Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Do you get turned off by TV drama?

Last week, I decided to stop watching Downton Abbey, the television drama which chronicles the trials and triumphs of an aristocratic English family and their servants. I was discouraged by the last episode, S4/E4, where Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt), a lady’s maid to the Crawley family, is raped by a visiting valet in the deserted servants’ quarters while everyone is engrossed in a performance by a famous opera singer.

© ITV
Until the crime, Anna and John Bates (Brendan Coyle), her husband and butler to Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, were the perfect couple—madly in love, fiercely caring and loyal, kind and thoughtful, and of charitable disposition. They have had their share of trouble in the wrongful conviction of Mr. Bates for the murder of his ex-wife. He spends weeks on death row before Anna investigates and finds proof of his innocence. Mr. Bates is released and they are back in Downton where the two lovebirds rent a cottage and live happily.

And then the rape happens and their happy little world comes crashing down, and with it my interest in the television drama.
 

© ITV
Couldn't the makers of this refined soap opera have at least spared the Bates? Weren't they content with the many instances of misfortune and tragedy that strikes both the Crawleys and their servants? Why drag Anna and John into it?

The fact that Anna and Mr. Bates continue to share a beautiful relationship, in spite of the heinous crime and its sad aftermath, wasn't enough. They ought to have been left alone. Maybe, I'm getting old and sentimental. The family explained that the makers of Downton Abbey were being realistic and that such things happened to normal people in real life, so why not to characters in a television show. It was merely part of the script. I wasn't convinced. 

© ITV
I think a part of me wanted the goodness and perfection represented by the Bates to go on forever; perhaps, because we see far too much of the opposite of the two virtues in the real world.

I don’t recall the last time I was so affected by something I saw on television or in film. Maybe, this is why.

Two episodes later, when Mr. Bates finds out what happened to Anna that night and why she had distanced herself from him, this is what takes place between them.


Anna: But I am spoiled for you, and I can never be unspoiled.

Bates: You are not spoiled. You're made higher to me and holier because of the suffering you have been put through. You're my wife and I have never been prouder nor loved you more than I love you now in this moment.


It was an affecting scene and I was glad, at least, the makers of Downton Abbey had maintained the sanctity of the Anna-John relationship.

Does this sort of thing happen to you?

26 comments:

  1. I guess I have lost interest in some series, though nothing quite so dramatic has been responsible for a lack of enthusiasm over-coming me.
    I used to love HOMELAND - first couple of series, but I kind of switched off during the third, indifference probably. I'm sure there have been plenty of others over the years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Col, I'm not sure HOMELAND has been telecast in my part of the world but I could be wrong. THE MENTALIST is currently getting top billing.

      Delete
  2. It happens a lot with me. The latest is HOUSE OF CARDS. Just don't care anymore. Heading back to books. TV has become stale or a series of shocks and i just don't give a hoot for their "reality" when mine is enough. I go to escape reality not have my nose rubbed in it constantly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick, thanks for visiting and commenting. Your last line reflects my view about television dramas. I saw a couple of episodes of HOUSE OF CARDS but didn't care for it much.

      Delete
  3. Not having watched Downton Abbey yet, this came as a spoiler, but I should have realized. Whichever, the point you make is valid, drama seems to demand, in television, that things be dark and foul much of the time. I guess the audiences that drive ratings want it that way and have no use for happiness or joy, unless it's disguised as brainless comedy.

    It's why we watch very little television, mostly just some sports, a reality show (AMAZING RACE) and Public Television shows like NOVA and PBS NEWS HOUR. Like the commenter above, I want to be entertained, not have my nose rubbed in negative stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard, I'm sorry I spoiled it for you but there is a lot of other drama in DOWNTON ABBEY touching every character in the serial. I seldom watch serious television. I mostly watch a sitcom or two, nature and wildlife shows, and movies on the weekend.

      Delete
  4. I'm not watching a lot of TV at all anymore, but I do agree, that after a while, the drama just becomes too much to deal with.

    I'm actually dealing with that in regard to Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs books. The drama and turmoil is starting to take a toll on me, and from what I can tell, a lot of other bloggers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ryan, I have never had a problem with books, however dark and depressing. Films and television don't affect me either but this one certainly did. I'm not familiar with Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs books but I'll see what they're about.

      Delete
  5. Prashant: I did not find that part of the saga overly dramatic. There is a subsequent story line that I found stretched reality. I still love the series. It has a complexity rare in T.V. series. Every family has their troubles. I think the series needs drama upstairs and downstairs to be interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, the family remains glued to DOWNTON ABBEY while I have lost the thread since last week. I did watch an episode and found that it's easy to piece the events together; perhaps because there aren't too many characters.

      Delete
  6. That's about when I stopped watching it. She is just too sweet to endure what the script throws at her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patti, I thought they deserved a better deal. The incident made the series kind of unsavoury for me.

      Delete
  7. Have not seen Downton Abbey, but I understand where you're coming from. I used to be less bothered by this stuff, but find myself avoiding heavy drama. Maybe it's because I'm getting older :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fleur, frankly, I didn't see it from that point of view but now that you mention it, on-screen rape or sexual molestation would bother a lot of Indian viewers considering the times we live in.

      Delete
  8. You are definitely not alone - many of my friends who are diehard fans of the show have said pretty much the same to me actually - they'll have to work very hard in the next series to win people back I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sergio, I have never discussed DOWNTON ABBEY with my friends or colleagues, so I don't know who is really watching it. Besides, it hasn't received much publicity in the Indian press which makes me wonder if American and British television dramas no longer appeal to viewers. On the other hand, sitcoms are a hit.

      Delete
  9. I do get put off of series - often long before the makers get sick of making them. But not in this case...I thought they handled this particular storyline with sensitivity and really liked the whole way they dealt with it, including the scene you quoted where Bates declares his enduring love for his wife. I know it'd be nice for some characters to avoid hardships but this is a glorified soap opera after all

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bernadette, thanks for visiting and commenting. I agree, that particular storyline was handled with "sensitivity" although I wish it wasn't there at all. The Anna-Bates casting is perfect, as is the chemistry between them. It's nice to see most of the characters, both among the Crawley family and the staff, being supportive of one another.

      Delete
  10. Oh for sure, Prashant. I get put off by series all the time. I stopped watching THE GOOD WIFE when they killed off a major character. I lost interest in PERSON OF INTEREST when they changed the direction of the show AND killed off a major character. I stopped watching DOWNTON ABBEY after the first year because...well, simply because I lost interest in the show when I saw where they were going with Bates. I also had no interest and no affinity for the young women (surely two of the most uninspired and boring actresses around) and was repulsed by the actions of the evil housekeeper when she got the Earl's wife to fall down the stairs and lose her baby. No thanks. At first I liked the Earl and Bates but then I simply walked away.

    This also happens to me if I lose the thread of the story as I did in the series, HEROES - which, annoyingly, should have been a fabulous show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yvette, I don't like the Earl of Grantham much although I don't mind Mr. Bates who'd do well to keep a lid on that temper of his. There are some nice characters in the series like the cook, Mrs. Patmore, and the lady in charge of the female staff, Mrs. Hughes. I think Maggie Smith lifts the series with her facial expressions and subtle humour. Ms. O'Brien, the "evil housekeeper" you referred to was actually a lady's maid who deliberately kicks a bar of soap so that a pregnant Lady Grantham, stepping out of the bathtub, would slip on it and lose her baby.

      I have not seen the serials you mentioned, Yvette, though I'd take a look at HEROES if I could.

      Delete
  11. I have to admit I skipped most of this because we are not near to this point in the series. I don't like to know anything in advance if I can help it. That is what we get for stopping at Season 2. We have Season 3 but have not been in a hurry to watch it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy, I hope I didn't spoil it for you. I touched on just one aspect of this series because it bothered me. The good thing about DOWNTON ABBEY, at least until I last saw it, was that bad times don't last long.

      Delete
  12. I did not like this storyline in the series, I was very put off by it. I keep saying I will stop watching Downton Abbey, but then keep on watching it.... the next series may be the last one for me! (but maybe not...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Moira, I don't watch it through the week, like I used to initially. Now I catch an episode or two and it's enough to tell me what's going on. There's not much of a storyline, really.

      Delete
  13. I don't watch much TV, never have, but I like the BBC comedy shows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oscar, we used to get BBC comedy shows on government-run television which was long before privatisation and cable.

      Delete