The Transfigured Role of an Aristocracy

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A new marchioness, a baby boy, and five marriages (one consummated and four budding near to fulfillment). Thus did Baron Fellowes of West Stafford choose to end his six season saga Downton Abbey this evening as the last aired episode finally reached this side of the pond. What is the chief reason for the appeal behind this most popular of PBS series? Many have cited the pageantry, the intrigue, the utter unpredictability of its characters and plot twists. But I think that the show’s extreme popularity is due to what is missing most in modern American society: a sense of old-fashioned propriety, common kindness, and a transfigured, contemporary role for an ancient aristocracy. Continue reading