Are you familiar with the Masterpiece Theater PBS show Downton Abbey? This Emmy winning series has caught the attention of many, gaining in popularity with each season. For my 20-something daughter and her friends it’s become a ritual Sunday as they gather together watching each episode.
Monday on Varney & Co., Stuart Varney examined the somewhat surprising viewership of this trendy miniseries. Across the U.S. and beginning with the current administration the rich are portrayed as a greedy evil lot. Granted the show is set in the early 1900’s but the well-off are seen in a positive light as good employers and people with style.
The Huffington Post: “The politics of Downton are very important and it’s important that they are popular in America today,” Varney said. “Rich people, powerful people, in America today, are reviled. They’re dismissed as fat cats who don’t pay their fair share. We just hate ’em — ‘Rich people are evil’ … Yet, along comes this show ‘Downton Abbey’ — rich people prominently featured and they’re generous; they’re nice people; they create jobs, for heaven’s sake; they’re classy; they’ve got style and we love ’em … That show is wildly popular, which poses a threat to the left, doesn’t it?”
Of course, the HuffPo’s staff don’t all see the show in the same light.
Huffington Post Maureen Ryan: “The big problem during a large chunk of the season amounts to the following, more or less: ‘Oh no, a very rich man is having to face the possibility of being slightly less comfortable!’ It’s fun to escape into a world of lush privilege when times are hard, but the tenor of the times also make it quite difficult to care about a well-to-do family having to trim its budget a bit.”
What do you think? Have you watched Downton Abbey? Is it escapism or is it an opportunity to see the well-to-do as something different from the ‘fat cat’ portrayal of the liberals.