Saturday, February 6, 2016

Downton Rant-y

Now that most of the U.S. masses have caught up, I can post this small rant regarding this most recent (and final) season of Downton Abbey.  What has stood out to me most so far are the incorrect literary references made by the upper-class characters!  What the hell, Julian Fellowes?  Let's take a look-see.  (WARNING:  Spoilers for episodes 6.1-6.5)

Episode 6.1:
The family is all atwitter about another great estate being forced to sell their home and family heirlooms.  When getting ready to go view said auction, Mary comments, "The Fall of the House of Usher."

Oh, Mary dear.  Perhaps do more research next time, rather than trying to sound smart.  In Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, the "great house" is ruined not because of (lack of) money, but because of incest. illnesses (mental and physical, possibly results of said incest), and lack of an heir.  Unless you know something about the Darnleys that we don't, I'd say this one is way off the mark.

Episode 6.4:  This one's a two-fer.

I'm sure we've all commented and ranted about the family's inability to call the new Mrs. Carson "Mrs. Carson."  But Lady Rosamund takes it a step too far.  During the welcome back party for the newlyweds, Lady Rosamund says it's like "Jane Eyre insisting she be called Mrs. Rochester."

No, Lady R, it's nothing like that.  While Jane is well within her rights to be called by her married name, she did, indeed, marry far outside of her sphere -- a governess to a landed gentleman.  (Although technically, governesses were neither servants nor family, but existed in a strange limbo in between, but that's for another time.)  Carson and the former Mrs. Hughes are both servants. Moreover, they are "equal servants," if that makes any sense.  They are both at the top of their respective household lines as housekeeper and butler, as opposed to a scullery maid marrying the head butler, or a kitchen boy marrying a lady's maid, or, I don't know, the chauffeur marrying the daughter of the house.  I love Rosamund (that woman can work a chair!), but she would have been better off keeping this remark to herself.

Posture, bitches!
Screen grab courtesy of Tom and Lorenzo

In the same scene, Lady Mary actually says something kind to her sister, Lady Edith; she encourages the hiring of a woman as editor as "it is a woman's magazine."  When Lady Rosamund remarks on her unusual niceness, Mary says, "A monkey could type out the Bible if you leave it long enough."

You were so close on this one, Mary!  Emile Borel's theory, commonly called "the infinite monkey theorem," states that an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters would eventually type out a specific text (usually Shakespeare's Hamlet).  Some people say they will type out the Bible, so I may be able to let this one pass -- if the other two weren't so egregious.

Now one could posit that Fellowes made these incorrect allusions purposefully, in order to make the upper classes look foolish.  I call shenanigans on that theory!  Since when has Fellowes ever allowed his upstairs characters to be or look stupid without someone calling them on their stupidity?  Nope, I think this is just bad writing.  Perhaps less time should have been spent on making sure Lord Grantham's demise was grotesque and medically accurate, and a little more spent on researching actual dialogue.

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