Downton Abbey: ‘Downton Abbey’ On Twitter

February 20, 2012 by staff 

Downton Abbey: ‘Downton Abbey’ On Twitter, Who’s hotter – Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, or John Bates, his valet?

Crawley, the patriarch of “Downton Abbey,” hunts with foxes, wears a white tie to dinner and has confessed his love for a minx of a housemaid.

Bates, his valet (pronounced valette, not valay) is the guy who knots Crawley’s white ties, chooses his cufflinks, polishes his shoes and has been accused of feeding his own wife rat poison.

That the question of hotness has even been asked – on blogs from the United States to the United Kingdom – is a testament to how deeply the public television series “Downton Abbey” has permeated the culture. Not just tea-sipping high culture.

Confused by what the Twitter post, “Gasp! Sybil Shows Her Ankle on ‘Downton Abbey,’ ” means?

Or why there suddenly are so many YouTube videos poking fun at people with a limp? (Bates, the valet, has a war injury.)

Or what’s behind all those online quizzes to determine if you’d live upstairs or downstairs?

The answers are on the Public Broadcasting System. More precisely, “Masterpiece Theater” – considered one of the markers of high culture in the world of public television.

Lauded for doubling public television viewership in markets including Sacramento, “Downton Abbey” has pushed “Masterpiece Theater” into the orbit of reality TV.

In a YouTube video getting traction early last week, Big Ang Raiola, of the reality show “Mob Wives,” squawks some of the most deliciously elitist Dowager Countess of Grantham lines, like: “What’s a weekend?”

Played by British acting legend Maggie Smith, the Dowager – with her verbal zingers and extravagant hats – has spawned dozens of parodies and criticisms.

Even PBS’ highbrow brethren at National Public Radio are digging into the witty dialogue of “Downton Abbey.” Linguist Ben Zimmer pointed out in a recent “Morning Edition” story that it’s not likely Lord Grantham would have said to his chauffeur, “Sorry to keep you waiting, but we’re going to have to step on it.”

English people didn’t say that in 1917.

A recent “Saturday Night Live” skit tried to explain “Downton Abbey”:

“Basically, it’s about a bunch of honkeys that live in a church. Or maybe it’s a museum. Either way, they don’t got WiFi. In fact, they only find stuff out through letters. … There’s also a whole bunch of tuxedo people who live in the basement, and their lives suck.”

Tonight’s final episode will be feted today with a champagne tea at the KVIE studios in Sacramento.

For $150 a head, guests can sip champagne served by butlers with silver trays, have their photograph taken against a backdrop of the manor house’s grand dining room and go home with DVDs of the first two seasons.

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