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The Dowager Countess Knows Best

This Sunday, the finale for Season 2 of Downton Abbey will air on PBS.  If you haven't yet discovered this work of historical fiction from across the pond, go watch Season 1 on Netflix right now.  Then you will be ready to catch up with Season 2.  There are a few episodes available streaming on the PBS website but you can't find the whole season there. (Interestingly, Season 2 is already available on DVD so I guess some chaps already know how the finale will play out...)


I love it when a story completely captures your attention like Downton Abbey has for me.  It's got everything I love about Mad Men set 45 years earlier...in England.  In fact, if you ever watched Mad Men and thought, "Wow! We sure have come a long way since the 1960s!" your mind will be completely blown by the class structure and social hierarchy of English society in the early 20th century.  They were just so darn...proper.   


Even though it is a proper British tale, there is still all the love, scandal, sacrifice, and drama that accompanies any good soap opera. 


I find myself wondering in each episode where exactly the three Grantham sisters will end up. Will Mary follow her heart or do what she thinks she must in the name of propriety? Will Sybil be happy with her beau even though he isn't "of noble birth"? Is Edith doomed to be a spinster aunt?  


The one who steals the show, though, is Maggie Smith in her role as Violet, the Dowager Countess. She is a bastion of the old guard, not quite comfortable with the changes that the 20th century seems to bring with every turn of the calendar.  Some of my favorite bits of dialogue:






Lady Sybil (her granddaughter): No one ever learned anything from a governess except for French and how to curtsy.
Dowager Countess: What more do you need?
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Lady Mary (another granddaughter): Sybil is entitled to her opinions, Granny.
Dowager Countess: No. She isn't until she is married. Then her husband will tell her what her opinions are.
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And this final gem: I'm a woman...I can be as contrary as I choose.


So until Mad Men returns next month, I am happy to enjoy the rest of Downton Abbey.  Hope you enjoy it too.  Cheers!

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