The final season of Downton has hit the airwaves here in the US, and judging by my Facebook newsfeed, we are enamored (albeit a little melancholy that this will be its final run). Sure enough, the premiere of Season 6 did not disappoint, though the hour flew by much too quickly leaving me wanting more. I suppose that is the hallmark of a good show, though, right?
As I sat in bed wide awake at 4:30 am after snuggles with the schoolgirl who was up way too early, I hopped on Facebook to see more reactions to Downton from the western time zones. It seems Downton has our hearts. Why?
As I lay here on the edge of consciousness it occurred to me how different Downton really is. In a world of Kardashians and "reality" TV, quick laughs, and cheap thrills, the pomp and circumstance of the Granthams draws us in to its beauty and grandeur. It reminds us of a time, however flawed by its social inequities, when honor and dignity were not forgotten. It draws us in to the goodness that exists even in the murkiness of scandal and injustice. It woos us with a reminder of what entertainment there is in witty dialogue, and befriends us much like our favorite novels come to life. I can't be the only one who waits in anticipation for the next great quip by the Dowager, right?
Downton doesn't solve the problems of our times. It doesn't even hide the problems of theirs, really. We love it because it points us to greater truths about ourselves - the darkness and redemption of the human heart, the struggle and joys of learning to love and live well, the hope of overcoming our greatest foibles, our thirst for justice and equality among us. I mean who doesn't want a season where Anna and Bates can finally live in peace?
Certainly, in many ways, Downton provides us an escape from the current times. Yet, the beauty of the show is that it doesn't simply ignore serious issues. We have seen the characters we love (and love to hate) deal with issues of class, religion, sexuality, gender roles, grief and loss. Through all of this, it seems that there have never been very clear cut answers, but as they muddle through trying to learn from it all, the characters for the most part have never evaded the responsibility of their decisions or glossed over the gravity of serious circumstances. Yet, in the end, life seems to go on, just as it does for us.
I suppose all that is left now is to enjoy the remaining episodes and wait to complete our own home collection of Downton Abbey so it can live on whenever we are in need of a fix. Grab your tea and scones and let me know if you will be joining us!