Downton Abbey: Not so fun anymore (SPOILERS)

I didn’t find much to like in last night’s episode. And after coming out of the gate last week with so many strong, emotionally affecting scenes, I was surprised to feel so let down.

Downton was hosting a house party, but in the wake of Matthew’s death, it just wasn’t that much fun.

*I hope they’re going somewhere with this Mosley storyline. Because bringing a guy of a certain age low just to make him the joke week after week isn’t entertaining to me.

*The young people in the kitchen seem to serve no purpose but to bother Mrs. Patmore

*Doesn’t it seem like at some point when Lady Edith says for the tenth time, “I can’t believe you’re doing this for me,” Mr. Gregson would clarify that she wants him to? Don’t become a German in order to divorce your wife in order to marry a Lady who might not be that into you. 

*I am really responding to the writing of the grief storyline and the actresses playing Mrs. Crawley and Mary are killing me with how good they are.


But ultimately, the episode was leading to a new storyline that (for me) may ruin the show. The decision to have one of the women be violently attacked and raped in the kitchen while the entire household listens to opera upstairs, takes the show completely out of the realm of fun, fantasy, and voyeurism. That she clearly feels unprotected and unable to seek justice makes it worse. This show, with its class issues, money troubles, gender inequality and even death has still proved to be a good time. But now it can’t be a good time  because something real and insidious and evil has moved front and center and nothing can (or should) distract me from this crime. Yes, rape plots abound on tv (there’s an entire Law & Order series devoted to it) but it has completely changed the tenor of this show and I’m not sure I can be entertained by it.

– Jen


8 Responses to “Downton Abbey: Not so fun anymore (SPOILERS)”

  • Julie Says:

    Oh my goodness, Jen! I so agree! I felt pretty betrayed by the show last night. Before last night, all the “evilness” was more in the variety of Thomas’s shenanigans with the wine and some mild scheming among the characters to jockey for position within the house. All the bad stuff that happened was brought on by illness or car crashes or things beyond anyone’s control. Last night allowed true evil into the house and into the show and made it not fun anymore. Like you said, there are “rape” plots on other shows, but it feels out of place on Downton and really took the charm out of it for me. I am not sure it completely ruined the show for me yet, but it’s close.

  • Marion Says:

    Hi Jen,
    Once again you’re review is spot on. However, while a part of me did not like the rape scene, I am torn with the reality of that time period. I’m thinking that this type assault occurred more than we would like to know. What is really disturbing for me is that this type of crime still exists in the 21st Century. I guess the more things change they really do stay the same. In particular, during times when jobs are hard to come by, etc. I would have preferred that the show had not gone in this direction, especially with a character like Anna. I will have to see it through.

  • Lisa W Says:

    When that storyline was playing out I thought, uh-oh Jen is not going to like this AT ALL. And of course, judging from the preview for next week, Anna’s going to keep it quiet so the attacker will stick around. This annoys me so much that I’m not nearly as excited about watching the show now.

  • Shari Says:

    With you there, sister. I woke up in the wee hours of Monday morning and could not get back to sleep from being disturbed by the attack and with worry over the Bates characters.

  • Megan in Seattle Says:

    Thank you for this, Jen. I haven’t actually watched the episode yet, but intentionally let some spoilers through when I got a whiff of what happened. I’m torn with the same question you raised: is this going to ruin the show for me? I’m not sure Downton has earned my trust in dealing with these kinds of big issues in the past, and so I’m not sure if I want to keep it in my life. Maybe I’ll hold out another week and read your review…see which way the wind is blowing before I make a decision.

  • Karen Hugg Says:

    Thanks, Jen, for saying this. I’m so tired of television series writers using rape as a dramatic device when a show slows down. I heard you talking about Treme on TBTL the other day and it made me realize that Treme, a show I also love, threw in the rape of LaDonna last season seemingly for no other reason than the finding-her-brother storyline finished. It really disappointed me. The Sopranos also did this with Dr. Melfi. And you or I could probably name a bunch of other shows if we thought about it.

    Anyway, rape is such a serious issue that I feel like it’s degrading to women to toss around the issue on all of these shows — not to mention what true rape victims must feel. Are we supposed to sit through the rest of Downton Abbey this season knowing Anna will never get justice because that’s what really happened back in that day?

    Sorry to sound bitter but thanks for voicing the issue.

  • Kris Says:

    How is it that you can so succinctly sum up what I’m feeling? I couldn’t agree more, and I’m so bummed. This is my favorite show, and now, because of the rape story line, I’m not sure I even want to watch. I definitely will, but with some nervousness.

  • April in Tenver Says:

    Agreed! I’m not typically timid when it comes to violence in entertainment. I don’t seek it out, but I’m usually not completely disturbed by it. I recently discovered rape is the exception.

    The first time I was disturbed by this was in Mad Men when (SPOILER) Joan was raped by her future husband. Yes, I know this is realistic and it happens and should be disturbing, but it upset me deeply. I felt the same with this episode of Downton. I kept yelling at the screen, “No, no, no.” I guess I don’t want my escapism marred by realism. I mean, the distance of these shows in another place and time makes it easy to not think about the other bad things happening as real (Kennedy and MLK assassinations / Civil Rights movement in Mad Men, WWI in Downton).

    I just realized I found the car crash disturbing in Downton, too. I guess because these things could actually happen to me, they’re more upsetting.

    My fiance isn’t phased by the rape scenes- maybe because it’s not as much of a potential threat to him like it is to me. Anyway, I could do without this story line.