Last night I sat in front of the television for nearly two hours watching the final episode of Downton Abbey. It’s true. I will no longer be able to watch Lord Grantham as he struggles to figure out how to navigate the 20th Century, which carries with it things like hair dryers and women having lives beyond their families and being stuffed and tied into corsets. Lady Grantham’s tilted head and unending smile will no longer be there to take the edge off my day. The Crawley sisters’ bickering won’t be reminding me that sibling rivalries aren’t just a thing of the 21st Century. And Lady Violet. Oh, how I will miss Lady Violet.
Ever since the very first time I heard those bells tingle in the show’s opening sequence six years ago, my life was changed in a small way. And I’m not sure why. It was like entering into a dream.
I never yearned to be one of the Crawleys. I would have gotten lost in that gigantic home. Heavens knows I can’t even imagine having to wear formal wear EVERY SINGLE NIGHT to dinner. Life in the late 19th and early 20th Century was no piece of cake, even for families like the one in Downton.
Still, I enjoyed watching the show. There will be a hole in my Sunday nights that won’t be easily filled. Between the ending of football season and the series finale of Downton Abbey, I might have to take up embroidery.
It is no exaggeration to say that I cried throughout the entire episode last night. Seriously, from the beginning until the end. The fact that I was having to say goodbye to the Crawleys was no small part of the reason I cried. But Julian Fellowes (the series’ creator and writer) simply handed me a finale that was so flipping satisfying in every way.
I recognize, of course, that real life doesn’t always wrap up so conveniently and satisfactorily in 90 minutes as did the life in that little town in York. But I think that is why I found the show so incredibly addicting. It was nice to have drama and comedy and angst and family rivalries for six weeks in the middle of winter wrapped in such a beautiful package.
Because Downton Abbey was nothing if not beautiful. The clothes were lovely. The house was unimaginably beautiful. The manners, the British accents, the scenery – all made for astoundingly beautiful visuals.
For the most part, the characters were kind and smart. In the first season, I kept waiting for the wealthy Crawley family to be evil and greedy. That’s Hollywood’s typical depiction of the rich and powerful. But no; instead, they were serious about trying to make a good life for the people for whom Lord Grantham was responsible. Not just his staff, but the people of the village.
The staff downstairs had their own interesting characters, story lines, saints and devils. I enjoyed getting a glimpse each week into what went on in the way of providing service for a family in a house the size of a small village. It was fun to root for the good guys and boo for the bad guys.
At the end of the day, I have enjoyed watching this beautiful program for the past six seasons, and am sad to say goodbye. But I feel like I’m leaving Downton and all the people there in good hands.
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