Friday, March 22, 2013

What "Dynasty" never did for me


Something I've noticed after devouring the first two seasons of "Downton Abbey" is the reliance on the postal service.  This is important to me, as in the days before electronic communication I was an enthusiastic and inveterate letter writer.  I wrote letters to my brother, my friends, people I'd met on my travels and my heart beat with excitement at the arrival of the mail each afternoon. Those days are long gone, but I watch with admiration, as the Crawley family breakfasts each day while reading letters that have arrived via the morning post.  There are more letters in the evening post, and when one arrives, everyone drops whatever they are doing to open the letters.  What's more, everyone is constantly dropping whatever they are doing--and in the case of the Crawleys, I realize it's not so much--to go off and write to someone.  Even if that someone lives in the neighborhood.  ("We'll have them come to tea.  I'll write to them at once.")  Characters, from the lowliest house maid, to the Earl himself, are seen reading letters and writing them with daily frequency.  This reading and writing extends into the social arena: letters are frequently being discussed, read aloud, and shown to others.   There is frank curiosity expressed when letters arrive: a look of anticipation and expectancy crosses every face as letters are opened.  Rarely do characters take their letters and leave the public space, unless there is a secret to be kept.  The epistle as presented is surely to provide verisimilitude in "DA" and also to provide plot movement.*  I found inspiration in it. I wrote not one, but two letters in the past day.  I am hoping it takes, as several times in the past few years I have taken up the banner of letter writing, decrying the overreliance on email and facebook and urging my friends to write, on paper, with pen.  I am, once again, looking towards the letter box with happy anticipation, an emotion my email inbox has never quite elicited.
   I am also inspired by "Downton Abbey" to begin dressing for dinner.  I won't, of course.  It's all I can do to keep from putting my pajamas on before 8 p.m. and crawling into bed to get prone with The New Yorker, but I'm inspired nonetheless.  Having those fabulous clothes would help that inspiration along, naturally, as would a maid to help me dress and do my coiffure, a cook to make the dinner, a butler to serve it (dear Carson!), and a kitchen crew to make the mess vanish.  A woman can dream, can't she?

*I've thought a bit: could letters be considered symbolically here?  The answer is probably not.  While the writing in "DA" is probably better than the typical Harlequin Romance, I cannot spend another moment considering the writer's intent here.

1 comment:

  1. haha! I love this. I've seen only seen one episodeo of DA, so I can't comment on the show. However, your description sounds like an antiquated version of today's kids sitting around with their iPhones in their hands and saying, "did you see what Carson posted on FB? " Maybe that's what the writer's intent is, that our need for communication and knowing the business of others has always been a bit obsessive as it is now with our iPhones and facebook. Am I way off of on this?