January 18, 2012

a Knox hit

“Downton Abbey,” now a regular in the PBS Masterpiece line-up, has become well-known in the Knox community.
This British television period drama is set on the fictional estate, Downton Abbey, in North Yorkshire in the Edwardian era. It has hooked audiences with its period costumes and award-winning cast, which includes the 2012 Golden Globe award nominee performances of Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith.
The show demonstrates the class divides within the estate, which was a major draw for junior Joshua Gunter.
“They talk so much about the class system and its rigid structure. In the U.S. we don’t think we have one,” he said. “[In the show] everyone just accepts their position; it’s just really fascinating to watch.”
Senior Aisha Mergaert was also attracted to the drama for its social tensions. It reminded her of another British drama “Upstairs, Downstairs.” The upstairs referred to the family, the downstairs to the servants.
“’Downton Abbey’ is great because it’s a different take on the same idea Britain seems to love so much,” she said.
Mergaert mentioned a relationship that is forming on the show between Sybil and the chauffeur, saying that this is the development she is most interested in because “they’re all about the dissolving of class barriers, I think these two characters more than anyone else exemplify this theme.”
Others, like senior James White, find the show comforting.
“I find it helpful to have a calm thing to be invested in,” he said. White devoured the series, watching season one in two days.
Originally from England, like the show, White admits to harboring “some silly bias toward English shows.”
Mergaert also had a bias toward English shows, but for her, they only extended to Masterpiece Theater, which she would watch every week with her mother when she was away from Knox on breaks. She was drawn to these British period dramas because they offered “fun and costumes.” For someone interested in costume shop, the elaborate details of “Downton Abbey” are somewhat ideal.
Gunter expressed his appreciation for pieces that “are able to pay a lot of attention to more minor details.”
Though he said he is not normally hooked by costume dramas, he does enjoy the “really elaborate set and costuming,” of “Downton Abbey.”
“It’s really ornate and sort of splendid. I like that sort of show that’s just really robust,” he said.
Gunter predicted a shift in the show’s structure as World War I begins with the start of the second season, but no shift in viewership.
White compared “Downton Abbey” to the popular book series “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, saying, “You don’t know anyone else is watching it until you find out that everyone is.”

Samantha Paul
Samantha Paul is a senior double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She previously served as both a news reporter and a copy editor for TKS. During the summer of 2012, Sam served as press chair of a literacy brigade in El Salvador. She has also interned with both Bloom Magazine and The Galesburg Register-Mail. At Knox, Sam is an organizational editor for Catch magazine.

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