Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Downton Abbey Critique

I haven't written a post like this in a long time, but after watching Downton Abbey this past Sunday night I had some thoughts that I would like to get out into the blogosphere, and, hopefully, influence some for good.

We sat down as a family to watch Downton Abbey. We have only let the boys watch one other episode, and even after that episode we had some situations and actions to talk about. Themes like courage, deception, etc. come to mind. This episode that we watched on Sunday had themes that I don't even feel like I can address with my little kids; in fact, we had to have them turn their heads a few times, which, although a time honored tradition among parents, is not, as it turns out, for us. In short, I think we (I) made a dreadful mistake letting the boys watch that episode, and now I think it is time to go back to our almost no TV or movies policy with them. We don't see any reason to expose them to trash at this age when we are still working on teaching them what is right.

Downton Abbey was very disappointing to me. People I had heretofore considered fairly upstanding took a dreadful turn for the immoral, and indeed, it made me recall little warning signs that had been presented earlier. I'll only mention a few of the characters.

Lord Grantham.....

He originally married for money but came to love his wife. However, when they disagreed about something, whether or not to fight the entail, who Mary should be pushed to marry, etc., he was very quick to turn against his wife. His disagreements with his wife led him eventually to be unfaithful to her. He kissed a maid. Lord Grantham did take precautions, finally, that he may not actually have sex with the maid by essentially asking her to leave, which she also was planning to do, but oh, how he wanted to.

The Dowager Lady Grantham.....

She values family above all else, even the rule of law and others' feelings. She called Lavinia's death her last 'gift to us.' She is always scheming. She is utterly prideful.

Lady Mary.....

Promiscuous, but regretful. Was she regretful because she was found out? I believe so. Although she seemed to respect Lavinia's claim on Matthew for a few episodes, in the end she kissed him. She also waffled back and forth about accepting Matthew's proposal because she wanted to be sure he was going to be rich first. She would be a great heroine for a book called Persuasion: Downton Abbey.

Lady Sybil.....

I had really liked her. I do still like her. But she who I assumed was so wonderful-- a nurse, kind, etc., was really rebellious. She wanted her own way and she insisted on it, regardless of what her father- her head- directed her to do. The Bible tells us to obey the authorities over us even if they are unreasonable, and while her family certainly was unreasonable, her father was still her head and she should have obeyed him. She was into politics, but she pursued them knowing her father didn't want her to. Indeed, she lied to him about where she was going. Then this week she told him she as going to marry who she wanted regardless if what he wanted. That is pure rebellion.

Thomas....

He sure got his just desserts! He decided to break the law and begin dealing on the black market, and he got cheated. He is another character who is always scheming, against William, Carson, Bates, etc.. He is not admirable in the slightest.


This show is beautifully presented and certainly is interesting. Just like other shows, though, it wraps sin up into a pretty package and gets us rooting for the sin to actually happen before we even realize it. Which of us wanted Lavinia to get to marry Matthew? I bet most of us wanted something to happen so that Matthew and Mary could be together after all, no matter how Lavinia or the other dude (Mary's fiancé) was hurt in the process. I bet most people were anxiously waiting for Mrs. Bates to exit, one way or another, so pretty little Anna could have her happiness. We should have been hoping Mr. Bates would be faithful to his wife, no matter how scandalous she was. And Anna is presented as a truly sweet maid, and yet, she flat out offered herself up as a mistress to Mr. Bates!

While I will not, at this juncture in my life, commit to stop watching shows like Downton Abbey, it is definitely something to consider. How much of a hypocrite does that make me?? It feels like it makes me quite a terrible hypocrite. We all have the lines we draw for ourselves regarding what we will watch or read. Perhaps it is time to reassess them according to the guidelines in Scripture instead of allowing ourselves to be sucked into worldy theology simply because something is wrapped up in a nice package with pretty cinematography and beautiful music.

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