Downton Abbey Explained, Sort of

I’ve heard only positive reviews of Downton Abbey from everyone who watches the PBS series, so when I happened upon an episode the other night, I thought I’d give it a whirl.


I’ve caught episodes of ABC’s Scandal, and Revenge, here and there, and even though I didn’t really know what was going on, I could kind of get the gist.

I cannot say the same for Episode 6 of Season 4 of Downton Abbey.

On Scandal, I think Olivia Pope is a “fixer” who manages to keep lots of secrets while she and the President of the United States try to contain their lust for each other.


Revenge is about Emily Thorne aka Amanda Clarke, trying to exact revenge against Victoria Grayson, the woman who tore her family apart when she was a child.


But all I could figure out by watching Episode 6 of Season 4 of Downton Abbey is that His Earlness had to go abroad, and, for some reason that everyone seemed to know but pretended not to know that I didn’t know, his valet could not accompany him. His valet was replaced by a man who seemed to be a VIT (Valet In Training.)

There was much talk amongst the kitchen wenches, and between several very thin women who all seemed to know the truth about the valet.

I, on the other hand, was not made privy to it. Even if I were, I wouldn’t have understood anyone anyway – –  and that was before Maggie Smith’s character developed bronchitis.

maggie smith

There were several Americans in the mix I could understand, but that didn’t help me learn who they were, why they were residents of Downton Abbey, or why the valet couldn’t travel abroad with His Earlnessless.

Later, a very thin women sat in a boat being rowed by a very handsome man of color. It became increasingly obvious they were attracted to one another and eventually kissed.

Now, I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies, but I’m pretty sure an interracial tryst between a black man and a thin white woman who resided at the Abbey in the early 1900’s would most certainly be frowned upon. Just a guess.

Nearly every scene mentioned the much anticipated arrival of pigs. I assumed “pigs” was a British term referring to the many lustful young men in the series, until I saw a scene where there were real pigs (the actual animals) on the grounds of the Earldom.


But, as soon as the man who was outside looking at the pigs (again, the actual animals) showed concern on his face while crouching down to the ground, I changed the channel before I was forced to see either a sick or dead pig.

It was easy to leave Downton Abbey behind. I had spent nearly an hour with the characters, yet knew nothing about them, or how they related to one another.

I strained to understand every word they said, and I never found out why the valet couldn’t travel with His Earldomness. Therefore, I gave not a tiny rat’s arse about them, the Abbey, or why it was crawling with pigs and bronchitis.

I should just watch the entire series from the beginning, as friends have recommended.

The channel I landed on happened to bring me to another manse filled with British aristocracy, but, thankfully, I was able to understand what the characters were saying.


But The Royals offered little dialogue.

I arrived into the world of The Royals in time for two parties. One was a masquerade ball being thrown by Queen Helena, who wasn’t quite ready to receive her guests because she was receiving something quite different from a man in her bed.

As the Queen and this man emerged from her bedchamber, they kissed and looked at each other as only lovers do, which was a dead give-away that he was not the King.

The Queen’s butler witnessed the kiss, but his discreet, yet knowing look revealed he had been in (or possibly, even unwittingly come upon) this, and many other positions before.

The butler handed Queen Helena her royal crown so she could entertain the rest of her guests, most likely not in the same way she had just entertained her paramour.

As she turned to leave, she glanced back but, alas, her lover was gone. She replaced the royal crown with the simple, yet elegant wreath of flowers he had given her.

But, Queendom called, so off to the party she went, which was a good thing, because after all she was the hostess of this masquerade ball and, although her royal identity might have been veiled by a mask, she actually did have to show up.

The next scene took place at the other party,  thrown by Princess Eleanor, who I gathered was allergic to clothing. The party was, in essence, an orgy. There were definitely pigs at this party, but not of the livestock variety.

Princess Eleanor

When I woke up the next morning, every so often a scene from one of the pieces of fine cinema I had witnessed the night before insisted upon being replayed in my head.

But, because each show involved royalty, secrets, affairs, and pigs, I became easily confused. Did Maggie Smith participate in a pig orgy? Highly unlikely. If so, I’d need to extract my brain, lather, rinse, and repeat.

I will eventually watch Downton Abbey, mainly to find out if that pig survived, but I will give The Royals a flush.

I think I‘ll just stick to reruns of “Friends,” and “The Big Bang Theory” because I’ve seen each episode so many times, I don’t confuse Central Perk with the California Institute of Technology, or a W.E.N.U.S. with a swirling vortex of entropy.

On Friends, Chandler Bing works for a computer processing company. The W.E.N.U.S. is the Weekly Estimated Net Usage System. There is also an A.N.U.S., or Annual Net Usage System.
Penny hands Leonard her keys and asks Leonard and Sheldon to bring a package into her apartment while she's at work. Noticing how messy her apartment is, Sheldon wants to clean it. Leonard says, "Sheldon, this is not your home." Sheldon says, "Look, this is not anyone's homr, this is a swirling vortex of entropy!
In the show “The Big Bang Theory,” Penny hands Leonard her keys and asks if he and Sheldon would bring a package into her apartment while she’s at work. Noticing how messy her apartment is, Sheldon wants to clean it. Leonard says, “Sheldon, this is not your home.” Sheldon says, “Look, this is not anyone’s home, this is a swirling vortex of entropy!