It was all Steve Carrell's fault, really. The Office was a repeat on Thursday, and so we were trying to find something else to watch. "I have two ideas," I told Sean. "There's this reality show called The Only Way Is Essex, which is basically like Jersey Shore set in England. Or I've been hearing good things about Downton Abbey, which is a British period drama set right before the First World War."
Could I have chosen two more wildly varying shows? As it turned out, The Only Way Is Essex was taking forever to download on Hulu, so we went with Downton Abbey, which was available immediately on Netflix Streaming. And this is where it became a real "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" type situation, because choosing Downton Abbey did indeed make all the difference: it meant we watched our first episode on Thursday night and then did not come up for air the entire weekend, gorging ourselves on three more episodes on Friday, then another three on Saturday.
"It's happened," I told Sean during a brief interlude when we weren't transfixed to the screen, probably a quick bathroom break or something, for those were the only breaks we took. "We are at home, on a Friday night, watching PBS."
"And," said Sean. "WE ARE LIKING IT."
To be honest, I did not think Downton Abbey would really be my jam. I am not, historically, the biggest fan of period dramas—ha! See what I did there? Historically? I didn't even mean to do that!—and I was never the kind of gal who got all excited about Mr. Darcy or whatever. But Downton Abbey is different. It is wonderful. I could not get enough of it, and I cried out in anguish—I am not even kidding, I LITERALLY CRIED OUT IN ANGUISH, ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION—at the closing credits of each hour-long episode. There are only seven in the first series (which is the only one available in the U.S. right now) and we gobbled them up like the crazy Masterpiece-Theater-loving crazypeople that we are. And now we have to wait until January 8th, 2012 to get another fix.
(Unless..........unless we bought plane tickets to England, where season two is currently showing on ITV. But no, that would be crazy, right? Totally crazy. That would be totally insane. No, you have the British Airways website open on your computer! No, you!)
So what do I like about it? Man, just everything. It has everything. There is romance, for instance. There is scandal and drama and intrigue. There are impeccable, cut-glass accents, gorgeous wide-angle shots of the rolling English countryside, and several different people to whom the term "eye candy" could be applied. There are costumes to drool over, hilariously scornful asides about why electricity would ever be necessary in a kitchen—as a Person In The Future, you get to feel very smug snickering over this, just like you do in Mad Men when someone who is nine months pregnant lights up a cigarette and no-one so much as flinches—and, most of all, a plot that grabs you by the throat from the very first episode and doesn't let up until the last line of the seventh.
Have you seen Downton Abbey? What do you think? If you haven't, I implore you to rent it immediately. Hurry up! We need to discuss.
(PS: The Wikipedia page, which I have recently discovered, boasts the seven most beautiful words in the English language: "There will also be a Christmas special.")