Gettin’ Down(ton) at the Abbey

Let me say first that I am not a regular viewer of the PBS show that seems to have stolen the hearts of so many of my friends and the country at large. I do, however, find it entertaining. But in a different way than most.


The first season had come and gone when my son and I decided, one hot summer night, to see what all the fuss was about. He wasn’t thrilled, but he went along with it because there was “nothing better to do.” Ahem.

Well, we started watching the First Season DVD…and we started laughing. Ah, we got it: this was a send-up, a tongue-in-cheek story of the ridiculousness of the British Upper Class back in the day. This was good.

In our favorite scene, the Uppercrusties have been away and come home to some tragedy that’s occurred in their absence. The head maid–Mrs. Hughes, I think–runs up to Elizabeth McGovern (when did she get so old? It seems like “Ordinary People” wasn’t that long ago) to tell her that the whole household is in chaos, or something like that. The Lady, without missing a beat, takes the matter in hand: “I better take off my hat,” she sighs.


Take off her hat? Because she cannot bear to hear the bad news while wearing it? I guess taking her hat off was akin to “rolling up her sleeves.” Except that, you know, those royal sleeves weren’t going anywhere. The staff would fix it because the staff did everything. EVERYTHING.

When I spoke to friends about finally watching The Abbey, they wooed and wowed about the wonder of it all. Wait. Was it NOT supposed to be funny? Oh no.

I’ve been watching tv for a long, long time, and I thought I knew satire when I saw it. But this? This was a phenomenon I just was not getting…so I quit watching. For me, it was a slow, boring show now that I knew they weren’t kidding, and I couldn’t help but feel sickened at the whole I-was-born-to-this-and-you-were-born-to-that-so-take-my-hat-and-make-me-some-pudding thing. I mean, really.


This season is still somewhat new, however, so on a recent dismal tv night (and there are many, huh?), I decided to check back in at The Abbs and see what was cookin’.

WELL, the BIG news that started off Season Four was that the villainous Miss O’Brien (yes, yes, I know) has run off in the middle of the night! Oh no, what shall we do? And most importantly, WHO WILL DRESS MA LADY?!!!

O.M.G. and I mean it. The woman cannot even dress herself? Oh, what will become of her? Will she saunter down to the sumptuous breakfast buffet in her nightie? Will she wander the grand, lush grounds in the all-together? How will she ever be able to go into town, unable to do as much as throw on a simple frock? And WHO, exactly, will help her put on her hat?

da staffIt does take a village.

In other news, the always somber Mary is now even more somber because her hubby has died and she can’t even be bothered to care for her own baby. And HER lady’s maid has to help out with her mother’s care and dressing, which is probably why Mary’s often lying on her bed fully clothed, staring at the ceiling, wondering what the hell to do next.

But most exciting for me was a scene (S4 Eps 2) in which some Duchess is dancing with Tom and asks him where he’s from. Turns out he’s from Bray in Wicklow County, Ireland~~and I’ve been there! She says, then, that he must know the Powerscourts!! We stayed at The Ritz at The Powerscourt Estate and I loved the whole place and now here they were, talking about the actual family that lived there before they turned it into a wonderful place to shop and have brunch:


So now, I want to keep watching to see what happens to good old Tom from Bray. And, of course, to watch the biggest reason to tune into this Upstairs/Downstairs remodel: Maggie Smith.

DOWNTON-ABBEY-Maggie-Smith She really is something, isn’t she? Best part of the show for me by far.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels that Downton Abbey is laughable, as there are many, many parodies out there, including this one: so, in honor of this weekend’s Super Bowl, enjoy.


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