Posts tagged downton abbey
Posts tagged downton abbey
LONG POST ABOUT HISTORICAL SHIT IN MOVIES/TV.
IDK if I can even give you any recs for “accurate” historical TV shows, because I don’t think I have ever… seen any? Also, I don’t place a huge amount of value on historical accuracy in the first place. It’s hypocrisy I dislike — ie, when historical dramas make a big deal over how well-researched they are, but then totally counteract that statement with glaring inaccuracies. To me, the most important thing is that the background of a show feels convincing. My personal reaction is that it’s difficult for a show to do that when it fails to acknowledge the fact that modern-day media attitudes to character/beauty/appearances inevitably sneak in.
This usually rears its head in scenes like the one I mentioned in one of my previous posts, ie when Natalie Tena’s character gets naked in Game Of Thrones and is totally hairless. The actress has actually mentioned a couple of times IRL that she thought her character (who is pretty much a forest-dwelling hunter/gatherer who doesn’t wash or brush her hair) would have a massive bush, but the showrunners were like “Nope”, so she has a Brazillian like every other naked woman on the show. Game of Thrones isn’t even set in the “real world” so technically there’s no such thing as “historical accuracy”, but this type of detail comes across untruthful and tends to bring me out of the story.
My view is that it’s impossible to make an “accurate” historical TV show, and it shouldn’t particularly be something showrunners should aim for. Even if you don’t count impossible-to-recreate details like historical language/speech patterns (which are often translated as “British accent”, no matter what the setting of the story) and physical shit like body shape (different diet; different forms of exercise), tooth decay, disease, etc, you’d have to hire a team of anthropologists just to explain to the writers and actors how all the characters would behave. Because like, a medieval French peasant is not gonna have the same attitude towards life, death, disease, sex, religion, food, or work as a 21st century American actress, no matter how educated that actress may be.
When judging a historical TV show, your mileage may vary. Like, what do you value? At what point does “accuracy” trump entertainment? Movies like A Knight’s Tale and TV shows like Merlin are super popular, and sidestep the historical issues by ignoring it entirely — ie, people drink from medieval beer cans in BBC Merlin, and A Knight’s Tale includes an awesome David Bowie dance montage scene. There’s a definite Uncanny Valley situation here, where the closer you get to “accuracy”, the more irritating it is when the show fails. It’s kinda similar to science fiction, where it doesn’t necessarily matter if things are scientifically correct or not, as long as they’re convincing. The movie Sunshine is based on a hilariously idiotic premise to do with healing the “cooling” sun by flinging a nuke and a bunch of mirrors at it (LOL), but the film itself comes across as pretty “scientific” and overall is very compelling. And Jurassic Park is a pile of science garbage, but is still one of the most beloved and watchable blockbuster movies of the 90s.
I don’t actually watch very much historical TV so I’ve made this post rebloggable, in case you guys have any recs for razmattack? After wracking my brains a little, here are a few shows/movies I remember being pretty good:
TBH, the BBC is awash with historical dramas. They air like 3 a year, plus literary adaptations of Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare etc. I just don’t watch many of them? Hopefully one of my Tumblr followers will be able to reblog this post with some more useful recs. Someone already suggested The Crimson Petal And The White, I think? :)
My unlikely-to-occur dream (since S1, seriously) is for Downton to end with Edith finally losing her shit and burning the house to the ground, everyone dies, the end. It would be MAGNIFICENT.
oh man. such truth. in season 1, back when downton abbey was legitimately good and all the characters were pretty straightforward, i disliked edith — just as the writers intended. but now edith is pretty much the ONLY character i like. i’m super invested in her being a sensible yet awesomely rebellious 1920s feminist and either getting to marry a cool old dude or live a badass spinster existence.
Downton Abbey series 4 (spoilers): Downton Abbey at last attains sentience, devouring all within its walls in gruesome spectacle.
You know it.
I want her to run someones hand through with a hat pin whilst eating a cucumber sandwich.
if fucking only.
You know it.
Historical dramas have a symbiotic relationship with costume design, with the clothes in high-profile shows like Downton Abbey receiving almost as much coverage as the stars. I suspect that this is one of the contributing factors to the popularity of historical movies about aristocrats, since it’s a lot easier to interview Keira Knightley about corset logistics for the fiftieth time than it is to publicise a bunch of people wearing muddy pinafores and staid woollen caps. I love a good crinoline as much as the next girl, but sometimes a show about The Poors can be just as visually interesting because the costumes can illustrate more than just a statement of expense and luxury. — The Bletchley Circle, Part 2: Costume Design.
Oh, I remember this feeling! It’s frustration over Upstairs/Downstairs being cancelled while Downton Abbey will inevitably be renewed for 37 more seasons!
Downton Abbey: conservative nostalgia fantasy with a budget of millions. Upstairs/Downstairs: an equally high-quality costume drama, except it actually acknowledges the fact that most of the early -20th-century British aristocracy were sheltered bigots. I enjoy Downton Abbey in a kind of “LOL, what are you doing” kind of way, but seriously. Upstairs/Downstairs has characters like Blanche Mottershead while the entire cast of Downton Abbey is made up of stereotypes recycled from every other British country house drama + everything Julian Fellowes has ever written. Call me when one of the main characters in Downton Abbey is an opinionated lesbian academic who gives up her career as an archaeologist to fight for the rights of Jewish orphans, OK?
Maggie Smith is short for Magneto Smith.