Tales from the Motherhood: It’s flu season, but I caught the ‘Downton Abbey’ bug

Published: Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 5:15 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 11:42 a.m. CDT
Caption
(PBS.org photo)
“Downton Abbey” is a British period drama television series that depicts the lives of an aristocratic family and its servants. The series is set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey.

Wow, who knew “Downton Abbey” would be so addicting?

Sure, I’d heard the buzz about the now two-year-old award-winning PBS show that follows an aristocratic English family and its servants – a series starring the amazing Maggie Smith that some compare to the old “Upstairs Downstairs” (originally aired by BBC and PBS during the 1970s). I love historical fiction – particularly those set in the early 1900s. But I had no idea this would be so delicious a feast until last weekend, when I finally got around to watching episode one of season one.

I mentioned my new fascination on Facebook and my friend Sarah commented, “OMG – I’m so obsessed! I have the first two seasons on DVD if you need to borrow!” but I’d already caved and bought the DVD’s.

My other friends are thrilled I’m in the loop, now, too. Kristin suggested I do a marathon session of seasons one and two so I can watch season three along with everyone else, and Colleen told me to make sure I watch the episodes in order.

“So much happens in every episode, you can’t miss a single one!” she cautioned. You’ll be happy to know that I followed your advice to the letter, ladies.

I cannot believe how juicy and honest this series is and how much I’ve come to adore these well-developed characters – even the scurrilous ones.

I watched the first two episodes alone, but enough comments like my, “He didn’t really say that!” and “Oh man!” And “That awesome scene between Thomas and what’s-his-name in episode one? Scandalous!” drew Holly in, and before long, she was hooked, too.

“Oh no she didn’t!” she commented during a particularly tense scene, as she wagged her finger at the TV.

Holly cracks me up. Don’t worry, she missed the most scandalous scene thus far as she didn’t tune in until episode three, but I explained the pertinent details so she doesn’t get lost. I’ve done a lot of explaining since then, about historical events referenced in the series – like the sinking of the Titanic and World War I, along with information about various period-related customs of English aristocracy. Issues related to women’s roles and rights have been particularly thought-provoking for my nearly 12-year-old daughter, and I’m relishing the conversations they’ve inspired.

Noah, who’s been sick with the flu and mostly sacked-out beside me all week, has watched, by default, more “Downton Abbey” than perhaps he’d care for me to admit, helpless as he’s been to do much more than tune-out by putting in his ear-buds. His presence has been critical to our viewing success, however, as he figured out how to make our old DVD player work. Suffice it to say that the thing is now being held it together with duct-tape, because one thingy broke off inside another thingy, but it does the job.

We’ve got a new “thing” now, too. Every time a new episode begins and we hear the “Downton Abbey” theme song, Holly and I hum it loudly and wildly out of tune. Also, you know how in one of the opening scenes a disembodied maid reaches up to clean a chandelier with a black feather-duster? We can’t help but shriek in mock-hysteria every time we see it because it looks – to us – like an enormous cat-paw looming over the chandelier. But then again, we’re probably sick, too. It can’t be helped. We’ve caught the “Downton Abbey” bug.

In fact, I often catch Holly humming the theme song. She didn’t appreciate it when I accused her of being addicted to “Downton,” however.

“I am not an attic!” she retorted, lunging at me with a pillow, and then another lesson commenced. This time, about the distinction between “attic” and “addict.” 

“The ‘attic’ is where the servants live, and you and I are ‘addicts,'” I explained, as we fell apart in a heap of giggles. The upside to our addiction? Apparently inspired by Downton’s  ladies’ maids, Holly spent last Sunday morning braiding and re-braiding my hair, fluffing my pillows and making my bed. I could get used to this.

But we’re out of episodes; season three just started last month and I cannot locate PBS in my cable-provider’s lineup of channels.

Ack! What’s up with that? I must right that wrong. I discovered that I can watch the newest episodes online at PBS.org, however, if need be. And need be, since I’m too impatient to place another order for another DVD and cold days like these are made for curling up with a blanket and escaping into a great story.

“Downton Abbey” is, indeed, a great story. Even Noah conceded that “the cinematography’s awesome.” True, that, but maybe, just maybe, he’s hooked, too.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at jenniferdubose@msn.com.

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