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PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 139: The Snobby Soapiness of ‘Downton Abbey’

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“Downton Abbey”! It’s a runaway hit by PBS standards. And, really, by premium cable drama standards. Which is … weird. Especially if you, like, me grew up under the specter of PBS shame, thanks to your love of “Square One.”

  • “Downton Abbey” and its surprising viewership (and, more surprisingly how many people are talking about it on Facebook  and Twitter)
  • Some theories on why “Downton Abbey” is so popular
  • Julian Fellowes, “Downton Abbey” and “Gosford Park”
  • “Downton Abbey” and its soap opera roots, which somehow seems redeemed in some people’s eyes by its patina of legitimacy
  • Some things we liked and loved in the season 3 premiere
  • Prettiness
  • More prettiness
  • Broad appeal in a period dress
  • The Titanic sank in 1912.
  • The show’s mediation of social conditions that were in place at the time
  • The “Downton Abbey” seasons 1 and 2 recap
  • Rich vs. poor dynamics in “Downton Abbey” and today
  • Static soap opera characters vs. (many) “Downton Abbey” characters
  • Whether Maggie Smith was ever a child
  • The “Haunted Mansion” movie
  • Listener mail! From Ked, commenting on so many episodes, but in particular we talk about How to Build a Gay Character for your TV Show or Movie
  • Episode link: The Snobby Soapiness of ‘Downton Abbey’

My research:

  • Zen and the Art of Adaptation
  • “Downton Abbey: Why We Love It – And Where It Went.” British Heritage, Sept. 2012.
  • “Downton Abbey: Participatory Culture and the Future of Serialized Narratives,” Marion C. Wrenn, Princeton University, presented at the PCA/ACA National Conference in 2012.

Holly’s research:

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