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“What is a week-end?” – About Downton Abbey

D2_Ep3_LadyVioletI finally finished watching the third season of Downton Abbey last Sunday. The first thing I have to say is that I read a spoiler about the last episode accidentally, and I absolutely hatted it. One might say that it was a good thing so that I was prepared for such happenings, but I’d rather have been surprised. That said I must follow by saying that I actually liked this show.

What got me to watch Downton Abbey at first was purely a historical interest. I am fascinated by the English society of the 19th century. I love the culture, the literature, the lesser amount of meaningless work and, if we could fix women’s situation at the time, I think I would have liked many things to be like they were back then (yep, like having more time to read or walk among nature and less time wasted in traffic). Yes, I know the story is not happening in the 19th century, but it represents the transition from the way the English society was organized to a completely new form and it is wonderful to watch this.

It’s very interesting to see the older and more traditional characters struggling to keep the beliefs they were brought up with alive and still survive in a world that is changing too fast for them to follow. Don’t ask me why these things fascinate me so much, I cannot explain, but I really enjoy watching the conflicting ideas of the landed gentlemen of the time in trying to keep their states and not knowing how to do it without accepting the new ways of the economic and social organization of England.

Historical aspects aside, I also enjoyed all the drama in the show. I’m not going to talk specifically about anything here because I do not want to give spoilers to anyone who might want to watch Downton Abbey. There are many compelling characters, there is no doubt about that, although I think not all of them are explored as much as they could.

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One of the highlights of the show for me is Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham. Could she be any more perfect? Smith is astounding in her role. Her character, Violet, is one of the most interesting too. She believes in the old social conventions and traditions, and she will do all she can to keep them alive. But she also seems aware that things will change, and there’s not much she can do. In my opinion, Violet is more open to new ideas than her son, Robert. The title of this post “What is a Week-end?” is one of my favourite lines from the show. This is from the first season and the Dowager Countess of Grantham asked this question at the dinner table after Matthew says that he has got a job, but will have time to learn about the estate on the weekends. The scene is just hilarious and delightfully well done!

Another aspect that I want to bring attention to is that, in my opinion, the show seems a bit too much sometimes. That is probably because everything, and I mean everything, that could possibly happen to a landed family that is part of the English aristocracy at this time of change, happens to the Crawley family. There are just too many coincidences sometimes. Once again, I won’t mention any specific events, but if you have watched all the three seasons, you know what I’m talking about.

All in all, Downton Abbey is a show worth watching, especially if you are interested in historical aspects of the beginning of the 20th century! And if you are not interested in history or in the dramas of the English aristocracy, then you should still watch it because of Maggie Smith (I’m serious, she is great!).

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