Like so many other loyal public television viewers out there (and by that I mean those of us who didn't know where to find the PBS channel on our television until Downton Abbey came on the scene five year ago), I too have become obsessed with the goings on in the world's most famous country estate.
I tune in weekly to see the trials and tribulations of my favorite Crawley's -- Lady Edith, Lady Rose (miss her!) and Cousin Isobel, because of whom I now refer to my own cousins with a proper title. I'm equally obsessed (if not more so) with the downstairs crew most especially Mr. Bates and Anna, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes (props to Mrs. H for keeping her maiden name to appease the Lords and Ladies upstairs) and of course jolly old Mrs. Patmore.
What I've come to realize though (and yes it took me almost all of six seasons to get there) is that despite what seems to be the very charmed and carefree lives of the residents upstairs, I'd so much rather live downstairs. I suspect as loyal viewers we are supposed to emulate the upstairs residents longing to formally dress for dinner, and having our ladies maids carefully brush our hair stroke by stroke in a manner that would do Marsha Brady proud, but I am just not feeling it. Downstairs is where the real action is.
If I lived downstairs, I'd get to prepare those lavish meals from scratch. Kind of like competing in Chopped (save the basket of crazy random ingredients and 30 minute time limit) every time some duke, doctor or honorable bloke showed up for dinner. I imagine it's still stressful, what with the way Mrs. Patmore yells at Daisy to quickly mash the potatoes while making sure to not overcook the pudding, but it's probably also invigorating and inspiring being charged with preparing those fancy meals for that fancy family.
I'm also a big fan of setting a beautiful table, and what's more beautiful than Lord and Lady Grantham's ginormous dining room table? How fun would that be to set out the linens, the silver and the flowers -- not to mention the candelabras? I'd find the best ideas from my Pinterest country estate dinner party boards and go to town. I'll admit that measuring the distance of each place setting might get old, but it does add some nice symmetry to the whole look.
Full access to Lady Mary's closet is also a big turn on for me. What a treat to peruse through the endless array of gowns, flapper dressers, headgear and antique jewelry. I wonder how the closet is organized? You think Lady M. had California Closets out to the Abbey? Doubt it. But regardless I'd be the one getting to put those outfits together every day and every night -- the Rachel Zoe of the early 20th century aristocratic red carpet if you will.
I'd also get some downtime downstairs enjoying afternoon tea and biscuits at the big farmhouse table (looks very Pottery Barn Apothecary right?) in the kitchen. I'd gab with my downstairs buddies about the mind numbing gossip from upstairs. Will Lady Mary ever find a proper suitor and why is she so freaking mean to her hardworking (yes it's all relative) sister, Lady Edith? I'd definitely make an effort to get to tea on time to grab a seat next to my buddies Mrs. P and Daisy making sure to sit far from that evil and scheming Barrow. Honestly though I'd rather deal with the downstairs evil B. than the upstairs Dowager Countess when she's in a mood.
Afterhours could be fun too once the upstairs crew has gone to bed in their proper undergarments, nightgowns and robes. Don't they get hot up there? I'd make my way over to the downstairs kitchen and raid the fridge for some of Mrs. Patmore's leftover jam tarts or raspberry meringue pudding. Perhaps Mrs. Hughes would join me and spill the juicy deets about her honeymoon with Mr. Carson? I'd also be happy to lend a fork and ear to dear sweet Anna assuring her that yes the pregnancy will last.
Then I'd head to my small but cozy downstairs bedroom and fall fast asleep knowing that I put in a solid day's work. I guess that's the doer in me -- feeling satisfied with what I created and did that day with my own two hands. I know, I know -- I will have to start the next day with a bell ringing above that kitchen farmhouse table commanding me to serve up the next breakfast, morning paper and the like. Somehow I think I'd be okay with that. Because, despite the upstairs crew ringing their bells, I'd know that I, and the rest of the downstairs crew, were really the ones in control.
The downstairs crew runs the house and the lives of those who live upstairs. I mean how could Cora fall asleep with that braid wrapped around her head so tightly that one of her eyes seems to be higher than the other? She needs Baxter to take down that hair. And how could Lord Grantham know what to fret about each day without having his morning paper delivered to him by Mr. Carson? Sure it might be fun to have breakfast in bed on one of those ornate trays once in a while, but I really think I'd have trouble finding meaning in estate walking, fireside crocheting and greeting unannounced guests in the drawing room day after day.
Not to mention the endless list of rules those upstairs residents must abide by. As a proper lady for sure, I'd have to wear my hair tied up tightly all day long and ride a horse sidesaddle wearing a skirt. And in the off chance that a handsome suitor came to dinner to talk to my father about a potential meaningless land deal, I wouldn't really be able to flirt much less make out with said suitor. Boring.
No thank you. I'll stay downstairs with my hair down, my sweet pudding leftovers and perhaps a downstairs boyfriend -- who I get to call by his surname. How great is that?