Some friends and I have been invited to a Downton Abbey-esque black tie event later this summer and it got us talking about the show. One of my friends emailed to ask “Are we all upstairs types, dahling?”
I jolly well hope so – in the universe of Downton Abbey, life is only kind to you if you’re an upstairs type.
Let me set out my case.
Lady Mary – you may be cold and apparently heartless but deep down inside you are capable of only One True Love (and you know it, really) so no matter how badly you behave the Deus Ex Machina will descend and kill off the dastardly Turkish gentleman before he can spoil you forever, and also knock out your rival with Spanish flu so you will, in spite of yourself, get your man.
Matthew – you may be a commoner but you are honourable and decent and will forever have only One True Love no matter what, and therefore, you are indeed worthy to become the next Lord Grantham so even if your spinal cord seems to be severed beyond your repair, you miraculously get your legs back and get up and walk. Hallelujah!
Mr Pahmouk – well, you’re just dastardly, aren’t you, so however young and fit you are, you’re going to die before you have your evil way with a Lady!
Lavinia Swire – you may be sweet and devoted to Matthew but ultimately, you’re just not posh enough and this means you’re in the way of the One True Love, so off you go with the flu.
If you’re a smoker and a downstairs type, you must be evil. After all, what do smokers do standing outside in the cold together other than connive and scheme?
Take Thomas, the sinister footman – as a downstairs type, smoker and non-animal lover, you will get the worse punishment. Exhibit A: one hand blown off in the same war that Matthew was in and which does not miraculously grow back. But what can you expect if you commit THE most heinous crime of all 2 seasons plus the Xmas special: locking Lord Granthams’s beloved dog for personal gain.
Mr Bates – you can be as noble and self-sacrificing and heroic as you like and even capable of One True Love but your past will catch up with you, and not only that, you’ll get yourself into a pickle again because you can’t control yourself when confronting your lunatic wife.
Anna – no good turn goes unpunished, the saying goes. You may be loyal and kind and have a bottomless well of love for your One True Love but you help the upstairs lot with Mr Pahmouk’s body and it will haunt you through the whole series.
William – you’re just sweet and devoted like Lavinia but the world of Downton Abbey is cruel to wet besotted non-upstairs types so although you get a moment of happiness, you too must die.
So, yeah, I’d very much hope that we’d be upstairs types if we had to enter the very harsh and unforgiving snobbery that is the universe of Downton Abbey!
Photo: from KCTS 9 via flickr.com (CCL)