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Monday, January 28, 2013

Julian Fellowes is not just elitist, but an appallingly retrograde sexist, too.
Posted by Jill | 8:51 PM
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't watched Sunday night's episode of Downton Abbey, wait to read the below until you do.

Really, Julian? I mean really? Seriously?

After I've spent nearly a half-season steeling myself for the moment when Matthew tires of Lord Grantham, who in Season 3 has turned into the biggest asshole in the countryside, hits him over the head with the candlestick in the library with the help of Colonel Mustard and is then murdered in prison by Bates' roommate, thereby freeing Dan Stevens to, I don't know, perhaps take over the role of Elder Price in The Book of Mormon, THIS is what you do? I mean we knew that Dan Stevens had tired of wearing a tuxedo all the time and was moving on after this season, so whether he is killed off or goes off to play a footman in a musical review, it will be anticlimactic anyway.

We'd even heard rumblings that Maggie Smith had had quite enough of the Dowager Countess, though Cousin Violet may be the best role Smith has had in her entire career, and while the costumes are unwieldy, how could anyone give up a role where you get lines like these:

But from what I hear, old Maggie can be a bit cranky, so I just figured that the Dowager Countess would be keeling over any minute.

But Sibyl? The lovely Sibyl, she of the harem pants and the sweet disposition and the adorable mini-baby-bump? Sibyl, the heart and soul of the Grantham family -- the only one of the three Grantham sisters that one might actually want to know in real life?

Julian, how could you? And in CHILDBIRTH no less? Is this what you think well-born ladies who marry below their class deserve? A gruesome death from eclampsia? At least the unfortunate Lavinia Swire got to expire prettily at the end of Series 2 in a mist from a partcularly generous spray bottle with nothing seemingly amiss but a lack of mascara.

I've put up with a lot of hooey from you. No suspension of disbelief is enough to compensate for Matthew's miraculous recovery from his manhood-ending war injury, or of O'Brien's nefarious architecting of miscarriage-by-soap, or Lavinia's father leaving all his money to Matthew because even though he treated old Reg's daughter so shabbily, he's a good chap who deserves to be left a fortune anyway. I've also put up with a lot of how you've treated your women characters, aside from the Great Dowager. Poor Edith. I mean, Edith hasn't always been the nicest person; after all, writing the Turkish Ambassador to regale him with the details of his son's demise from Mary the Ice Princess' obviously-not-icy nether quarters. But to have her jilted at the altar was just plain cruel. To leave the lovely Anna moping around for half a season, playing a kind of downstairs Debra Morgan? Can O'Brien really be that evil? And poor Daisy...can't you give the poor dumb girl a LITTLE happiness? At least you haven't killed off Mrs. Hughes...yet. Mary is a cold bitch, Edith is both pathetic and loathsome, Cora is shallow, and Mrs. Crawley is a right-wing caricature of a bleeding heart liberal.

But through it all, there was Sibyl. Beautiful, kind Sibyl, who was even nice to that awful Thomas, and who, give her fifty years or so, would have marched with him at a gay rights parade. Lovely Sibyl, who followed her heart and married the fiery Irish chauffeur, risking her father's wrath for love. And that's where you fell into loathsomeness, Julian. Because in making the wages of sin death as punishment for Sibyl's refusal to adhere to the mores of her class, you showed yourself to be not just classist, but sexist as hell.

I hope Edith takes up wearing trousers and smoking cigars -- just to piss you off. And don't you DARE start getting ideas that she should marry Branson. She's just gotten some meaning to her life, don't you go getting all Henry VIII on her ass.

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Blogger Patricia said...
It wasn't just classist or sexist, it was racist. After all, lovely Sibyl chose to marry an Irish man. Fresh out of the "starving times". Julian allowed Branson to live another day. Perhaps, to torture him on another occasion. Sibyl paid a high price to be with an Irishman, or she moved on to greener pastures... with a nice movie part or TV show. Slainte!

Blogger PurpleGirl said...
What has disappointed me quite a bit this series -- along with the various points you made, and all good at that -- is that Shirley Maclaine was only in one episode. And she didn't seem very fire-eating at all in her comments to the Dowager Countess.

Anonymous Syrbal/Labrys said...
I had heard so much about this show that finally watched it, after all, I must knit to SOMETHING. And yes, appalling it is; had to kill of Sibyl, silly girl in favor of sufferage and all that.

The vast appeal of these shows always staggers me; the "noble" servants, holding up their delicate and slightly dotty masters and all. American GOP wet dreams, these shows, if you ask me.

Blogger The New York Crank said...
A soap opera with an English accent is still a soap opera. Harrumph!

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crnk