Downton Abbey was fun and entertaining for the first couple of years of its existence. Even season three had it moments. But it is now in its fifth year and these last two years have been pretty uniformly awful.
The characters, who were once fairly interesting, have descended into caricature. The plots, such as they are, seem to have been devised by not very bright fifth graders. The writing and the dialogue - well, other than the occasional bon mot by the Dowager Countess, the less said the better. It is all just too staid and predictable.
This season, we have seen Mary, the golden daughter whom everyone loves and whom every man that she meets wants to get into the pants of, become even more of a self-centered bitch than she ever was in the previous seasons. I know we are supposed to think she's wonderful and hang on her every word, but when she went riding in that steeplechase last week, I was really hoping she would fall off her horse and break her swan-like neck. Maybe then the damn Crawleys might finally pay some attention to their only surviving daughter, Edith.
Poor Edith. Julian Fellowes has obviously had it in for her from the beginning and is determined that she will never be happy, but she's really the only one of the Crawleys who seems like a decent human being with some potential to actually accomplish something in the world. Maybe that's why Mary dislikes her so much and is so cruel to her at every opportunity. The self-absorbed, narcissistic Mary cannot bear to have the spotlight on anyone else.
This is a soap opera, of course, which really means that nothing is ever resolved sensibly. Characters always choose the most convoluted and outlandish and thoroughly dishonest solution to every problem that presents itself. And it means that characters can never behave decently and civilly toward each other. There must always be Drama with a capital D. There certain is plenty of that - or at least histrionics - on the show this season. The problem is that none of it is believable and I don't give a fig about how any of it is resolved.
I haven't mentioned the below-stairs family, but the same criticisms apply there, most especially in regard to the Bates and Anna storyline. Really, I am so bored with these people! I say send them both to prison and throw away the key!
So, if I dislike the show so much, why do I keep watching it? AAARGH!!!! The truth is, I don't know. Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment. Maybe I keep hoping it will finally get good again. After all, I've got all this time invested in watching it, I hate to see it dwindle into complete irrelevance. Or maybe I'm just filling that hour on Sunday night and waiting for the return of Game of Thrones.