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Downton Abbey

 
The U.K. Version

 

There's a moment in every episode of Downton Abbey where one of the characters say something that reveals something profound about themselves. For example, from the very first episode Carson, the butler, is talking with the head housekeeper, Mrs Hughes. They talk about how the owners of the estate in which they live and work, are under threat, and their exchange goes like this:

MRS HUGHES
You mustn't take it personally.

MR CARSON
Oh, I do take it personally, Mrs Hughes. I can't stand by and watch our family threatened with the loss of all they hold dear.

MRS HUGHES (chuckles)
They're not our family.

MR CARSON
Well, they're all the family I've got.


[Mrs Hughes is surprised and humbled by his sharp sincerity.]

MR CARSON
(Apologetically) I beg your pardon.

MRS HUGHES
Do you...ever wish you'd...gone another way?


[Carson looks up sharply.]

MRS HUGHES continues...
Worked in a shop or a factory? Had a wife and children?

MR CARSON
Do you?

MRS HUGHES
I don't know. Maybe. Sometimes.

[Someone knocks at the door.]

The look that Mr. Carson gave Mrs. Hughes, said more than his mere words. When he said "They're all the family I've got." it showed a vulnerability that was obviously seldom let out by Mr. Carson.

Then, Mrs. Hughes comes in with a question about regret, a question that we've all asked ourselves at some point, only to be interrupted (as it often goes, in this show) by a door knock. Leaving the viewer wanting to hear them go on about things that we ourselves find difficult to talk about.

The show does this with matters of love, yearning for another, family frustration. And, it reveals how — despite that life at Downton Abbey, 1912 may as well be science fiction — Since, we couldn't live during a time when electricity and the telephone were barely making their way into the best of houses. But, despite the difference in our technological circumstances, and social etiquette, we're still repressed by just as many social rules ourselves.

In closing, should you ever find yourself entertaining the show. You'll probably also notice these seemingly singular moments in each episode, where one of the characters states or asks something so profound, awe striking, or reveals something so intimate about themselves, in a social climate where everyone is usually guarded. And, as I mentioned, we're not all that different today, we just spin the things that we need repress in our social circles differently.


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