The morning after the Oscars — no I didn’t watch it, as Angelina Jolie’s Leg is fairly irrelevant in the life of a reclusive dirt farmer — seems as good a time as any to trot out one of my favorite themes. Which is:
If misogyny didn’t exist, if the human uterus was not the property of male interests, if boinking were truly the apolitical, natural bodily function everyone always claims it is, Hollywood would be utterly bereft of subject material.
I mention this because to my great shame I have become a Downton Abbeyist. The outfits, the accents, the melodrama, the stereotypes, the primogeniture, the Gretna Green elopements. It’s mesmerizing, the shiniest thing in a room full of shiny things.I watch this show despite the fact that at the entire nub of the main plot is the ruined “purity” of the heroine.* Who will she marry? Also, who will her hot sister marry? Who will her homely sister marry? Who will her aging aunt marry? Will her saintly maid marry the saintly valet? Will the kitchen maid marry the brave young soldier to give him something to live for? Will the family heir marry the saintly London girl? What will the disgraced maid do with her bastard son of a wealthy Major, who she can’t marry because he’s dead?
Don’t try to tell me that the vadge-policing plot device only reflects the misogyny of a bygone era. If ours were a society in which women’s sexuality weren’t entirely co-opted by dudely interests, nobody would be watching “Downton Abbey.” Or anything else on TV.
Unless, possibly, one wished simply to behold the magnificent Maggie Smith at the top of her game. She is, in this series and in any other thing she’s ever done, like a perfect ripe strawberry in a gilded Spode bowl of Cool Whip.
Of course I hate myself for buying in. But if I didn’t hate myself, I wouldn’t be a citizen of the patriarchy.
* To say nothing of the racist elements: such as, the one ethnically non-British character, the “Turkish Ambassador,” is the one who defiles the daughter and immediately dies.
Photo of Maggie Smith in a witch’s hat stolen here.