There arose, in the comments of my previous post, both a question about, and a defense of, Downton Abbey. So, why exactly have I banned Downton Abbey? Easy: For the same reason I banned pro football in my house.
Let me explain.
I have a friend who hates his job. It’s just above entry-level. It’s not exciting, challenging, or terribly rewarding. He works with (and for) a fist of women who are fat, gossipy slobs. To make it worse: His wife is a low-level executive at a major corporation. She is the bread-winner, and his income is rather superfluous. They use it to pay off their accumulated debt.
For years, every several months, my friend would ask me: “Hey, Cane, do you think you could get me on where you work?”
“Well, you’d have to have the skills I have. You need to get training.”
And then we’d go back to our beer and cigarettes and crack jokes, or maybe he’d start telling me a story which was ostensibly about the difficulties of raising children, but was actually about how his wife doesn’t contribute enough to that process. This is, of course, assuming he got permission to come hang out with me. 
This friend is certainly smart enough to do the work I do, and his logistical skills are better than mine. He could definitely do my job, but he won’t get the knowledge. This guy knows every name and statistic of every NFL starter, and has for the past 20 years, but he can’t be bothered to get a couple certifications that I could use to sell the rest of his experience. He spends hours every day watching sports broadcasts, watching sporting news, playing Madden, listening to sports radio in the car…
The common refrain is that he needs to man up, and it’s true. Yet, he’s already keenly aware of that. The mirror tells him this every day of his life. My saying it one more time won’t do anything but confirm him of the opinion that he’d better get used to the pain of being a lesser man. So, what could I do? One thing for sure: I knew the NFL wanted my friend in this state. They want his life devoted to professional football. They want his wife working to buy more crap to justify more Super Bowl commercials. They want him fantasizing and idolizing the life other men lead. So, I said, “To Hell with the NFL.”
1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him. 4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. 9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11 and through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
To be clear: That’s my charity for my neighbor. Forgoing pro football is not an imperative for everyone who would be a Christian. It’s not the law. I’m not even recommending it.
Now that we’ve made a full circuit of my perspective you hopefully have a better idea of my perspective on the utility of entertainment, and how I judge what is good to consume. Taking this back to Downton Abbey, I wrote:
“[…] I put forward that the major dilemma of season one–Mary’s fornication and it’s, ah, resolution–was picked precisely because the one thing they [the producers of the show] knew all women can agree on is that banging a foreign prince and getting away with it is just too hot to ignore.”
To sum up the action under discussion: A Turkish noble visited the noble family in residence at the show’s title, and the eldest daughter (Mary) took him to her bed almost immediately after meeting him. That’s where he died. The women of the family conspire to hide it–not only from the public–, but the father and future suitors.
Of all the women on the show, Mary is the prettiest and the most broadly sympathetic for modern women. She’s mouthy, bored, and derisive of anything except what strikes her fancy. Because of the expense of television production, it is in the best interest of the producers to use their most enticing hook in the first season. They need to get viewers to commit to watch it every week so that the advertising companies will offer more money to run their ads around the show.
The hook is this: “Imagine being your beautiful entitled self, but in the past; back when clothes were more elegant; back when there were horses and castles; back when you could really earn a risky thrill by fornicating with the irresistible foreigner.”
The conspiracies of the women is a major theme of the show, and the first time we see fully see it is in the cover-up of Mary’s fornication. The argument has been made that what we need is more of this conspiratorial action by women; that a missing piece of today’s social puzzle is women pulling levers behind household thrones to machinate good works, and that Downton Abbey provides a pretty good template for how that works. It’s my opinion that to say such a thing is to admit to having fell for the ruse. Yes, women’s conspiracy and impudence can be put to very good use and is too often missing in the background of Christian affairs. Playing upon this truth is how they get the conservative-minded sort of folks who like a good period piece to accept it. This way they get the introverted and extroverted sluts hooked; all with Dad’s approval.
I don’t know about other households out there, but this is something to which the females of the Caldo family are remarkably susceptible. And it’s not a movie, but a series; something to which you have to make a commitment of many hours to watch and understand. Even if every episode after the first two seasons are gen-u-ine conservative hallmarks, I cannot forgive the deep cynicism used in those twelve episodes. More importantly: I’m not so stupid as to think it just flies right by my wife and daughters without whispering in their sinful and relatively undiscerning minds that they are missing out on some really good fucking and drama.
Before you start harrumphing that nearly every show worth watching has some form of perverted content in it, let me spare you: You’ve missed the point. What I ban is not based upon whether I agree with the actions of the characters, but whether I believe the show has a corrupting effect on the neighbors who live in my house. It very well could be the case that this doesn’t tempt your neighbors…but the fact that it’s a hit show–from Britain–speaks against that possibility…that and the fact that American women practice fornication almost universally.
 I adore his wife. She’s very sheep-y, and I believe would follow his lead if he took it. At least, that was true a few years ago. Now they’ve established patterns, and breaking patterns is painful even when it is helpful. Resetting mishealed bones is no work for sissies.
 Sports broadcasts and news are a double-whammy because cable/satellite is expensive. In the age of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant the only reason to have cable is for the sports. Very often one of the bills that send women to the office to act as other men’s wives is cable/satellite. It’s part of a larger cycle of pushing women to “produce” in the corporate fields so that they can be “better” consumers. Then, having developed a taste for consumption, feel compelled to “produce” to obtain and justify that consumption.