I’ve been trying to figure out why Downton Abbey is so popular in America. Yes, the acting is excellent and the clothes are superb. The drama is gentle but highly engaging. The settings are beautiful. And the show is classy –it’s what Dallas could’ve been if they’d had the foresight to strip out all the Texans. But still, why does a show set in turn-of-the-century England resonate so strongly in 21st century America?
I think I’ve figured it out. It’s because we recognize one of the main characters as our own.
This is Mr. Carson, the Butler:
He’s in charge of the staff. He’s well paid and is largely his own man. But at the end of the day his primary function is serving the needs of the Crawley family and their massive estate. They are the reason he holds his high-status position, and you frequently hear him saying “Yes, m’lord.”
And he reminds us of this guy:
Governor Walker is well paid and functions independently. He’d like you to think he’s his own man. But don’t be fooled — at the end of the day his loyalty is to the Koch Brothers and similar billionaires. Where Mr. Carson makes sure the pewter get polished, Walker makes sure the unions get broken. Mr. Carson manages an estate while Mr. Walker manages a state, but they both do so to protect the interests of the rich.
And with a Presidential election coming up, Walker seems to have the best reference among the butler/governors the GOP is looking to hire.
There is one big difference, though, between Mr. Carson and Mr. Walker — Mr. Carson cares deeply about the people below him. He’s totally cool, and so is the show. I urge you to check it out.