Downton Abbey, a few questions

January 29, 2014 | 3 Comments

As a latecomer to the Abbey I have been indulging in some serious binge-watching.  Night after night of Downton immersion has left me with a few nagging questions.  I assume someone, somewhere knows the answers to these.  (Attention! Spoiler alerts! Do not read this if you are still in the halcyon haze of season 1.)


Tea consumption

Even the Americans drink tea at Downton

Really?  Do people really drink this much tea?  No scene is complete without preparing, presenting, inviting to or sipping upon tea.  In my estimate 42-76% of the dialogue is delivered with a teacup en route to the lips.  Then there is the manner in which a tea cup is placed onto a saucer which can communicate irritation, anger, barely contained contempt and amusement.  Apparently the china speaks in ways that the buttoned up aristocracy cannot.  On a side note: Is it safe to drink this much tea?   Does it, at some point, disrupt your kidneys or endocrine system?   Or is tea the magic elixir that gives everyone such damn perfect posture?


Who are these sadistic writers?

You monsters! How dare you?

First Sybil and then Matthew?  Are they going to kill or brutalize everyone we care about?   At this point, I feel like I have to adopt the protective shell I don when watching The Walking Dead and just assume that everyone is going to die sooner rather than later.  The only consolation, of course, is that much like James Dean, the characters from Downton Abby will die young and leave  a trail of good-looking corpses. [1]


Lost.  In need of translation.

"Just so you know, the grumphflgust is near the chisifinfelt."

"Just so you know, the grumphflgust is near the chisifinfelt."

Did anyone understand any of the dialogue from the Mr. Bates prison scenes?  I have to doubt whether the English themselves could understand these whispered , dim and heavily accented exchanges.  After repeated rewindings and relistening, I finally just resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to take the broad brush attitude with this particular plot line.  That is, Prison=bad, Mr. Bates=good; Mrs. Bates=bad, Anna=good.



Weather, explained.

"It's raining because my heart is weeping, Mother."

Being from California, I don’t know much about rain, but I have always assumed that the rain in England had something to do with its geography or the jet stream.  From watching Downton, though, I’ve learned rain, it turns out, is totally contingent upon your emotional state and activities.  Wedding?  County fair?  Garden party? Sun.  Funeral?  Visiting grave site?  On the run from the law? Rain.  Perhaps this is where we in California have gone wrong. Maybe if more of us spent time staring beseechingly at graves we could break this drought.


Answers?  Feel free to leave them below.

[1] Also- fewer entrails

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim January 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Great post!!!


Nancy January 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Fun things to think about, Kelly! My 2.5 yo loves DA and for a while it was the only thing he’d watch. He studies it intently! That said, I have in turn watched/heard the episodes over and over…more times than I’d like to admit.

My two cents on your concerns… : )

Tea consumption…Yes, I think they really did/do drink that much tea. I’m no authority by any means but I did stay in London for 6 weeks in my 20s and tea was just a regular and frequent occurrence in your day. I’m not sure how potent it was back then as I watch them dribble warm water over loose leaf and there is very little “timed steeping” involved.

Sadistic Writers…They are at the mercy of expiring actor contracts. At least that was the case for Matthew. They were all locked in to 3 seasons and he chose not to renew his (wanted to move on to other projects). Sybil, I don’t know anything about. She was pretty and sweet but the actress a had a weird eye wandering problem (almost like when infants on camera stare at the mic overhead…she had a really difficult time looking the other actors in the eye during scenes). It was painful to watch so I do not really miss her. :/

Bates Prison Dialogue…HA!! I was laughing at that one as I could totally relate. It was always very dark and scary so I would skip over those parts for my son’s sake. After all the repeat viewings I guess I just gathered enough of the gist to accept the storyline.

Weather…I think it’s a classic film technique to use weather and seasons to illustrate the emotional temperature of the plot. Pretty sure all of that is built into the script and quite intentional. However, I think about the effort and timing and planning involved in trying to schedule those scenes! Phew! Impressive, indeed.

(My friend Andrea Hansen forwarded this post to me. Glad to make your “interwebs” acquaintance!)


kelly January 31, 2014 at 7:59 am

I love it that your son is into that show! My kids haven’t watched me with it yet, mostly because that’s my time to zone out, and I know I would have to be continually explaining things to them. They do, however, watch TLC’s “What Not to Wear” and have since been heartlessly critiquing my outfits.


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