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Fundies and "Downton Abbey"


YPestis

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I started watching Downton Abbey (DA) a few weeks ago after hearing so much good stuff about it. I was hooked after the first episode. For those that haven't heard of the show, it's a TV period piece set in 1912 (and onwards) covering the the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants. It's so different because the characters are all likeable and they follow the (very strict) morals of that time period in their storylines. The plot focuses on the characters navigating through the social changes of the 1910's and 1920's. It's hardly historically accurate in the sense that it's an idealized version of aristocratic life.

I remember my surprise when a fundie-lite lady posted how she loved this show until she came upon a gay scene (one of the character is gay) which pissed her off. I realized, aside from the gay storyline (which is discreet), the storylines are probably unoffensive to the few fundies who still watch TV.

I imagine the aristocratic family's lifestyle is what Botkins/VF people believe is how they would have lived in that time period. The lifestyle portrayed idealizes the relationship between the Earl's family and their servants. Fundies, from what they've said about slavery, idealizes the servant-master relationship. Downton Abbey does this too as the wealthy family cares for their servants and the servants loyally serve their employers.

The sexual morals of the time is also fundie-friendly. One daughter, unmarried, engages in a brief tryst and it shocks and appalls those that discover it. Another character prostitutes herself out and is met with contempt by the entire community. Of course, the characters are "nice" and so try to help those that commit such offenses. However, the show doesn't get preachy about the oppressive morals of the time, other than to showcase how characters adapt to the changing times. The most liberal thing the show has is pushing for the right of women to vote and offering positive portrayals of Catholics. The gay storyline is probably the most offensive item for fundies on the show.

I am willing to bet some in the Vision Forum crowd probably watches this. Maybe the Botkin girls sympathize with the daughters in DA who struggle to get married. Or the gals on Ladies Against Feminism imagine themselves living in such a grand manor sipping tea and taking walks on the well manicured lawn. I can imagine Dougie drooling over the magnificent costumes of which the characters painstakingly change into. Several times a day.

I think what works for the show is that it doesn't get preachy and, because of its time period, doesn't touch on modern day issues. When things do come up, it's usually on items like anti-Catholic sentiments and women's suffrage----issues that many fundie-lite families would not find controversial. There is no talk about gay marriage or abortion. Charity is given by the Earl but there's no mention of welfare from "the Government". The fringe fundies we talk on FJ may find a few objectionable items but probably not enough to overshadow enjoyment of the show IMHO.

Are there any fans out there? Do you think this show has fundie appeal? Do you think some shows just have universal appealing?

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Guest Anonymous

There is a dedicated thread in Worldly Distractions, but beware the spoilers as we are up to the end of season three (and a Christmas special) over there. :)

I won't comment in further detail without permission to discuss episodes you may not yet have seen, but I think there is plenty to offend fundies as time goes on. Not least, in Mrs Hughes's words, by season 3, "the world is becoming a kinder place" and the moral standards and expectations begin to change. Also, by the 1920s we start to see the Crawley daughters having minds of their own, and I expect that in season 4, women's suffrage is likely to be high on the agenda of the screenwriters.

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I love it too, but am avoiding the other thread, due to spoilers.

Ep 1 of Season 3 just aired here last night.

I don't think it is too fundie friendly as time goes on. In particular, the daughters seem to have daddy wrapped around their fingers, and wife is certainly not the submissive type. Outspoken etc, but in a good way! Also as the fashions change and lots of bare shoulders and slim necks are on display.

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There's some serious defrauding fashion going on, especially coming into the 1920s. All those hats certainly take away from the countenance, too.

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Lori Alexander is a fan of both Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey. I haven't watch either show, but I do plan to watch Downton Abbey because many have recommended it to me. The funny thing with Lori is that she called Downtown Abbey "wholesome" and then said something like "why can't America make shows like this." If she was referring to wholesome shows, American studios and networks have produced wholesome programs in today's era. It is basically the Hallmark Channel producing that stuff. I'm surprised Lori hasn't praised the Hallmark Channel for their programming.

Is it wrong that I have fantasies of fundies being forced to watch edgy defrauding TV shows?

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Alexandra, daughter of pepto puke "bealivingsacrifice" sherry liked the show. I think season 1 is fundie safe, season 2 starts to get a bit on the edge. I cant see them liking some of the plot twists in season 3.

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kim c and the girls like both call the midwife and da but they are not typical i know.i know one family who enjoys larkrise to candleford also.

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Like other posters, I don't want to give away spoilers but the show does change its tune and deals with greater societal issues including war, class warfare, poverty, prostitution, female suffrage and love. And oh yes, the 1920's fashions are delightfully defrauding!

But yes, it does portray class society favorably and paints a rosy picture of 'upstairs' and 'downstairs', as if it was all a harmonious whole. I love Downton Abbey myself, for the delicious escapism and fantasy that it is. But historically accurate? Not exactly :)

Would fundies love it? Sure, especially Season I. Seasons II and III - probably not. Unless they are willing to ignore the social commentary and subtext of the series.

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I enjoy the show.

Season 1 the fundies might like but after that I'm not so sure. I remember Lori writing that she was unhappy that Thomas is gay and that it's "unacceptable."

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I am loving the show too! Really dreading the gap between this and next season!

I can see the first season being OK, the second season less so but they would positively hate season 3. Mainly Thomas being gay, women's suffrage, and the Ethel subplot being the big ones that I can see.

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Lori Alexander is a fan of both Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey. I haven't watch either show, but I do plan to watch Downton Abbey because many have recommended it to me. The funny thing with Lori is that she called Downtown Abbey "wholesome" and then said something like "why can't America make shows like this." If she was referring to wholesome shows, American studios and networks have produced wholesome programs in today's era. It is basically the Hallmark Channel producing that stuff. I'm surprised Lori hasn't praised the Hallmark Channel for their programming.

Is it wrong that I have fantasies of fundies being forced to watch edgy defrauding TV shows?

Well, I often find myself wondering why the U.S. can't produce shows like Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Merlin, etc., but it has nothing to do with the content. ;)

I actually think it's reasonably accurate, for a TV show. The relationship between masters and servants is idealized, but it does explore a lot of the limitations and obstacles the servants face (screw up and get dismissed without a good reference and you're screwed as far as finding another job goes, for example). There was more of that in Season One, I think. Season Three seems mainly dedicated to making sure everyone behaves ridiculously out of character at least once...

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I am loving the show too! Really dreading the gap between this and next season!

I can see the first season being OK, the second season less so but they would positively hate season 3. Mainly Thomas being gay, women's suffrage, and the Ethel subplot being the big ones that I can see.

Don't forget the compassion show to the "fallen woman." Fundies hate compassion.

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Don't forget the compassion show to the "fallen woman." Fundies hate compassion.

Oh yes, that too. Good point. They would seriously hate on Isobel for her efforts to help Ethel.

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I can't remember the name of the fundy woman who lives in Alaska and has 2 girls and preggers with a boy. Her husband is away a lot. I read her blog a few weeks ago when something was posted about her here. She said she enjoyed Downton Abbey but warned there was one episode where she had to fast forward and it was horrible. I had forgotten the gay scene, so I imagine that's the scene that offended her so much. She liked Lady Edith best and did not like the fast / feminist ways of Lady Mary or Lady Sybil.

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I've found season 3 to be very feminist-leaning and universal regarding religion and sexuality, so if fundies like the show, I'm sure they will have problems with it now.

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I've found season 3 to be very feminist-leaning and universal regarding religion and sexuality, so if fundies like the show, I'm sure they will have problems with it now.

Yep, my fundie-lite god-parents have stopped watching it because it was getting to be too much like a soap-opera. :roll: I didn't think to ask what they thought it was originally. I must have been mistaken because I thought it actually was a soap-opera to begin with.

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I think fundies' attraction to is that it doesn't overtly point out the "liberal" view as better per se. It lets the viewer see conflicts between the old values and the new without being preachy. Plus, most of the values debated are not terribly controversial such as abortion and gun control. They focus on women's votes and showing off your shoulders. Most fundies, and especially fundie-lites, would not see those things as offensive especially as compared to issues confronted on "The New Normal" or "Sex in the City".

The idealized version of master-servant relationship is what probably fundies finds most appealing. It reinforces their opinions that the lower classes were happy and grateful. There was no "government welfare", no "government health care". It was what the earl provided. He was generous and gave charity and paid for a doctor. That is the only type of welfare fundies approve of. It was "charity" and not "theft" (i.e taxes). Plus, the show makes those receiving the largess sympathetic so fundies will see them as "deserving poor".

In many ways, the idealized portrayal is the same reason fundies like old time 1950's TV sitcoms. The lifestyle portrayed is traditional and it idealizes the time period.

Don't forget the compassion show to the "fallen woman." Fundies hate compassion.

I think fundies like the portrayal of the "fallen woman" because it shows everyone (even our compassionate good guys) disliking her and ostracizing her. They don't mind Isobel being kind to prostitutes because it is considered ok to reach out to prostitutes as individuals. Plus, the show doesn't promote prostitution or argue that it's a "victimless" crime. Rather, it's treated with either contempt or pity.

Fundies do not like compassionate policies made by government, but they don't mind idealized portrayal of compassion. It's just like they support humane treatment of slaves but if they actually had slaves, many would not act so compassionately.

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:D Everybody thinks they would be aristocrats if they lived back then. Just given the laws of statistics, most people would be lucky to be servants (a tough life, but more comfortable than coal mining or working in a sewing sweatshop).

Similarly, "Leave it to Beaver"'s father was an aircraft engineer, wasn't he? It would have been a very different show if Ward worked shifts at the steel plant and June waited tables to help make ends meet.

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I can't remember the name of the fundy woman who lives in Alaska and has 2 girls and preggers with a boy. Her husband is away a lot. I read her blog a few weeks ago when something was posted about her here. She said she enjoyed Downton Abbey but warned there was one episode where she had to fast forward and it was horrible. I had forgotten the gay scene, so I imagine that's the scene that offended her so much. She liked Lady Edith best and did not like the fast / feminist ways of Lady Mary or Lady Sybil.

Oh dear, wonder if she's scandalized by

Lady Edith becoming a newspaper columnist, and a feminist one at that. :naughty:

Re: Season 1, there's also the matter of Mr. Pamuk (yum!).

Lady Mary engaging in premarital sexytimes with a non-Christian (and a Muslim at that)?

Most definitely NOT fundie approved. :snooty:

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A fundieish former coworker loved the show, except for the gay character. She said, and I quote, "It's starting to seem like they're going to redeem his character. I really hope they don't, because he really shouldn't be a positive role model."

+1 to why I don't miss that job.

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:D Everybody thinks they would be aristocrats if they lived back then. Just given the laws of statistics, most people would be lucky to be servants (a tough life, but more comfortable than coal mining or working in a sewing sweatshop).

Similarly, "Leave it to Beaver"'s father was an aircraft engineer, wasn't he? It would have been a very different show if Ward worked shifts at the steel plant and June waited tables to help make ends meet.

II had that exact conversation with Anna T when she fantasized about living in an Austen novel

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The dad on My Three Sons was an aircraft engineer. I don't know what Ward did other than work in an office. IRL, Hugh Beaumont was an ordained Methodist minister in addition to being an actor.

edited for riffle

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piece of trivia most people don't know: june cleaver actually pondered the idea of taking a job to ward one episode...his answer had nothing to with a womens place is in the home bs...he said it would just put them in higher tax bracket ;)

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