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B*tch Ranking 'Downton Abbey': We Need To Talk About Anna

By Joanna Robinson | TV | January 13, 2014 |

By Joanna Robinson | TV | January 13, 2014 |

It seems in poor taste to b*tchrank an episode that has such a shocking and upsetting event at the center of it. Anyway, I think we all know how that ranking would go:

5. That Evil Rapist, Mr. Green
4. That Evil Rapist, Mr. Green
3. That Evil Rapist, Mr. Green
2. That Evil Rapist, Mr. Green
1. That Evil Rapist, Mr. Green

Who else could possibly compare?

I really don’t feel that discussing what was going on upstairs is at all useful except to say it was the expectedly vacuous “privileged class enjoying their privileges” stuff that was no doubt meant to highlight the horror of what happened downstairs. We can’t even sympathize with the usually sympathetic Tom and his ennui or stomach Mary’s cautious flirtations or Lord Grantham’s intolerable snobbery.

No, the episode belonged to Joanne Froggat’s arresting Anna (not to mention Phyllis Logan’s excellent Mrs. Hughes). We, the modern television watcher, are quite used to horrific violence and, especially if we watch those gruesome police procedurals or, say, Game Of Thrones , are no stranger to a brutally executed rape. But the reason this episode of Downton was so shocking is that this isn’t that kind of show. Dead Turks in the bed are one thing, but sexual assault of a beloved character? That’s another thing entirely. No offense meant to Turks, by the way. This isn’t a race or gender thing. It’s a familiarity thing.

Downton Abbey, infuriatingly inconsistent though it may be at times, is a comforting show. Yes beloved characters die, but in a soppy, melodramatic and soapy way. There was nothing soppy about last night. It was rough and it was upsetting and yet that scene between Anna and Mrs. Hughes was also the best the show has ever been. But was it worth it?


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