Monday, January 23, 2012

Downton Abbey - Aristocratic British Sex - The Plot Thickens

Meatloaf and Ann Veal's older sister share a moment. 
Alrighty youngsters, I'm halfway through season 2 now, and am ready to follow up on my introduction. It seems like everyone is broadening their sexual horizons. Lord and Lady Grantham apparently still fornicate enough for her to get knocked up at the ancient-by-those-standards age of somewhere north of 50; Anna and Mr. Bates have fallen in to some kind of platonic devotion love; (Note: I'm aware that they eventually get married and there is a love scene which I'm dreading to witness, but this is where I am at the moment) and Lady Sybil and the Irish chauffeur (forget his name) are slowly making their way into cheesy romance novel territory, but it's really sweet and the stuff I used to have wet dreams over. And there has been an actual love scene in a barn.
People are softening up and rigid exteriors are being broken up to reveal the fragile souls underneath yearning for some comfort and post-coitus cuddles. Even Lady Violet, Her Honorable Bitchness (oh how droll) is loosening up a bit. Though she remains a shining example of what will eventually and unquestionably happen to you if you remain sexually repressed your entire life. It's also nice that Downton doesn't seem to feed into the practice of allowing younger characters to be romantic and physical with each other, but letting the older characters kiss on the cheek and that's about it. 
But a lot of the sexual tension in Downton has been eradicated albeit as much as it can be for those times. We even saw some open mouth kissing between Lady Mary and Cousin Matthew which was pretty hot by British standards...Did I just describe cousins kissing as hot? Apparently. Anyway, words like 'slut' and 'tart' are starting to get thrown around, so on and so forth, I don't know if there's going to be an illegitimate child anywhere in there but god I really hope so.

But while I have you (too late?) I'm going to talk a little bit about the stereotype that British people are sexually repressed. It's totally true. On one level I'm kidding, on the other level, this is what I always seem to perceive from any film/television about British society I have ever seen from Brideshead Revisited to Monty Python. But repression is a blanket term which can include a lot of things. I like to think that even though there is a state of initial mental and physical repression, there is a rebellion against that which dominates and eventually reverses the very effect it is initially supposed to have. I'm not saying that things are ever going to take a drastic turn at Downton, even with the onset of the Jazz Age just around the corner (which is a categorically American institution, but still), there is the budding of a sexual revolution of sorts that will be more implied than acted upon, but a change is in the cards regardless. Sybil is wearing pants, Daughter #2 is driving tractors, and Mary is following her heart for once, all signs of women's sexual liberation on the horizon, and war only makes the tension escalate by adding a timeless romantic element to the whole equation.
All of this aside, one of the show's fundamental principles talking rather than doing, it's just the style the series maintains in order to sustain a sense of authenticity. Although it does make it rather hard to imagine any two people they decide to put together in any sexual situations of any kind, but perhaps that's just my lack of imagination. For example, during the first half of their relationship, every time Anna and Bates wanted to have a tender moment and steal some affection for each other they were subtly interrupted by a door opening, or one of the other staff members accidentally walking in. Anna would sigh, look at Bates with frustration and then walk off in a tiffy.
I hate to put this up next to a show like The Tudors which sexually speaking, works in completely the opposite direction by making every scenario as hypersexualized as possible, but it did cross my mind considering how many of the same actors are in both series. It's a question of subtly vs. blatancy. Let me simplify it; If Downton Abbey uses a feather, The Tudors uses the entire fucking chicken. Hence the former is more trustworthy as a historical reference of sexuality and an accurate portrayal of the social restrictions upon said sexuality during those times.More to come...(pun intended).

Great interview with Jessica Brown-Findlay (Lady Sybil)
'Downton Abbey' star Jessica Brown-Findlay talks war, romance

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