Politics comes to Downton Abbey

Here’s a guest blog I wrote for the excellent blog site Watching Politics on Downton Abbey.

Watching Politics

By Dr. Tom Steward


In spite of myself and my left-leaning politics, I rather like watching Downton Abbey. I have a predilection for television which traces out the mundane while lurching into melodrama, probably why I enjoyed The Sopranos so much (although Downton is not nearly as good). The series has also been a vessel of cultural exchange for me and my Latino-American wife, bringing English heritage in touch with the soap opera and telenovela. Critics clamour for Downton to show more of the politics of its day (the teens and early twenties thus far) but its attempts are always so ham-fisted that I generally prefer that they don’t. Season three’s conversation about women’s suffrage felt like one of those hastily scripted and filmed responses to current events you see in soap operas, like Eastenders’ reaction to the death of the Queen Mother.

However much it may try to…

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