Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Update on Downton Abbey or Why Julian Fellowes Should Totally Hire Me As A Writer, Part 2 (The Sequel)

"I'm so happy! I've never been happier!
I'm so totally disgustingly happy!
I can't stop talking about how happy I am!" 


When we last talked about Downton Abbey, I was reacting to the episode where... 

Spoiler Alert! No really, go check the date on the milk carton. I found a yogurt in the fridge this morning that expired August 19. In fact, just stay in the kitchen, especially if you haven’t watched all of the last season, because I’m going to give away the ending. 

If you were watching Downton Abbey in “real time” last winter, then you probably heard the rumors that “something bad” happens in the season finale. So you braced yourself for it. Because if Julian Fellowes was mean enough to kill off the lovely Lady Sybil, who knows what he would do next! 

Except... well, it was kind of a let down. Actually it wasn’t a let down, it was more of a “good riddance.” Let me explain. 

You know when you’re watching a buddy movie, particularly a buddy cop movie? At the beginning of the movie, the two buddies have a conversation. One of them ALWAYS says something like this: “Today I took my kid to the first day of kindergarten while my Hot Wife stayed home with the newborn, and she just quit her job so we’re relying on one income (mine), and yeah I just bought a boat that I named LIVE-4-EVAH and if I miss a payment on that then Hot Wife will lose the house.” 

Or something like that. 

So when you hear that speech, you know, you just know, that it’s going to end badly. That guy will be so totally dead by the end of the movie. It’s an example of Dramatic Irony. 

This same principle applies to Downton Abbey. Because every other word that Matthew speaks is “happy.” 

Darling, I’m so happy! Darling, I’ve never been happier! Darling, let’s be happy like this for the rest of our lives! (etc. etc., ad infinitum) 

This is an example of the literary technique of the Writer Beating You Over The Head To Make A Point.  

If Matthew is so damn happy, you just know something bad is going to happen to him. So when he jumps into his British roadster (that he’s probably named LIVE-4-EVAH), you aren’t surprised when he meets a tractor. Not surprised at all. In fact, you are relieved, because you don’t have to listen to him declare how happy he is anymore. Because he was truly insufferable with all that happy talk. 

So here’s why Julian Fellowes should totally hire me. Because a much better way to end the season is this... Matthew and Mary are so disgustingly happy! Until one day they argue. Maybe it’s because Mary wants to do the whole Sears parenting thing, with the family bed and all that. Matthew doesn’t understand why they can’t just hand baby over to a nanny, like the rest of the British upper class. They argue! Mary throws him out of the family bed! Matthew goes home to Mama Isobel to sulk. Mary confides in Anna that she’s thinking about a divorce and starts flirting with Edith's husband. 

But one day Matthew suddenly realizes that he wants to be with Mary and the baby after all, family bed or not! He’s so happy when he realizes this that he leaves Isobel’s house and jumps into LIVE-4-EVAH and announces he’s heading off to his Hot Wife* and newborn because he’s realized the error of his ways and he must make it right! At just the same moment, Mary realizes she can’t live without Matthew, so to hell with the Sears method! But oh no, Matthew meets a tractor! Tragedy! They never get to make up! 

Wouldn’t that ending be so much more satisfying? 

*Okay, so maybe Matthew wouldn’t actually say “hot wife.” But then again, Julian Fellowes let a character say “sucking up” in an earlier episode, and I seriously doubt the British upper class used those words (in that way) in 1918. So maybe he would. 

Not happy any more.