I confess to watching Downton Abbey, the glorified soap opera that PBS runs on “Masterpiece Classic.” (By the way, what was the last true masterpiece to appear on Masterpiece Theatre/Classic, I Claudius?) My excuse is that I got hooked before I realized how flawed the show is.
A better excuse, albeit of the after the fact variety, came briefly to mind when I saw, via Forbes Magazine, that some among the British left dislike Downton Abbey, going so far as it claim that its popularity in the United States is due to the rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative opposition to the death tax. Apparently, the British left is unhappy that Downtown Abbey doesn’t portray the aristocracy as vicious. It would like to see the aristocratic patriarch, Lord Grantham, beat the servants and kick his dog.
But Lord Grantham serves the left’s purposes in a more meaningful way by being the biggest fool in Christendom (with the even more conservative Mr. Carson giving him a run for his money). He is wrong, sometimes criminally so, about every issue that arises, and usually for the same reason — he is wedded to tradition and refuses to accept the new thinking on a particular subject. He makes Archie Bunker look like a genius, and All in the Family was not created to extol the intelligence of lower-middle class American male conservatives.
The British Left’s displeasure with Downton Abbey isn’t a commentary on the show. Rather, it is a demonstration of its ideological and cultural greed.
The American left is shrewder and more realistic. The Obamas enjoy Downton Abbey so much that Michelle Obama is said to have pulled strings to get the third season of Downton Abbey before its United States launch on January 6 of this year.