The US is, at the moment, caught up in Downton Abbey fever – or at least starting to get over a serious case now that the third season has begun. With all the talk of it among our friends our kids picked up on the conversations and started asking us what all the fuss was about. Because they’ve demonstrated that they can tolerate wordy and intricately plotted British storytelling we figured it couldn’t hurt to start watching the first season just to see what would happen.
We had concerns about certain events and how appropriate they would be for a younger audience. Our kids are 10 and 12 and reasonably sophisticated in their tastes – although Merran would be happy if they would finally get around to reading Jane Eyre – but by the third episode we were remembering the unfortunate Mr. Pamuk and realizing there was going to have to be some explanations provided as to just how bad it was that:
a) He passed away in Mary’s bed and…
b) What he was doing in Mary’s bed (with no clothes on! Scandal!)
Fortunately for us they responded in an appropriate manner but I’m thinking perhaps it’s a good thing that their interest in it has been waning. I was not planning to show them the relatively bloody second season and our son, while somewhat interested, was not completely engaged with the drama.
However, in discussing early 20th century hijinks in Britain it occurred to Merran and I that there might be another alternative to replace Downton Abbey. It’s not much safer when it comes to portrayals of drinking and smoking, but at least it has a strong dose of the absurd. I am speaking, of course, of the Fry and Laurie version of the British television program Jeeves and Wooster. Not only is P.G. Wodehouse appropriately comical and silly for kids but Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie are the perfect actors to portray these roles. So far the kids have accepted it as a happy substitute but I wonder at what point they may turn around and insist that we go back to Downton Abbey.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment or have something to add?
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Let me know what you think.