919 that she was 21, which meant that she was (completely improbably), 14 when the first season started in 1912. The historical sweep I guess works to make the show more dramatic (in a soap opera-y way). But it also makes a hash out of the reality of the show.