In the past five days I’ve downed nearly two seasons of Downton Abbey. It’s been a bit of a binge, really. Sort of glutenous of me to see in short order what millions of television viewers have watched over two years.
And as if eating a whole pie in one sitting, I began to feel ill.
Season 1 set up all the characters, showed us the good guys, the evil and dark souls, revealed the rivalries, the love interests. It was filled with intrigue, twists, a bit of frivolity. Maggie Smith’s character, the Dowager, kept a very tight line between her class and the servants. It was fascinating to see the story unfold.
Season 2 centered around World War 1 and while we were spared the level of
detail of a Leaving Private Ryan, we learned very well the pain of war. Loved ones died in France, fiancés came back broken, William returned only to soon die but after marrying his beloved Daisy. Downton was turned into a convalescent home. A major hooked up with a housemaid and left her with a child, Patrick or Peter returned disfigured. There was so much more. Almost too much to digest in three hours last evening. But I kept going.
Lady Clare nearly died and it so pained her maid O’Brien to watch because of the later’s unspoken crime against her mistress. Lord Grantham – how could you? – kissed one of the maids (yes, I can see why you were disheartened with your wife’s negativity but you seemed above such indiscretions). Sir Richard not only chastised Lady Mary but threatened to expose her should she ever cross him. Spanish flu took Lavinia and at the cemetery Matthew told Mary it had to be over between them. The intrigue was still there so I kept watching, even though I was pained.
We do that, don’t we. Watch with interest as human tragedy unfolds before our eyes. That’s why the news is so popular. Why realty tv thrives. We watch in disbelief, secretly grateful that our lives aren’t that bad. We also watch because we are all the same and it’s a thin line that separates our joy from utter sorrow.
True, Downton Abbey is far from realty tv but when you take all the drama of two seasons in five consecutive evenings, it’s a bit much.
What really turned my stomach was seeing Bates arrested for allegedly poisoning his rat of a wife. The cloud over his head is almost too much for me.
But we know people like that, don’t we, who seem to be in shrouded with a black cloud. I can support such souls mentally, spiritually surrounding them in light but I must keep my distance so as not to be drained of my own spirit.
So last night as I turned off episode 8 and set up S2E9 for viewing this evening, I began to see the merits of taking Downton a bite at a time.
In my desire to get caught up, I made myself sick.