Wednesday, August 8, 2012

For the Love of Downton Abbey, Michelle Dockery and Etiquette

Teaching etiquette has always been rewarding, but teaching to teens is probably the most fun.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they are practically dragged in to my classes by their parents, but within the first 20 minutes, they completely change their attitudes.  I love to see their posture change.  To hear them laugh.  To see them enjoying the class.
Guessing foods the utensils are used for eating or serving
Please don't get me wrong on this; I love teaching to all ages, from kindergarten to seniors.  But teaching to teens seems to be something that I enjoy, as I felt so clumsy and had so very limited knowledge of etiquette when I was a teen.  Like almost all teens, I wanted to fit in and be accepted.  That is hard to do when one has no sense of manners and social customs.  Add to that, the fact that I remember everything (much to my chagrin) and I can still recall how absolutely stupid I felt in social situations.  I pass that on to teens and let them know that they are not alone.  I also feed them.  That helps get teens to relax, much more than people know.
Practicing how to hold utensils before having "seconds"
A few days ago, I blogged about Corey Peterson and his best friend Hannah.  He is the Downton Abbey/Michelle Dockery obsessed 14 year old from New Zealand.  I confess I thought it was really odd that a 14 year old had become such a fan of the show.  I interviewed him about Downton Abbey and how he became a fan. Below is my interview with Corey.
Maura- You weren't interested in watching the show from the commercials and you didn't watch the first season of the show. What made  you watch Downton Abbey's season 2 of the show?  It is not normally the type of show that would appeal to most teenage boys, yet it obviously appeals to you.
Will Anna and Mr. Bates ever have their happily-ever-after?
Corey- I didn’t watch Downton because I thought that it was some silly show about someone (Matthew Crawley) traveling back in time because he said something about "the weekend" and the Dowager was confused about what a weekend was! What captured me was an ad I heard on the radio... One line they said was “I heard Anna was crying her tears into a bucket as she mopped,” or something along those lines... And that stayed with me until I got home! When I got home, I saw the preview for the first episode of Season 2 and I asked my Grandparents if I could watch it, and they said I could... It was the war scene that grabbed me! No! I only recently found out one of my friends liked it! I was so surprised!!  Matthew Crawley grabbed my attention, as he was being strong and brave on the front... I also was intrigued by Anna as I felt sorry for her, even though I didn’t know why she was sad. She made me upset just with her acting! I was sitting on the couch, right on the edge, biting my nails thinking “don’t die!” I loved the characters and the costumes as well as the house... That kept me watching! I have been told many times that I am not a usual ‘teenage boy...’  I love history, old music and I prefer to help others instead of playing sport or getting dirty! I have only ever met one teenage boy who likes Downton... But I have met a few adult men who like it!
 
Maura-  Which character do you relate to the most?  Who seems to talk like you would if you were in that situation?  Or a similar situation? Who do you relate to the most, and why?  Example; I cannot fathom why Daisy acted like such a 'dumb-bunny' about "not wanting to lead William on" when he was dying. I could totally relate to Mrs. Patmore. I would have given Daisy the same advice from start to finish.  Or when Mrs. Patmore helped the other cook feed those men who were going hungry.  I would have done the same thing.  I actually have done things like that for homeless adults and kids.  So though I look nothing like Mrs. Patmore, and I have never been a servant, I relate to her.  The closest I have come was when I worked briefly as a live-in nanny for 4 kids when I was 20.  The woman needed help, so I stepped in.  Who are "you" at Downton?  Or who is someone you know?
Daisy with Mrs. Patmore and William
Corey-  I think I relate to William the most. William said things I would say, a lot. He was always happy and friends with everyone (though I am not friends with everyone!) as well as being a gentleman to all the female servants and being friends with Bates. He cared and loved his Mother, and he was brave when she passed... I know I couldn’t be as brave as him! I also wouldn’t have been as brave as him when he enlisted. I have a fear of war! I think I relate because he was young and still developing into a man. I think Daisy should have listened to Mrs. Patmore but then, as Mr. Mason (William’s Father) said, “it gave him the thrill of the chase.” and I think that’s what kept him alive! Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Patmore’s friendship led to the soup kitchen being successful and I think it was good of Her Ladyship to help, as well as supply the food. I think more people should help others; I would if I could afford it. You certainly don’t look like Mrs. Patmore!! I think she is a great ‘Mother’ figure for Daisy and that she is very level headed! I would love to be a butler in a stately home one day, even if it’s only a few years. The me at Downton is William, and my friend who likes Downton, is definitely a Lavinia. (Though, she prefers Lady Sybil/Nurse Crawley more than Lavinia) They both have red hair and are both very pretty. My friend is also rather shy, as is Lavinia.
Daisy and William
Maura- Which character, or characters, do you feel have changed the most, or grown the most, since the beginning.  Is there a character that has not grown as a person, even though there was a horrible war and then that flu? Example; That changed many lives in real life.  My great-grandfather died in that epidemic.  My grandmother was a young girl.  It changed her entire world.  Her mother remarried, and her new step-father really took to her younger sister.  Maybe it was all in her head, but she believed that her younger sister was the step-father's favourite.  We will never know, but that death changed everything for my grandmother.  

Corey- I think that Lady Mary has grown a lot! She was a little bit blind to the way others lived and I feel after the convalescent home was at Downton, she became more mature and it opened her eyes more. I feel Thomas hasn’t grown much at all. He got himself shot in the hand so he could come home!? And he kidnapped his Lordship’s dog!! He also dabbled in the black market, which blew up in his face, quite literally! It is unknown, but we think my second Great Grandmother died also, but she died in 1917? I was reading an interesting article in a magazine about the Spanish Flu and when it hit New Zealand. We were very unprepared!
The Tally: Lady Mary - One Turk , Spanish Flu - Millions Worldwide
Maura- Has a character ever acted out of character on the show? Something happened in Season 2 that really bothered me, as the person acted totally out of character.  It didn't fit.  Maybe the writers felt it didn't work after they saw it air, and they quickly stopped that story line? It was over quickly, but it seemed odd to me and those who watched it with me.  It was normal, almost expected behavior, in that era.  But not for this particular character.  Do you recall something that just seemed "off" in either season.  If so, with what character and why? Was it resolved to your satisfaction?
 
Corey- I didn’t really notice any 'out of character' moments, but I did notice when I was re-watching both seasons, a television aerial and yellow lines on the corner. The servants were too ‘clean’ for servants too. Servants didn’t have showers often, maybe once a week,  and normally the upper servants would meet in the housekeepers’ pantry (name?) and then they would walk in, in the order of rank, example: The Butler, then Housekeeper, Chef and then Lady’s maids/valets. Carson didn’t seem as formal as a butler would be. Well that is my personal view! I think he would have been stricter and normally the table layout would be different; Butler at the head, with male servants on his right, ordered by rank and then the housekeeper at the other end with the female servants on her right, also ordered by their ranks. Things like that got to me a little. Also the fact that the servants had a lot of ‘free time’ and were sitting around! But I still love the show!! Actually just thinking about it, Thomas wouldn’t have asked a lower servant to the fair, would he? He is higher ranked than Daisy.
Carson, the Butler  Wait...What?!? No! Wrong one!
Correct "Carson, the Butler"
 Maura- Do you think a character is not fully developed?  Or is really interesting, but has never gotten the storyline he, or she, deserves?

Corey- I think that Jane was not as developed as I would have liked. If I recall rightly, she was only in 2 episodes and then she left!? I know she did kiss his Lordship, but we didn’t meet Freddie or get to know her. I would love to see her return in Season 3, though it is highly unlikely.




Maura- Do you think Matthew and Mary have on-screen chemistry?  Do they look believably "in love"?  If not, who do you think does? Who could you totally see as a real-life couple?  Why?


Corey- I do! I am a Matthew/Mary worshipper, so of course I am going to say 'yes'! They play a good couple actually and I think they are great together. I think Anna and Mr. Bates also have on-screen chemistry, as well as Branson and Lady Sybil. I could see Allen Leech (Branson) and Jessica Brown-Findlay (Lady Sybil Crawley) being a couple in real-life.
Lady Sybil and The Chauffeur

Maura- Who is your favourite villain? Why?

Corey- Thomas! He kidnapped a dog and locked it in the gamekeepers shed!? He also stole wine from the butler’s pantry and then blamed Bates!? Mr. Bates isn’t that type of person! But the worst thing he did was when William going to ask Daisy to the fair and just as William went to ask... Thomas got in there just as he went to ask!! I wanted to wring his neck... And then Bates swoops in and saves the day! It was so perfect when he had Thomas up on the wall!

What if Thomas was played by a dog?  From "Dogster.com"
 Maura- Who is your favourite hero or heroine? Why?

Corey- My favourite hero is William!  He jumped in front of Matthew and took the bullet! He saved Matthew. I think that if he hadn’t done that, Matthew wouldn’t be living. It may have been the opposite, William with Matthew’s injuries and Matthew dead. He is just a great guy, I cried when he died. I wish he didn’t have to die!


Maura- Why do you think period dramas like this have touched such a nerve with society?  Why are these dramas so popular?   The creator of the medical drama I watch is now making a period drama show "a la Downton" called  "Gilded Lillys" about an 1895 era hotel in New York.  Why are these so popular?  Even movies that are period dramas and fantasies with the wealthy and poor, the good and bad, the costumes, the clothing, the manners... Why the sudden appeal across all age groups? Do you have a theory?

Corey- I think period dramas have touched us so deeply because it was really wasn’t that long ago! With Downton, the first episode was set exactly 100 years ago, and a lot of the audience’s grandparents or great grandparents lived in that time period. Some even worked in houses like that! It shows the way they lived, without modern appliances. We take things for granted now and I said in my school speech on “Life in Service, pre-WWI”,  my generation doesn’t know what hard work is!

We think that it is going to school for around 6 hours a day, 5 days a week hard. Servants would work from around 6.00am to around 12.00 am some days!! We also have a weekend. Servants would be lucky to get a half-day off, a month! Then we have holidays! Like I said, it wasn’t actually that long ago! The show struck a chord with me, as I love history and England. I also think it may have something to do with who is in the show... Michelle Dockery!
 
Michelle Dockery aka Lady Mary






6 comments:

  1. "The Tally: Lady Mary - One Turk , Spanish Flu - Millions Worldwide"
    LUV IT! And the wrong Carson the Butler?!? Too funny! Along with a really nice interview.

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  2. I found this to indeed be most entertaining. An amusing diversion before I go to tea.

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  3. Awesome that guys like it especially a fellow Kiwi. I am fifteen and loving every minute. Can't wait for season 3!

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    1. I think it is pretty awesome too! Actually, it surprises me that more young men aren't big fans. Men had almost all of the rights in that era, especially if they held titles and owned land. And throughout history, it has been mainly men who came up with the manners and etiquette, for differing situations. I am sure mothers and wives gave their opinions, but ultimately it was the men who made the decisions.

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  4. Great interview! So enthusiastic for a young man of today. I hope he keeps it up!

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  5. I know of at least 4 men who like it, but only one is a teenager! I have a group at school, off the main group, who love DA so we always end up talking about it... Some of the teachers and I end up doing the same too!

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