Love, Self

9 Reasons Why People Love Downton Abbey

Reasons Why People Love Downton Abbey

Why is it that anywhere we go, people are talking about the British TV series Downton Abbey?

From a psychological point of view, Downton Abbey offers many more sophisticated stimuli than the American audience is used to, not only in entertainment but in life itself. Here is a list of several factors enhancing the popularity of the show.

1. It is a welcome antidote to the cheapening of relationships seen on "reality TV." Social protocols of the current age have changed so much from the World War I era of Downton Abbey. There is a fascination with how things were two or three generations ago that enthralls many people. Many of us are watching a show depicting what our grand-, great-grand- or great-great-grandparents experienced in terms of social convention. The rules of relationships are fascinating and often inspiring. As viewers attracted to the show, this may reveal a longing to be slightly more formal in our own relationships. It certainly provides a welcome antidote to most of the relationships we see on reality TV.

2. The fashion of the time inspires ornate modesty. The lords and ladies of Downton Abbey wear beautiful outfits in styles we may only have seen in family photos or even paintings depicting weddings from long ago. This is visually striking to us. Breathtaking beauty can be sexually modest and Downton Abbey serves as a fascinating and perhaps very important reminder of this.

3. Visually, the setting of Downton Abbey itself and the classical styles of the time were much more sophisticated. The modern brain's visual cortex is used to complex stimuli though today we don't often see it on walls, carpets, pitchers, dresses, furniture, windows, etc. The Downton Abbey estate itself is a feast for the senses when contrasted with our relatively stark environmental, personal fashion and home furnishing styles.

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4. There is a nostalgia for the news and technology development of the time. Downton Abbey introduces a very personal context to the dawn of the modern industrial age, the development of electricity and automobiles, women's liberation, emerging economic and social class rebalancing, the sinking of the Titanic, World War I and the Irish-British conflicts. Our previous generations lived through this stuff.

5. The subtle dialogue and body language is so sophisticated, by comparison with most American entertainment, that the viewer is forced to pay attention. Downton Abbey demands the viewer's attention because nothing can be missed. My wife gets credit for this one. She noticed how an affair was telegraphed three episodes before it occurred by one subtle glance which occurred over a split second. We also find ourselves constantly rewinding to hear dialogue we may have spoken over because each word seems so important.

6. It incorporates "lifestyles of the rich and famous." People are always fascinated with the lifestyles of the upper class and there is a strong element of that in Downton Abbey.

7. As a counterpoint, it shows the struggle of the working class at the time.  The working class people in Downton Abbey are fully fleshed-out characters, not the stereotypes seen in so many other shows depicting the working class. All characters are portrayed sympathetically to a very great degree.

8. There is a small number of episodes per season. The typical television season has been reducing itself over the decades. There was a time when a TV show may have had up to 28 episodes per season. Now, most shows average between 10 and 15 episodes.  Downton Abbey's first season had seven and its second season had nine. This whets the appetite for more and it all seems very precious.

Even most villains in Downton Abbey become likable.  The characterizations are so complex that even the people you are sure to be rotten through and through show their humanity.  By the end of the first season, many of your least favorite characters to start become your heroes.  This points to amazing plot development as well as wonderful acting.

9. The classical music changes with the plot. Americans do not hear beautiful classical music scores for viewing entertainment, unless a movie is produced with all the accoutrements of a multimillion dollar investment. Downton Abbey's music is key because with many new plots, a new musical theme is introduced. This shows a remarkable amount of thought put into production of the show.

What are the factors that have you enthralled with Downton Abbey? Please share your comments.