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Is 'Downton Abbey' A Witch?

By Emily Cutler | Lists | March 31, 2017 |

By Emily Cutler | Lists | March 31, 2017 |

The PBS smash-hit melodrama Donwton Abbey has been gone for a little over a year. But during its six season run, it managed to captivate viewers, win various awards, explore the history of early century England, and force people to write the phrase “PBS smash-hit melodrama.” We now look back at the show that taught a new generation of people how they were acting like commoners to explore the most pressing question: Is Downton Abbey a witch?

1) Nobody Actually Cares About Lady Mary

OK, is it my turn now? Cool. Hi, it’s Emily. Let me explain a little more. I watched about eighty-percent of Downton Abbey. I say eighty-percent because there’s legitimately no way I could recount any of the seasons’ plotlines (more on that in a second). I don’t remember deciding to watch DA (more on that in a second, too), but there was absolutely a time where I watched it religiously. And then I think I moved, forgot to set up the DVR to record the show, and it just disappeared from my consciousness altogether. Maybe somewhere in seasons five. I completely gave up on the show before season six started, and until this weekend, hadn’t seen a second of it. But then PBS had to marathon. And because the entire series was right there (again, I don’t remember how the show got on the TV. I’m pretty sure I didn’t change the channel to PBS), being blissfully British, I watched it. And I didn’t turn it off. And, most importantly, if I saw the final season, I’m still not sure that I remember what happened.

I say all of this as a precursor to my major point in this heading. Basically, I don’t care about the show. But I woke up the other night fully panicked, mind racing with one thought, “Do you think Lady Mary is OK?!”


Believe me, I know. And it’s not just that I don’t care about Lady Mary in the way I don’t care about most of the characters on the show. It’s that I find her, in particular, un-compelling and un-entertainingly bitchy. That’s right. Bitch is basic. And in a show dedicated to bitchy people making bitchy faces, she can’t even out Bitch Face the butler or her own grandmother.


My individual feelings aside, I posit that no one actually likes Lady Mary. Here’s my proof: name one characteristic Mary has or one thing Mary did that is unrelated to her many suitors. Did you say “She got that haircut”? Yeah, you did. The show (a witch) has somehow convinced us to care deeply about a woman who has no individual characteristics other than dating a lot, being a bitch, and getting a fancy bob. If you think you like Mary, you are under the show’s spell. We need to get you out now.

2) No One Remembers When Downton Abbey Started

Quick, what were you doing when Downton Abbey premiered? Did you know the show existed? Maybe you didn’t get in to it when it first started, but caught up later. In that case, who told you about the show? What made you decide to start watching? Which review did you read? Did you get the first season Netflixed to you (meaning the actual DVDs the way we olds used to watch TV), or was it a PBS catch up? Do you have any memory of deciding to dedicate six years of your life to a show about rich people from a century ago? Or is it just an omnipresent entity? One that seems to have existed from time immemorial, and may or may not have latched itself onto your consciousness like some sort of powerful psychic parasite? You still think you’re in control of your Downton relationship? Consider this: did you watch Mr. Selfridge? Fuck no, you didn’t. Downton Abbey’s a witch.

3) There Are No Plots

Any family centered drama is going to run into the issue of recycling plotlines. Fiona Gallagher will mess up in the same ways over and over again. Tony Soprano will kill some people, and feel bad about it. Annalise Keating will continue getting away with murders. But this is not my argument for Downton Abbey having no plot lines. I mean, that in addition to not being able to remember anything that happened on the show (again, because of the psychic parasite that’s living in all of our brains), I mean that their “plots” are just people saying or not saying bitchy things. Daisy loves Alfred, but only hints at it. Alfred loves [LOOK UP WHAT’S HER FACE’S NAME], but she loves [OLD BUDDY]. And upstairs is no better. Tom is thinking about moving to America, Cora and the Dowager are fighting about the hospital, someone got sick. These aren’t plots. I could understand that Mary would have, and, therefore, need to dismiss a large number of suitors, and that conversations would exists around those topics. What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to watch them. One plotline was about the estate getting a refrigerator. One time we watched an episode about Sybil wearing pants. HOW IS THAT A THING?

4) Maggie Smith Is A Treasure

Now’s the time in the post where I use a lot of Maggie Smith gifs. She’s amazing. Maybe I watched the show for her. If she is the Downton Abbey witch, I retract all of my previous bad words about it. I would gratefully submit to her as my psychic, parasitic overlord.






4) ‘Downton’ Should Be ‘Downtown’

This one might be less generalized and more “me” specific, but I catch myself saying “Downton” when I mean “downtown” more often than not. Which means that a word that means nothing has replaced the word for a very real place to which I refer fairly often. I go “downtown” once a month. I have plans to hopefully work close to “downtown” once I graduate. I ask people what they plan to do while visiting “downtown.” “Downton” is a word a British dude made up to sound fancy. A fake, nothing word is taking up valuable mental real estate, and I cannot for the life of me get it out.

So in close, please get out of my brain, Downton Abbey Witch. You’ve had a good run and everything, but it’s really time to let Legion take over.