TV & Movies

"I've Never Watched Downton Abbey—And Never, Ever Will"

On the heels of the news that the Downton movie will def be produced in 2018, Jennifer Berry finally comes clean about her period-drama hatred

One writer on why news of the Downton Abbey movie is prompting her to confess that she's never watched the show
When news that the Downton Abbey movie script had been written and the movie was probs going to be filmed in the near future broke back in March, I broke out into a cold sweat. Twitter was amped, my Facebook feed was vibrating with the news and I was like, “Yeah, that’s sooooo exciting!”—then frantically searched for my “Downton for Dummies” flash cards. You see, I’ve never watched Downton and it’s long been my low-key entertainment shame. And with the most recent news that the movie is def, def happening in 2018, my Downton disgrace has been reignited once more.

When the show was airing on PBS, I was left out of water cooler and brunch convos as colleagues and pals debriefed the previous night’s episode, so when the series ended in 2015, I was straight stoked. No more trying to move the conversation in a different direction when it inevitably drifted to all things Downton! Never again would I have to perform a panic-driven Google search of words like “dowager”! No more having to explain that although I love primetime soaps and romantic fare in most genres, I’m just not into period stuff! Not one more incredulous “You don’t watch Downton Abbey?!” squeal as I’m looked upon like some kind of science experiment gone wrong!

But as I’ve gotten more, ahem, mature, it’s gotten harder to hide my true pop culture predilections. I know what I like in life, love, career, and yes, TV. A dark, stylish, thought-provoking drama chock full of the chicest actresses and a dash of murder mystery? Sign. Me. Up. Twenty-two minutes of smart female-driven comedy? Sold! A cry-bait family dramedy that makes me weep every damn time? Obvi. An hour of tightly wound Brits talking in hushed tones (even if my beloved husband Matthew Goode is involved)? I cannot. Even the promise of a steamy sex scene a la Outlander isn’t enough to get my eyeballs on the screen. (And BTW, my best friend thinks I’m an actual alien for having never watched that beloved show.)

One writer on why news of the Downton Abbey movie is prompting her to confess that she's never watched the show

(Photo: Nick Briggs)

And, yes, in my line of work I happily consume tons of entertainment content including some—in the spirit of research and staying so very fresh—that might not be my first choice—tough problem to have, I know—and I’m frequently surprised by the stuff I love that I didn’t necessarily expect to (Stranger Things comes to mind). But when it comes to period dramas, I’ve given them enough chances to know my tastes. I don’t need to feel shy about not watching shows, even if they are beloved properties, just to “fit in.” I can’t pretend to care even remotely about Downton anymore and that’s okay. So consider this both a confession and a DGAF proclamation—my level of interest in Downton Abbey falls somewhere between “full Brazilian” and “frontal lobotomy” and no, I didn’t watch it.

But if you love the stiff Downton upper lips and are beyond jazzed about the forthcoming movie, I won’t judge you, either. I hope you grab your finest tea set, steam your petticoats, dust off your watch fobs (legit no idea what those are) and enjoy. Just don’t judge me for cry-watching This Is Us.

P.S. I’ve never seen Pride and Prejudice either. Even the universally lauded The Crown didn’t take. It feels so good to finally share.

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