A Good Addiction

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Addiction has a negative connotation, but I think you can be addicted to good things. To use a politically incorrect analogy, my usual drug of choice is reading, but last weekend I found a television series that rivals that addiction. I “discovered” Downton Abbey. To say I discovered it is a misnomer, because a good friend of mine who knows my tastes was surprised that I had not already become of fan of this PBS program. I am in the midst of Season 2 right now. For Mother’s Day no flowers or chocolates for me—I wanted the second season of Downton Abbey, after devouring the first.

Addiction, according to my handy-dandy Thesaurus located in my Microsoft Word Program on my computer, wears the following synonyms: habit, compulsion, need, obsession, craving and infatuation. I read somewhere that words in a thesaurus never properly define or fill in for the word you are looking up, but in this particular case, I disagree. Downton Abbey has created an obsessive need in me, as I crave compulsively the characters on the program that I have become infatuated with (yeah, yeah, I know – I am not supposed to end a sentence with with—for those of you who are purists, I will rephrase: the characters which with I have become infatuated).

English: Maggie Smith handprints in Leicester ...

English: Maggie Smith handprints in Leicester Square WC2 Dame Margaret Natalie Smith (b.1934) – Actor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love, love, love Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern. Maggie Smith is the consummate actress—you believe (even though this is just a program) that she is the Dowager Countess of Grantham, “matriarch of Downton and irrefutable authority on everything.” This woman just does not take no for an answer; she finds a solution where there is not one –except to the problem which is the cornerstone of the series (but as I have not yet watched it in its entirety, maybe  in the end she does). I will not give away this “problem” as perhaps you have not yet indulged in this television delicacy.

Elizabeth McGovern is an American on British soil, and when one is at first introduced to her, she comes across as a gentle soul—she is, but a gentle soul with a backbone of steel and brilliant mind. She marries the Earl of Grantham, and her money saves his precious Edwardian mansion. But theirs is a love story which unfolds beautifully.

The added dimension to the epic is what happens downstairs in the staff area which both complements and reflects what is happening on the main floor. It seems that there are two different worlds—but those worlds come together to create an amazingly addictive treat.

Addiction can be more gently defined as devotion or “a great interest in a particular thing to which a lot of time is devoted.” Thankfully, only so much time can be devoted to this series, as thus far (or as far as I know) there are only two seasons of this intriguing drama. The first season is pre-World War 1, the second is during the War (or at least that is where I am now).

I think as Canadians we are fascinated with the world of British aristocracy. In many ways, “Downton Abbey” makes the relationship between those downstairs to those upstairs much clearer. The aristocracy, in their own blind way, believe they are providing much-needed employment, but with that comes stigma that is hard for us to understand (i.e.—no maids were allowed to serve dinner or even be seen in the drawing room—something which eventually changes during wartime).

Pomp and circumstance? Certainly. A tale well told? Indubitably. Addictive in the best sense possible? Definitely. (I was told by another fan of the series that her family has Downton Abbey marathons.)

My Other Addiction

Currently I am reading two books that I find answer many of my questions. The first is written by my favourite rabbi, Harold Kushner, and is called “Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World”. The second is Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. Rabbi Kushner is calmly reassuring while being totally honest. Cain uses science, psychology, and real people in making her extensively researched point that introverts are often overlooked. I vary a bit with her opinion as I think we are all introverts, just some of us hide it better than others. But she has scientific research behind her hypothesis, I do not.