"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Downton Abbey: Not that British after all

Like you, we've been getting an ear full lately about the popular PBS series, Downton Abbey. For weeks we at Lost and Founders resisted committing to another TV show (Hoarders, Hillbilly Handfishin' and 16 And Pregnant already take up a solid 90 minutes of our weeks). But, we finally caved to all this Post-Titanic Dowager Countess Upstairs Downstairs talk and watched Season 1. We thought it might be a good opportunity to brush up on our British history. We were wrong.

Somewhere after Maggie Smith's character learned the meaning of the word "weekend", the plot lines started sounding quite familiar. We suddenly realized that these gripping tales were (unsurprisingly) borrowed from American history. Downton creator Julian Fellowes based his "Masterpiece" off the life of our very own Founding Mother, Abigail Adams (of course her nickname Abbey is misspelled in the show's title...one of the only truly British aspects of the show). While Fellowes assumed that setting his series a century ahead would prevent viewers from catching on, it's clear to any Abby expert that she and Downton have a lot in common.

All you Downton followers know that the whole series revolves around Lady Mary's dramatic love life and inevitable romance with her distant cousin, Matthew Crawley, a commonplace lawyer. Un-coincidentally, Abigail's husband, our Founding Father John Adams, was also a lowly lawyer; and, Abby's aristocratic family had similar qualms about her dating down, that is until realizing it was politically strategic for them. Maybe Lady Mary and Cousin Matthew haven't officially gotten together yet on the show, but *SPOILER ALERT* the history books tell us it's bound to happen in Season 3.

Abigail Adams was also a huge proponent of women's rights, much like Lady Sybil, and even sported a pants suit from time to time. In addition, she advocated against slavery and treated her downstairs servants like close family; so close, she even allowed them to prepare meals, sleep in the cellar, and go to war. Though we could be wrong (but probably not), it doesn't seem that Abigail has much similarity to that middle sister on Downton. What's her name again? We've determined she's just a decoy character used to draw attention away from the direct correlations between Downton and the real Abby. 

Of course we could go on citing all the obscure resemblances, but we'll leave what's to come in Season 3 a mystery for you. However, if you can't wait three years 'til Downton returns to find out if the heir Patrick Crawley comes back from the dead, we'll give you a clue: he doesn't. And the beloved estate will stay near and dear to Lord and Lady Grantham. Dying to know more? Just check out a biography of Abigail Adams. Or rewatch Gosford Park.

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