SPOILER ALERT!: The following public letter to Masterpiece reveals some spoilers from the tv series, “Downton Abbey,” but contains nothing from the current Season 6. No offense is intended for those who find redeeming, personal enjoyment from said miniseries. These are completely my own opinions, based on my own reactions from the show.
Dear Masterpiece (formerly Masterpiece Theatre),
Like a lot of period drama lovers out there, I love certain aspects of Downton Abbey. The music, the costumes, the drama, the romance, the props, the elegance of the time era…! It makes this romantic-at-heart swoon. Truth be told, I was hesitant about watching it when it first came out, because I had my suspicions about it. I had heard about certain plot elements that went against my spiritual convictions.
However, I decided to give it a try and took the plunge into Season 1. I was able to gloss over some of the parts I winced at (Thomas’ love affair with another man; Lady Mary’s tryst with Mr. Pamuk). I told myself that Thomas’ story didn’t last long, and Lady Mary’s actions were not celebrated. So I concentrated on all the lovely details of the episodes.
I determined not to watch Season 2 when I saw the trailers. It seemed to contain a lot of sleeping around and I didn’t feel I could watch the new series with any real pleasure. But then I changed my mind and decided to flip the channel during sex scenes. I was glued to the dramatic storyline.
Season 3 was by far my most favorite of all. The acting was superb, my emotions were engaged with every episode, I cared about the characters, and I didn’t have to worry about fast forwarding. I was highly looking forward to Season 4!
I know many people were upset at the unfortunate turn of events centering around Anna. I, however, was not one of them, since bad things do happen to good people in this fallen world. I’ve heard Joanne Froggatt’s acting was exceptional throughout this season. But I decided not to view it, mainly due to the fact that I am very sensitive by nature and didn’t feel I could handle the heavy theme. I kept up on what happened through the season though, by reading the descriptions of the episodes. Suddenly having the drama stripped of all it’s heady “frills” and just reading about its descriptions made me realize something. I could conceive no good that would come of me viewing the rest of Downton Abbey. Tom has a dalliance with another woman after his being widowed, something that just doesn’t feel true to his character (even if he was drunk). Viewers are to feel in favor of Mr. Gregson divorcing his mentally disabled wife and taking up with Edith; eventually they have an affair and she becomes pregnant.
It didn’t stop there. Season 5 went on to have one character after another heading to the bedroom, without accurately portraying the hurt and pain these people have deep inside as a result of giving themselves away so flippantly. I haven’t watched another Downton Abbey episode since then. Will I change my mind about watching it? We’ll see, but I highly doubt it. I’m sure there are bits I’d still love about the show inter-sprinkled among all the offensive parts. But by now, the sexual perverseness far outweighs the glorious costumes for me. I’ve stuck through movies or tv shows before that weren’t completely clean, but either I was only committed for 2 hrs and could easily fast forward, or there were more redeeming elements than the occasional “oops! Close my eyes!”. I cannot say that of Downton Abbey. It really has become a glorified soap opera. The heady glamor of the show made me feel sucked into rooting for the characters’ debauched behavior. I’m not a prude.
Masterpiece, over the years I’ve highly enjoyed many films on PBS. But it has increasingly been leaving lots to be desired. I don’t appreciate movie adaptations of Charles Dickens’ classic novels adding in gay characters to make it more ‘modern’ or other period dramas becoming ‘edgier’ in order to push your liberal agenda. It just is not true that people don’t want to watch bonnet dramas anymore. If it is an excellent picture, with characters viewers can identify with, we will be with you. Classic works of literature are classics for a reason, and they’ve done well enough for a hundred years or more without the graphic bedroom scenes. I’m not a prude; I just don’t prefer to watch it. I would look forward to seeing more Masterpiece films and miniseries featuring clean adaptions of classic novels (preferably ones that aren’t remakes of the remakes), instead of ones that are glitzy and glamorous but substantially hollow.
Please give us more wonderful content, and I will be a loyal viewer.
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