“Downton Abbey” brings drama despite common misconceptions



Catherine Hamilton

Although most people view the British show, “Downton Abbey,” as entertainment for middle-aged and elderly people, everyone can actually enjoy the interesting and sometimes scandalous period piece.

Despite the occasional slow pace of the plot, the show drew the interest of the viewer from the first season. The first season takes place right after the heir to the estate and title of Earl dies in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

After the news comes in, an extremely distant cousin, Matthew Crawley, enters as the new heir and develops a love interest for Mary Crawley, daughter of the current Earl. Throughout the first season, drama such as affairs, love triangles and personal and family problems plague the characters’ lives.

In addition to the main family, the show also focuses on the staff downstairs. The butlers, housemaids, ladies’ maids and footmen provide a contrasting type of dynamics for the viewers.

Now, with the fifth season in full swing, the series is as clever and funny as ever. Maggie Smith, cast as the head matriarch of the entire family, proves to be the most hilarious character with her sassy and confident statements throughout the show.

Violet (Smith) does not miss a beat, despite her old age. 

As the character that possibly makes the show the hit that it is, Violet reveals her accepting and adaptable nature despite her traditional values.

After being one of the first family members to learn that one of her granddaughters had a baby out of wedlock and ran away with her, she immediately accepts the situation and develops a plan. Besides the interesting dynamics and characters in the show, “Downton Abbey” also follows along with the changing fashion and ideas of the early 1910s and 20s. In season five, Mary Crawley, the oldest daughter, reveals how fast times really are changing when she becomes the first one to change her style and cut her hair.

Mary (Michelle Dockery) comes walking in one episode looking Gatsby-esque with a sleek dress and a straight, short bob haircut. When comparing the outfits from the first season to the fifth season, the viewer can see a very obvious difference and change in style. 

While some characters adapt to change very quickly, others find adjusting to the new era very difficult.

In addition to changing times and babies out of wedlock, the show also focuses on controversial topics such as rape, murder and affairs.

Currently, a lady’s maid is recovering from a brutal rape while the police try to convict her husband for her rapist’s murder. Besides the drama in the servants’ quarters, Lady Mary Crawley almost gets caught having an affair until her grandmother (Maggie Smith) steps in to smooth over the situation.

Even the elderly women in the series have scandalous stories to tell. Violet reveals that she almost cheated on her husband and ran off with a Russian prince in her young age. 

Even Violet’s slightly younger cousin, Isobel, starts pursuing a relationship with an upper-class Lord until his sons rudely show their disapproval.

Most people have strong misconceptions about “Downton Abbey.” Although at first glance the show might seem like a real bore, it actually offers something for everyone. In fact, younger people might even enjoy the show more than the typical and expected middle-aged crowd might.

The show even offers entertainment for history buffs as it portrays events such as the sinking of the Titanic or World War I. “Downton” touches on some social issues like politics and the extreme differences in classes. Because the show focuses on all different types of people and different situations, it never gets dull and remains a must-see for everyone.