Open letter to Julian Fellowes

*WARNING* This post contains Downton Abbey *SPOILERS*.

*WARNING* This post is written by someone who LOVED Downton Abbey who swears A LOT.

Dear Mr Fellowes

I like to think because of your obvious passion for the past that you live a wifi free lifestyle. You pay no heed to these newfangled modern machines, the laptops or the smartphones. To be honest the smartphones really aren’t as smart as they think they are. They are more like overenthusiastic children who use up all their energy far too quickly and end up crashing on the sofa covered in Calippo.

You may not be aware that in recent times (last week but that’s aaaages in broadband years), there has been a movement on Ye Olde Internet to write open letters. Letters of disappointment or advice.  I’m not the biggest fan of the open letter. I’m too busy being passive aggressive to my awful next door neighbours in real life. However, after last night’s Dowton Abbey episode I feel compelled to write you such a letter with the hope that one of your more low brow chums with a computer will print it out in a fancy olde worlde font for you to read. ( I’d prefer Castro Script font just so y’know).

First of all I want to say, I absolutely love Period Dramas. I do. From Gaskell to Gatsby.

I love the restrained romance.  I love watching characters who want to say everything to each other but can only say very little. It gives such significance to every small look and gesture.

I love the slow moving drama. I love that everything is coated in subtext. I love how deeply it relies on characters to move the story forward.  Unlike soap opera where they decide the plot and then fit the characters in around them.

I love the fashion. I love the heaving yet bolted down bosoms, empire lines and fringe, I fucking love fringe.

I suppose I love period dramas because they are total escapism. A world that’s so far removed from this one, one that I’ll never experience.

I loved Downton Abbey. Truly. Alright it is Upstairs Downstairs but like an 5G upgraded version. It just felt classier and more cinematic. The sheer scale of the production is unprecedented and it’s got the utter Goddess Dame Maggie Smith who makes everything she is in 36% better. That woman would makes a whoops stickered scotch egg appetising just by standing next to it.

I think Downton Abbey was so truly beloved when it first started because it was a welcome break from a lot of British TV drama which let’s be honest, is fairly bleak. Don’t get me wrong I like a crime drama but there are only so many murdered teenage girls I can stomach per annum.

I think Downton was hopeful. No matter what happened, even when Cybil died or when Bates went to prison there was always a sense of hope and that everything would be alright in the end. So with last night’s episode in mind…


No, really.


When did you think, y’know what my sumptuous period drama needs in it? A rape!

I’m not saying drama shouldn’t be real and gritty and dark but It’s Dowton Abbey not a Shane Meadows film.

He does that shit really well. He does that shit with poignancy and truth.

The entire set up of last night’s rape scenario didn’t ring true at all. It was incredibly ham fisted.

*Enter Nigel Harman character* Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be a stock character, here for shock value!

It was quite frankly a punch in the fanny/groin to those of us who have devoted way too many Sundays of ours lives to this show and it’s characters.

You know what, Julian, I’m just soooooo bored of female characters being raped on television. I’m actually starting to feel totally numb to it now and that’s fucked. It’s just lazy, lazy writing. I don’t know what to do with this character? Kill her? Nah, don’t want to kill her off….erm RAPE HER!

It’s gotten to the point that if there ISN’T a rape on a TV drama I’m shocked.

I found an article on Vulture listing all the recent TV dramas with rape and murder in them. And those that didn’t

109 shows that did to 16 that didn’t which included Downton. Not anymore. Well done, Pal.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying telly shouldn’t depict the act of rape. It is tragically, an everyday occurrence and people should be made aware of horror and damage the victims endure through drama. Sometimes rape scenes are necessary in the context of that story (This is England ’86).

But I’m sorry, Julian. With Downton It just ain’t what I signed up for. I signed up for the escapism, for Maggie Smith FOR THE FRINGE.

If I start watching Breaking Bad I’m fully aware dark stuff will go down. That is the tone and the world of that show.

But Anna getting raped in Dowton?

It’s like Mary Poppins twerking on Burt the chimney sweep. Or Elizabeth Bennet wanking off Mister Darcy behind a Londis.


I guess I’m just sad. I feel like I’ve lost something a bit special. A little telly retreat, a storyboarded fort made out of duvet where I could have that escapism from the modern world.  Just some good old fashioned acting and good old fashioned writing without good old fashioned sexual violence against a woman. Ah well.

Think I’ll go to the pub on Sunday evenings now.

Oh, but Julian?

Stay classy though, eh?


Katie Mulgrew

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