L-R: Married to each other, gay, gone, gone, gone, widow, widow, married to each other, widow, widow, married to each other, widow, widow (common-law), widower, gone.
This column goes out to our friend Kevin, who will institute divorce proceedings if his husband doesn’t watch the next episode with him on Monday night.
It seems that Downton Abbey, like the zombie apocalypse, will never end. And yet the series created and written by Julian Fellowes will close this sixth season. Of all the shows on TV, the one Downton Abbey reminds me of is The Walking Dead. Both are global hits that keep going strong despite the repetition of plots (They might lose their money, they don’t, they might get eaten, they don’t) and the departure of major characters, through slaughter or real-life career ambitions. (I point you to the enjoyably nutty action thriller The Guest, in which ex-Downton star Dan Stevens displays abs you could grate cheese on. Cousin Matthew! Who knew.)
More importantly, both series are about extermination and survival. True, the probability that Mrs Patmore (Lesley Nicol) will come out of the kitchen—gasp!—and devour the Dowager Countess Violet (Dame Maggie Smith) is slim, although Bates the valet (Brendan Coyle) is always getting accused of murder (Twice is not “only”, it’s a lot). However, Robert Crawley the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and his family are also trying to get by in an increasingly democratic society where people earn their keep. “What is a weekend?” Lady Violet asked in the first season. As the tetchy matriarch, Maggie Smith can invest a line with so much meaning, she makes any writer seem brilliant.
My editor tells me that The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey air on the same night, which is very considerate of the cable channels. After intense pursuit and carnage, one can decompress by gawking at the place settings and pretty clothes. (For extra posh, pronounce close as in, “The close are awl-wiz marvlous, rarely.”)
Read our TV column The Binge.