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Battle joined over Downton Abbey

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British historian Simon Schama says that 'Downton serves up a steaming, silvered tureen of snobbery' and the reason that Americans have fallen in love with the Abbey's British aristocrats is that they're desperate to take their minds off current events.

We certainly have plenty to take our minds off of. (But we are not taking our minds off internet censorship, the latest appalling idea advanced by the U.S. Congress.)

Given that the show is being screened on PBS, many Americans won't be watching. Many middle class liberal Americans will be (they are the biggest supporters of the very liberal PBS).

Still, one conservative American, Mona Charen, has been watching Downton Abbey, and she responded today to Schama with a different point of view:

'As Schama acknowledges, the series is “fabulously frocked and acted.” The sets are gorgeous, the actors stunning, the costumes dazzling, and the story captivating. It isn’t great literature. It’s melodrama, with clear villains and heroes, with boy meets girl, girl loses inheritance, girl loses boy, misunderstandings, sex scandals, blackmail, sibling rivalry, lost opportunities, jealousies, lies, flower shows, and war. . .

'. . .In Downton Abbey as in Upstairs, Downstairs some of the noblest characters are to be found below stairs. Bates, the earl’s valet, is partially lame from a wound sustained in the Boer War. He bears his disability — along with the cruelty of two of the other servants — with fortitude. His quiet integrity and long suffering seem to be rewarded by the love of a lady’s maid, Anna. . .

'We Americans have not fallen into a swoon for dead British aristocrats. . .We’re simply enjoying a good yarn, beautifully executed.'

And if liberals secretly want to be British aristocrats, what can you do?

By the way, Mona Charen's entire family loved Simon Schama's History of Britain.


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