Dear “Downton Abbey” (January 20)

Dear Downton Abbey,

I hope you’re doing all right.  No, really, I hope you’re doing all right.  What’s going on?  You seem somewhat off.  You’re not acting like yourself.  The super HD camera is out of control!  It’s making it look like the cinematographer was replaced by someone with a few blinding lamps.  Also, you’re relying on dramatic background music 10x’s as much as you used to.  Why?

Last week, my heart broke for Anna.  What a horrible thing to watch such a wonderful person experience.  This week, however, you really ignored her.  I hardly got to see her, and when I did see her she was kind of exhausting.  She just walked around looking like she was about to collapse and every time someone asked her, “Hey, why does it look like you’re about to collapse?” she acted even more distraught.  Anna is smart — she must know she’s being obvious, right?  So then tell your husband, Anna.  Just tell him.  You can’t go on forever walking around like you’re about to collapse and expect no one to notice.  Oh, God, and you’re even moving out of your house!  C’mon.  Tell Your Husband.  He already knows something is up, and you know he knows it.

I blame you, though, Downton.  I realize Anna is a raw nerve right now, but you’re not giving her much opportunity to be complex.  People who are struggling try to act like they’re not struggling, and Anna did that all throughout the previous three seasons.  This time, she’s obvious.

Wait, wait wait wait wait!  Now, wait a second.  Listen.  I’m not saying that what happened to her last week wasn’t screwed up, because it was.  It was hideous.    It was nightmarish.  It made me cry.  But Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates) is a great actress.  I think that she is more than capable of portraying multiple emotions.  Anna shouldn’t just be walking around with a frightened expression saying, “Leave me alone I’m fine.”  It’s just too easy. 

Thank you, though, for giving her one good scene.  When she finally breaks down to Mrs. Hughes and tells her she doesn’t want her husband to touch her because she feels dirty…that was actually good.  More of that, please.  That turmoil came across as very real.

To change the subject, Downton, I have to tell you that I’m very, very disappointed in Branson.  I thought that I’d hear him say, “I don’t remember anything that happened.  Why did I wake up with no pants on?”  Instead I heard him say, “I blush to say it, but I was very, very drunk.”  Shit, Downton.  No one in that entire damn house ever mentions Sybil except for Branson (which is messed up, to say the least), and then he goes and lets the maid with crazy eyes crawl into his bed?  And he puts it in?  Downton, you better make him atone for that.  I don’t mean kill him!  I don’t mean that.  I just mean that this should be an opportunity to have Branson sit down and think about what the hell he’s actually doing with his life.  Does he want to leave?  Then let him leave.  Does he want to find a smart, interesting, worthy partner?  Let him go find one.  Does he want to devote his life to being an incredible father?  Then include at least a few scenes now and again where he’s holding his damn daughter (and while you’re at it, maybe remind us from time to time that Lady Mary is a mother).  Oh, and Geez, whatever happened to him being a socialist revolutionary?  He used to be so exciting and interesting!  Don’t let his entire huge storyline this season be “The Time He Put It in The Maid with Crazy Eyes and Then Mrs. Hughes Saved His Ass.”  Don’t let it be as easy as having Mrs. Hughes find a copy of The Art of Douching and sending Crazy Eyes away.  Seriously.  Lord and Lady Grantham may have forgotten about their youngest daughter, but I haven’t.

Speaking of Lord and Lady Grantham’s unrivaled ability to move passed the horrific deaths of their loved ones, I absolutely hated hearing them talk about how they wanted Lady Mary to hook up with Sir Pitiful.  Okay, that’s not his name, but you must know who I mean.  The guy!  They guy who had three conversations with Lady Mary and then asked her to marry him!  Oh, God, and when she acted taken aback by the whole display and he was like, “I’ll wait a month, a year, two years — just promise me you’ll spend the rest of your life with me!”  UGH.  I cringed.  Dude.  Too pitiful.  Completely un-sexy.  Utterly creepy.  I love that Mary straight up told him she wasn’t over the death of her husband, whom she loved very, very much.  Cuz, ya know.  He died less than a year ago.  How come no one seems to remember that except Lady Mary and Cousin Isobel?  Everyone else is all, “Oh, my.  Look at Lady Mary talking to Sir Pitiful for the first time since they met that one time when they were children.  They are most definitely going to get married right now and that is absolutely normal.”  That makes me really, really mad. 

And speaking of Cousin Isobel, my hat goes off to her for that phenomenal display of inimitable politeness during a moment of profound vulnerability.  No one around her cares that Matthew is gone.  No one around her cares that it breaks her heart how much everyone wants Lady Mary to forget about Matthew and marry Lord Pitiful.  But what does cousin Isobel do?  Shakes his hand and tells him she hopes to see him again.  Her voice is weak.  She’s nervous.  And she pulls through.  BRAVO.  Ya know what was great about that moment?  The portrayal of multiple emotions.  Complexity.  Profound vulnerability combined with arduous dedication to graciousness.  Again, bravo for the only real moment. 

Downton, of course I’ll see you next week.  Just work on all this, ok?  Let these people be real people and have real emotions and react to things the way human-beings react.  Ok? 

Also, more Maggie Smith.  You’re seriously lagging on that.

See ya.




2 thoughts on “Dear “Downton Abbey” (January 20)

  1. Ellanee says:

    Spot on on all fronts! I’m glad you’re putting some blame on Branson.
    After rewatching episodes from past seasons, I also think these characters in general are very quick to say “I love you.” I felt so weird when Pitiful said it. I also felt weird when Mary had said it to Matthew for the first time. I dunno. We will see what’s to come.
    Also, Jeff totally would have never let the thing Anna is doing fly! She’s so obvious and it’s ridiculous!

    • The Anna thing. My Goodness. I really respected Bates for saying, “Look. You’re gonna have to tell me what’s up eventually because you’re not fooling anyone.” I’m not at all suggesting that Anna should already be over it, but I think that the actress is capable of a lot more than walking around looking like she’s gonna puke and then acting all surprised when people ask her what’s wrong. I think that the scene where Lord and Lady Grantham notice she’s behaving and she makes a little joke to ease the tension was actually pretty good. She was making an actual effort to diffuse the situation instead of bringing more attention to it.

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