B*tch Ranking 'Downton Abbey': The Americans Arrive, Substituting Vulgarity for Wit
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B*tch Ranking 'Downton Abbey': The Americans Arrive, Substituting Vulgarity for Wit

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | TV Reviews | February 24, 2014 | Comments ()


I take everything I ever said about cousin Harold back, because Paul Giamatti can do absolutely no wrong in this world. But who tops our completely arbitrarily ordered bitchrankings this week? Let’s see, door number one!

Mary: Oh but now I have a moral crisis now that I’ve been presented with minute circumstantial evidence. Wait, maybe if he can help Papa I’ll forgive him for tipping the rapist that slept in my house into traffic. That idiocy aside, she had some fantastic zingers, usually by eviscerating Edith’s very existence when she wasn’t around.

The rapist: Seriously, I mean fuck that guy. He’s not even around anymore, but he spreads like a stain.

Edith: For one moment I thought that her balls had dropped, and she was going to go get her baby, aristocratic shock be damned. Nope, just secretly giving her to the pig farmer. I don’t think that even counts as a single ball dropping. Half ball? Maybe a quarter.

Adolf Hitler: I kind of want to photoshop Edith wearing a t-shirt that says “Hitler killed my boyfriend and all I got was this lousy bastard” but I’m way too lazy to bother when I can just describe it instead.

Thomas: one of these days, Machia-dickhead here is going to go one step too far, Molesly is going to give a pained nod to Bates, and then Thomas will disappear. And there won’t be any moral quandary because seriously, no one cares anymore.

Dowager Bitch Goddess: these rankings don’t even really need to list her, because her contrary growls are in the hall of fame and she’s now just playing the game for beer money.

School teacher: nobles are a bunch of twats, but I still totally want to see your cool house, you know if you’re ALLOWED to. Ugh. I sort of liked the fake-pregnant-date-rapist lady better. She was evil, but she had ambition, which was at least interesting.

That said, Robert, seriously, you’re all upholding the fine traditions of the past yada yada? I’d have paid sixteen Internet dollars for Tom to have looked you right in the eye and said: “um yeah, I’m an aristocrat now, so I banged a townie, doesn’t get more traditional than that. Was there a form I was supposed to have Carson fill out afterwards? Did I not tip enough? Too much?”

Rose’s parents: I know her parents don’t like her, but you’d think at some point in the last 18 months of show time they’d bother coming back to see their precious angel get her official nod from the King and all that.

Even so: ugh, Rose. She’s like a walking propaganda poster in favor of a communist revolution.

PBS: I was pretty sure this was the Christmas Special, so I knew it would run long. I looked it up, and it had a two hour block set aside. So when Carson and Mrs. Hughes walked into the ocean and the screen went to the Masterpiece book flipping at 10:34, I was first confused and then annoyed. I was promised 2 hours of Downton, and I’m coming up 26 minutes short. Not cool, commercial-free television that I don’t pay for, not cool at all.

Bates? Batman. I’m sticking with this theory. Name a criminal skill and he has it. But he was only in jail for a few months, which to me means that he already knew all of these things. Prison just gives him the convenient excuse for where he acquired all those talents. Of course, he did murder a dude and kept the train ticket in his jacket pocket for eight freaking months. Creepy serial killer trophy? Was the real reason that Anna gave the coat away because Bates insisted on wearing it during their stiff upper lipping? I hope they washed the jacket before giving it to those poor Russian refugees. Running from communism into the open arms of British working class overcoats that have a year of murder stank on them? They might write a letter to Lenin asking to come back.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • If someone could make a supercut of the Dowager Countess tittering at her own jokes, I'd be ever so grateful. Seriously, best thing ever.

  • I truly don't understand why Lady Mary has a string of men waiting to marry her. She's not inheriting the money - her kid is. She's beautiful, but not enough so to make up for being a complete and utterly snooty bitch.

    I want to like the schoolteacher, mostly because I really like Tom and want him to find a nice girl to marry and raise his kid with. Too bad that I can't stand her.

    Also, timeline-wise, would this be the same Prince of Wales that would eventually abdicate the throne and marry Wallis Simpson?

  • The schoolteacher is a bitter shrew. They could have written her as slightly likeable but also somebody who pokes at his discomfort with nobility. But instead she is a one-note harpy. Tom deserves better.

  • chanohack

    Are they in love with her because she's actually working to try and keep the estate? I don't get it either, and it's utterly unfair that she has a "desire" of three suitors when Edith has none, but I hope she picks the curly one. Or that they all go away.

  • Monica

    Yeah, I was wondering about this too. There was one of the dancing scenes and it was like NOBODY wanted to dance with Edith. Really? There's no dude there at all who would dance with her?

    Or is it just because she's all mopey-Michael-missing-her-baby right now?

  • Fall07

    It would be the same one.

  • Three_nineteen

    It took me a bit to figure that out, because I can never remember that the heir apparent's official title is the Prince of Wales. Then once they started talking about the letter, I remembered that fact, realized it was 1923, and put it together.

  • chanohack

    And the recipient of the scandalous note was one of his famous married girlfriends! I enjoyed that very much.

  • Thanks.

  • chanohack

    Carson with his shoes off makes me uncomfortable; Carson with his feet in the sea, sighing, made me say aloud, "WHOA CARSON. WHOA."

    And then hand in hand with Mrs. Hughes? We're all on the same page, yes, that Carson does not deserve Mrs. Hughes? I was very disturbed by the ending, and shouty.

  • BWeaves

    It reminded me of the end of the original Upstairs / Downstairs, when Hudson married Mrs. Bridges. I figured it was more about her cooking and them being used to each other and separate bedrooms.

  • chanohack

    FAVORITE MOMENT: Rose says, "But Cousin Robert, how can we commit this crime? Pick a lock or whatnot?" Cousin Robert runs into the hall and practically shouts, "SOMEONE GET ME BATES."

    Ha ha ha ha oh, I died.

  • BWeaves

    I swear, we need the backstory on Lord G and Bates. There was definitely something fishy in their past together.

  • chanohack

    Perhaps so! Lord G's alleged line of thinking was "Bates has been in prison and knows disreputable people," but how strange is it that he happens upon one of Bates' exact talents? Lord G might have prior knowledge of Bates' forgery (which the show has well established, with Bates perviously forging Mosesley's signature).

    I do think it was funny that everybody kept saying to Bates, "This seems illegal but it's totally fine," and seeing his non-reaction.

  • BiblioGlow

    I know! His face said "I almost believe you but even more than that I don't care."

  • BWeaves

    1. Maybe it's because I've lived in America since 1970, but I didn't get all the "Americanisms" that were supposedly so faux pas. I was raised in England. I still didn't get them.

    2. Kenneth the page romancing Daisy. By the way, I loved Daisy's beach outfit. She looked adorable.

    3. Thomas, Thomas. Servants are supposed to be NOT seen AND NOT heard. Telling tales on Branson is not going to gain you favors with Lord G. He was glad to see the back of you after that America trip. Anyone else think Thomas is going to get his ass fired next season, and Mosley will get his spot?

    4. Speaking of Mosley, Mosley and Baxter forever!

    5. Does every season have to end with Lady Mary getting proposed to and turning down men? I really cannot tell these two apart. And it pissed me off that she wasn't interested in whatever his name is until she found out from the other guy that whosit is "one of us."

    6. I really did think that Edith was going to bring the baby back and announce, "Yes, I've got one." Still, I think the farmer knows whose baby it really is.

    7. I don't see how Edith is going to inherit anything from her boyfriend, given the insane wife is still living. It's not like he had any time to set up anything in Germany. He was killed (I guess) the first night out. I thought the whole point of going to Germany was because the laws of England wouldn't let him get rid of the wife. I still think Edith needs to hunt down said wife and find out if she really is insane.

    8. Oh, Fellowes, you just love to show how good it was in the good old days. Queen Mary being Queen Maryish. Prince Edward having to be "saved" by Bate's forgery and pickpocketing. Bates is getting shadier by the minute. Murder, forgery, stealing. I bet he's not really lame. I bet there's a sword in his cane. And I bet he's blackmailing Lord G in order to be his valet. Or they were secret lovers during their time in the army. Why else would you hire a lame servant? Also, who keeps old train tickets in their pockets, especially the ONE train ticket that would link you to MURDER?

    9. Cora's brother was not as grouchy, grumpy, whatever, as I expected he would be, given his mother and being played by Paul Giamatti.

    10. Why was the Dowager Countess not allowed to bring her maid? If anyone needs help dressing themselves, it would be the DC. Surely Cora and Mary and Edith could slip those slip dresses over they heads themselves? DC is still wearing a corset. She needs her own maid. Space be damed. Send one of the other maids home.

    11. I guess we won't see Ivy next season. Since Alfred is out, her part is pretty much useless. Maybe James will get nicer again next season?

    12. Cousin Oliver Rose can leave any time.

    13. I really do not like the school teacher. Her part just doesn't seem right. "I don't like anything about rich people. Can you show me their house?"

    14. At this point Branson just needs to get over the, "I'm not one of you." thing. He is one of them. Just embrace it and bang the help, already. It's not like you don't have practice.

    15. Any picnic that involves bringing half your furniture with you and servants is not a picnic.

  • I don't want to get myself tossed off the fan bus but this was a weak season and a weak finale. So little happened! You're right - Rose is completely forgettable and the whole "marry a black dude" scandal came and went with no emotional payoff. Mary's swans are milktoast. Thomas is just pointlessly evil these days. How does he benefit from any of his machinations? He doesn't. What happened to sympathetic Thomas from last season? Who knows.

    Also poor Shirley McClane was entirely wasted. Paul was fantastic but his story line was unrelated to any of the main characters. What was the point of having him show up other than the PR of having him on the show?

    I can ignore everything just for the simple joys of the Dowager Countess. But I'm really hoping that next season is better than this one.

  • chanohack

    I agree entirely. The "unwanted baby" scandal still has some potential, but there wasn't a lot of emotional payoff there, either.

  • Three_nineteen

    I think the London house was getting so crowded that they were having a hard time finding places for everyone to sleep, so they asked the Dowager to not bring any extra people.

    ETA: And, I apparently did not read through to the end of your bullet point, since you expressed comprehension of this point. Reading fail on my part.

  • chanohack

    Edith is "inheriting" the business, not because of marriage, but because he gave her power of attorney before he left-- remember the stack of papers she signed on the night they made a baby?

  • BWeaves

    It was never very clear to me what she was signing. She even was proud that she didn't read it.

    Also, was he the publisher or the editor? Damn, I cannot remember. I was never under the impression that he owned the business, but that he ran it, but I'm sure I'm wrong.

  • chanohack

    They keep saying "editor," but is that really a position one can inherit? And how much monetary value is there in an inherited editor position? I wouldn't mind some further explanation.

  • BWeaves

    Yes, well, this was written by the man (Fellowes) who thinks you can find an illegal abortion doctor in an ad in the back of a ladies magazine, so . . . yeah.

  • AM

    Also the man who thinks that one goes from stone cold sober to absolute loss of inhibition somewhere around the second whiskey pour.

  • JoannaRobinson

    This is the best thing about me leaving Pajiba.

  • chanohack

    I do miss "best dressed." But this week, who could choose? (Moneypenny had at least four solid entries though, so she's got my vote!)

  • BWeaves

    I think a sarcasm font is needed here, because I'm not sure what you mean by that.

  • JoannaRobinson

    That Steven should have been doing this all along and I'm so delighted to read these every week?

  • BWeaves


  • Monica

    No mention of the American-caricature valet? I am disappoint.

  • chanohack

    His "American" accent was amusing. :)

  • The entire thing gets even more wonderful if you realize how well Harold, his mother, and the hick valet map directly on to Jack Donaghy, his mother, and Kenneth.

  • BWeaves

    YES! I saw that, too.

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