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TV Testimony: A Guide to Downton Abbey for Dudes

February 4, 2012

One of the things I enjoy so much about Downton Abbey is its universal appeal.  It captures an audience that is fairly diverse for a period piece drama.  Still, I think our male counterparts occasionally need a little nudge in the direction of buy-in when it comes to the daily comings and goings of the show.  Here’s a 3 step guide to  Downton Abbey for Dudes...

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD (up through the third episode of Season 2)

1.) Plot:

War is...well, you know the rest.

When trying to explain what Downton Abbey is all about to the gentleman set, NEVER use any of the following words: period piece, costumes, elegance, or romance.  These are guaranteed to make any red-blooded male instantly recoil in horror faster than the suggestion of watching a Lifetime movie of the week that stars Tori Spelling.  Also, don’t let a guy call it “Downtown Abbey”, because, let’s face it, that conjures images of  an entirely different show more appropriate to HBO or Cinemax than public television…

Here’s what to say when trying to summarize the show:

“It’s basically a story about gorgeous, sexy people in the 1900s who really want to suck each others’ faces, interrupted with brief interludes of kick-arse war montages.”

No joke.  It’s surprisingly accurate, too.

2.) Hierarchy

We're going to jolly well sing you a song while other men are rotting away in the trenches!

No need to explain the vast intricacies of the separation of social classes and all that jazz.  Here’s a simple allusion when viewing….

You see that Matthew Crawley, the heir to the Grantham fortune, has decided to go wandering out into the fields of WWI France with nothing but a pistol and the help of his eager sidekick, the lowly and mentally dense footman William.

This is a lot like an episode of Star Trek.  When ladies’ man Captain Kirk beams down to the alien-infested planet with no one but one-time guest star Ensign Bob as his companion, you KNOW who’s going to come back alive.

Sorry, William.

3.) Babes

There are three young and not-so-chipper Crawley daughters to ogle and love on the show.  They are basically no different from many of the girls most of you guys knew in high school.

Lady Mary. She's WISTFUL, okay? Leave the poor girl alone.

Mary Crawley, the eldest daughter, was the type of chick in high school who seemed to have a constant battalion of minions, none of whom seemed to like her very much, but who stayed loyal mostly out of fear.  She’s got a kernel of likability in there, but you have to look REALLY hard to find it.  She’s still trying to decide if she wants to go for the nice-looking guy with a good heart, or  risk it all and marry the morally questionable media magnate with lots of cold hard cash.  Dilemma.

Lady Edith. Yep, that's her normal expression.

Edith Crawley, the middle sister, is unfortunate enough that the babe genes seemed to skip over her entirely.  She has a face that most of the time indicates that she has eaten something entirely disagreeable.   Like most middle children, she feels that life has dealt her a bad hand, and she’s determined to make everyone else  miserable because of it.  Today, this middle child would no doubt choose to date the pizza delivery boy who lives in his parents’ basement because she’s going to CHANGE him, by golly.  Edith, in Downton‘s universe, wants to date lowly married farmers who can’t drive their own plows (believe it or not, that ISN’T innuendo)…

Lady Sybil. Austin Scarlett on Project Runway is gleeful somewhere over this ensemble.

Sibyl Crawley is the most babe-like sister of the bunch (men everywhere: SCORE!), but has decided this season to become a nurse, and therefore is wearing a dress like a sack and a head wrap that makes her look like your crazy, balding grandma (men everywhere: DANG IT!).  Still, she’s the sweetest and most enjoyable sister, the type that high school was probably nice to just about everyone despite their social status, which no doubt meant she would have had every nerd in a three-mile radius drooling hopelessly over her every word.

Alas, Sibyl has fallen for the most inappropriate man possible:  Branson the driver, who is not only precociously socialist and lower class, but IRISH to boot.   This is worse than when Britney Spears married Kevin Federline, folks.    The modern British social equivalent would be if Prince Harry decided to bring home a Dublin-born, Irish Catholic exotic dancer to meet the queen.  GASP!

Anyway, men everywhere:  read my lips:  You, too can like Downton Abbey.

You, too, can talk at the screen during every episode, saying things like, “You know that picturesque French field is full of bored and blood-hungry GERMANS, right, Matthew?!”  and “Mary, just suck face with him already and get it over with so I can eat my Totino’s  pizza in peace!”  It’s surprisingly interactive for PBS.

Downton Abbey airs on PBS on Sunday nights at 8 pm.  Get crackin’ already!

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