January 6, 2013, - 8:25 pm
Tonight is the much-hyped season premiere of the even more hyped “Downton Abbey,” the show set in post-World War I England. I’ve never seen the show, but it looks interesting, and I think I might catch up. Do you watch the show? If so, why? Isn’t it just another soap opera with period costumes and architecture? Or is it something more classical and reminiscent of the kind of stuff you rarely see on TV–even cable–anymore?
It seems to me that Downton Abbey probably appeals more to women. I’ve never read about any straight men watching it, other than being forced to with their wives or girlfriends controlling the remote. Am I wrong? I also don’t like helping Palestinian Broadcasting System a/k/a PBS, with its load of anti-Israel, pan-Arabist, and anti-American programming. I do like Dame Maggie Smith, the elder star of the show. She’s a terrific actress, very acclaimed in the UK and wonderful in the Dustin Hoffman-directed, “Quartet” (which I haven’t yet reviewed on this site – stay tuned for that).
I find it interesting that the American on the show, played by Elizabeth McGovern (remember her from all the ’80s movies?), has a mother whose name is Martha Levinson (played by the always annoying Shirley MacLaine), with an obvious Jewish surname. She is the mother of McGovern’s “Lady Cora, the Countess of Grantham.” And Cora’s father, the show tells viewers, is Isidore Levinson, a dry goods tycoon from Cincinnati. So, surely, she must be a Jew, right? And an English royal would never marry a Jew, particularly in that day and age (and please don’t send me the baloney claims that the current Princess Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of York, is Jewish – there’s no evidence at all of that).
Apparently, though, Judaism isn’t broached in the show because, as the Times of Israel reports, the characters are not Jews, but Episcopalians. I don’t think that would matter to the English at that time. Clearly, a guy named Isidore Levinson–at that time–would have been a Jew (especially if he was a dry goods merchant, which is what many Jews did then), and the English wouldn’t much like a half Jew seeping into the royalty. That would have been an interesting issue for Downton Abbey to explore. Not sure why the show’s writers would choose such an obviously Jewish surname if they aren’t Jewish and the issue is ignored. Sadly, it glosses over these issues, as if the English Royals, who still hate the Jews–they refuse to visit Israel and Queen Elizabeth has never been there, while she’s been nearly everywhere else, are the keenest of philo-Semites.
They are not.
So, do you watch Downton Abbey? Should I catch up on video?
Is it class or merely crass with a fancy accent and clothes, set in a palace?
Tags: Cincinnati, Countess of Grantham, Dame Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey, Downton Abbey Jewish, dry goods tycoon, Elizabeth McGovern, England, English royalty, English royalty anti-Semitism, Isidore Levinson, Jew, Jewish, Jews, Lady Cora, Lady Cora Episcopalian, Lady Cora Jewish, Levinson, Martha Levinson, Palestinian Broadcasting Company, Palestinian Broadcasting System, PBS, Shirley MacLaine, soap opera, tv shows