Downton Abbey: Worth watching a fifth season of drama?

Nathan Fisher


Illustration by Sophie Cooper-Ellis.

This past week marked the UK return of every college student’s favorite TV show, “Downton Abbey.” You know, the classic British Masterpiece series shown on PBS, and one of the most watched drama series in the world? Okay, most 18 to 20ish year olds are not diehard fans of “Downton Abbey”. Even I considered it too highbrow and stuffy to watch. Last winter break I decided to “sophisticate myself” (the bar is pretty low), and borrowed the first three seasons from some family friends who are closer to the usual PBS intellectual demographic. Incase you were considering hunkering down and immersing yourself in British life, the rest of this article contains spoilers and content through the first few episodes of the fourth season.

My binge-watching of “Downton Abbey” got off to a slow start. The first few episodes were boring and dull. The Crawleys, aristocratic inhabitants of the Yorkshire estate called Downton Abbey, were a bunch of self-absorbed elitists who were dealing with the shocking news that the estate’s heir just died on the Titanic. The only reason I kept watching was because Maggie Smith’s (Professor McGonagall in “Harry Potter”) character was a caustic spitfire who hurled the best insults at her fellow elites. Eventually I got hooked on the relationships brewing at the Abbey, and the drama, Drama, DRAMA!! Yes, scandal, love, money troubles and war affects everyone in England, especially the rich Crawley family and their butlers, maids, cooks and workers who keep their little secrets.

I became a loyal fan and stayed current with “Downton Abbey” through the first two episodes of the fourth season, but missed the third episode. After checking out an online summary of the episode I missed, I was horrified to learn that the sweetest and kindest character was raped. Eight months have passed and I still have not watched that episode or anymore of the show. My sudden detachment from “Downton Abbey” stems from the very drama that made me love it. All television shows, especially dramas, have their ups and downs, and tend to make certain characters have “issues.” Usually, however, after a character suffers a personal disaster or crisis, a ray of hope appears and their world seems to jump back on track. Not so with the “Downton Abbey” clan. After sitting through death after death, scorned love, marriage of convenience, unwanted engagements, and money woes, the brutal rape crossed the line of entertaining drama for me, and I quit watching “Downton Abbey.”

The fifth season of “Downton Abbey” will be broadcasted in the United States in January, and I hope to convince myself that the incredible acting and storylines are worth watching some of my favorite characters get hurt. Until then, I am willing to lose my “sophisticated” viewing and will substitute “Downton Abbey” with less depressing shows like “Gotham” or “How to Get Away with Murder.” Sorry Crawleys, I am afraid the overload of negativity and unnecessary hurt may have lost you yet another member of your family, me.