The fact that our tv has been out of commission all winter hasn’t really bothered me, since we hardly ever watch it anyway. One problem, however, did arise from living under a rock in January and February of 2013, and it wasn’t missing the sequester debates. No friends, it was much bigger than that. These past winter months, while the groundhog was missing his chubby shadow, your chubby faithful was missing the third season of Downton Abbey. Hence, while my ya-yas were rejoicing over Sybil’s baby and then crying over Sybil’s death, I spent my Sunday nights grimly, either bonding with my children or reading a thought-provoking book–poor uses of time compared to swooning over Matthew Crawley’s blue eyes and soft jawline which, by some inexplicable force of the cosmos, works well for him. (A soft jawline on a male is usually a real issue for me.)
I assumed I wouldn’t be able to watch the episodes online until they were available on Netflix, and wouldn’t you know it–neither my mom nor my sister had recorded any of them. Granted, they’d no idea my cable was down and I had never actually requested that they record DA for me, but still: is it too much to ask for a little feminine foresight? Were my mother more spiritually in tune, I believe she would have felt compelled to record the entire season on the offchance that The Pretty Daughter had not seen it. Missing out on the Show of the Year, I found myself worrying–for the first time ever–that I Might Not Be Cool. And what’s a girl like me gonna do without that?
And then last week, out of nowhere, a good friend of mine casually mentioned that she had Season Three–in its entirety–recorded at home. She wondered: would I like to come watch it? (Would I? Oh, she is a very, very good friend!) I could park on her couch and watch Dowton Abbey to my heart’s content while she folded laundry and I pretended to offer my help. (It was the least I could do.) We had all kinds of fun, wasting a rainy weekday morning in front of the tv, just like we were
young moms kids again. We made it about halfway through the episodes and then, alas, our magical morning was over. Unable to find another time we could meet and watch in the near future, I sighed, put Anna and Mr. Bates on the back burner of my mind, and sludged forward through my week, daydreaming about the mysterious Season Finale that had sparked so much controversy on facebook. (I forced my eyes to slide past those posts. It was hard, my faithfuls, really really hard!)
Fast forward to last Saturday night. Would you believe me if I told you that I found all seven episodes available for free viewing on pbs.com? I didn’t know if they’d been there all along (probably), and I didn’t care–I was elated. I put my kids to bed, shimmied into my snowflake flannel pajamas, and climbed into my own toasty sheets with my husband’s iPad and not a care in the world, sans the bewilderment over how Mr. Bates could ever come ’round to defending Thomas. I started at nine and finished at one (a.m.–and you thought I was old) and yes, at long last, I saw the Season Finale. I witnessed the dreadful accident. I now know, with all of you, Just What Happened. And my mind is still reeling with just one puzzling, obstinate question, and the question is this: Are you kidding me?
I am asking you, Mr. Julian Fellowes: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Oh, you are a clever one, hiding your inane, melodramatic, Nicholas Sparks-like ending behind a slew of witty dialogue and British accents. We may be glued to your garbage, but we are not so easily fooled. It was bad enough that all of your secondary characters died off as soon as they were inconvenient (Tom’s death spared Daisy a long, loveless marriage and hooked her up with some money; Lavinia’s death did the same for Matthew and hooked him up with Mary, and then some more money. That one wrapped up ever so nicely) Even Sybil’s death, sad as it was, didn’t snag the storyline much since we hadn’t seen her in awhile. (And at least we got to see Tom shirtless afterward, which is always a good use of air time.)
I will allow you this kind of indulgent plot-candy because, though it claims to be a “drama” we all know Dowton Abbey is really just a soap opera for people who swear they don’t watch soap operas. And you do have some fabulous costumes going on. However, killing off Matthew Crawley in the final episode was just too much. Or should I say, it was just too little? Too little thought and creativity went into it. It was an easy out for writers who apparently couldn’t drum up anything more original, so instead delivered a dumb, dumb ending. This finale makes Dallas look positively literary; at least we had to guess who shot J.R.
And though I know the show is a fantasy, couldn’t we at least try for a touch of believability? Matthew dies a year after Sybil, leaving Mary and Tom–the less likeable partners of each couple–reeling together in sudden, single parenthood? Even for the dramafest that is Downton Abbey, it seems a bit, well, rich (pun intended.) And if you’re gonna stick it to your audience, at least kill off the dour, unattractive (boring and ugly) characters. I mean, we come to you on a Sunday night. Most of us have been fighting cranky kids all day. Is this the best you can offer?
So, my dear friends, though it pains me to say it and you will shudder to hear it, I cannot deny it: I am mad at Dowton Abbey. Not so much because Matthew Crawley is dead, but because the spirit of Nicholas Sparks–who ends every one of his books with a tragic, ridiculous death because, apparently, he can’t think of a better ending–is so obviously alive. Alive and kicking. Our buns with this trash. I knew Nicholas Sparks was a hit in Hollywood, but I never thought he’d infiltrate the sacred, pseudointellectual parlors of Downton. Shame on you, Julian. Shame on you.
i loved the notebook.
it had ryan gosling in it.