Since we’re talking a lot about TV this week I thought I would throw my recent favorite into the mix. I love Downton Abbey. For the time period, for the costumes, and sadly yes… for the clichés.I’ve never seen a show more riddled with cliché plot lines in my life. It’s as if Julian Fellows (writer and creator) has said to his staff… find me every ridiculous cliché that’s ever been beaten to death and write a scene with it.
A list which includes:1. I can’t marry you because I’m already married but my wife is crazy and lives in an asylum. (See Jane Eyre.)
2. Watch out for the bar of soap on the floor because you’re pregnant and if you slip, you will miscarry. (Why does the person getting out of the bathtub never see the soap? Ever wonder that?)
3. Youngest daughter falls in love with chauffer. Only to get married, get pregnant and die of… eclampsia. (It’s as if no woman who died in childbirth did so from anything else.)
4. Everything is working out so well in my life. I’m so happy. I think I’ll take a drive with the top down. (I won’t tell you what happened here – but I’m assuming you can guess.)
This shouldn’t work. Anyone watching should shrug and say been there and done that and this is nothing new. But this show is a tremendous hit. It’s up for acting awards. It has a huge following.I saw that car on the road and knew immediately what was coming, but still I was riveted. Riveted and screaming at my television… Nooooo!!!!
Total cliché. Absolutely worked. Does that mean we should all revert to clichés? No of course not. I try really really hard to avoid them… like the plague.But Downton does teach us that if done well, compelling drama, can break all the rules.