Sunday, January 20, 2013

Downton Abbey and the Jersey Shore are the same show. Discuss.

I've been spinning outside the blogosphere since Austin. I justified to myself that the world and all of its distractions didn't need one more for a while, and I took a bloggy break. 

And the world has continued to spin. 

There was no shortage of drama while I've been out of the loop: the election, devastation on the east coast, global unrest, fiscal crises, the list continues. 

Now that it seems we're in the midst of a brief intermission, it feels like I may have reached the end of mine, at least when it comes to the blog. So relax, enjoy, and let's share this wacky ride together. 

For the time being, I simply must tell you about my most recent observation.

A few months ago, I started watching Downton Abbey. So many people I respect really like the show, and was looking for a bit of a diversion.

I had no idea what I was getting into. Watching an episode was like a drug, and at the end of each hit I needed another. Like an addict, I somehow justified the speed with which I raced through the first two seasons. Just one more, I'd say to myself.

Because the third season was starting soon. 

That was a few weeks ago. Now I'm completely hooked. And it's good stuff.

I can't wait to get my fix tomorrow. I'm public television's complete bitch when it comes to that show. I'm a servant to the Crawleys. I'm a servant to the Crawleys' servants.

Once I was all caught up on the happenings at Downton, I did a bit of catching up with everyone's friend, Jimmy Fallon. One of his recent guests was Snooki from Jersey Shore.

Prior to a week or two ago, I had no contextual reference when it came to Jersey Shore. I'd heard about it, but I'd never seen an episode; I had virtually no idea what it was about. If any of its cast members wandered into my world, I'd have assumed they were just another stranger.

But that was a week or two ago.

I took a brief trip to the Jersey Shore. I watched the first few episodes, and that's all it took.

I was hooked.

And right around the end of Season One at the Jersey Shore, I noticed something.

Downton Abbey and Jersey Shore were dangerously close to being the same show.

I know I'm offending the refined sensibilities of Downton Abbey fans by even slightly intimating that this fabulous Weekly Television Event has such a pedantic cousin. But it's true. Let me paint the picture.

This is what both groups share:

They live in a special, isolated place.

They have no particular work ethic.

They've become royalty, to different audiences.

Both groups are looking for class-appropriate matches. In Downton Abbey, servants seek servants. Higher classes look for class-appropriate matches. 

The folks who inhabit the Jersey Shore look for their appropriate comfort zones. Gorilla juice heads with an Italian lineage. No grenades.

Both groups thrive on ceremony. The primary function of Downton Abbey inhabitants is dressing and primping to stay in and receive guests. The group at the Jersey Shore ceremoniously dress up - almost every night - to go out. Appearances.

They all thrive on drama. If it's not there, they'll create it.

From England to Jersey, they're all extremely loyal, even if factions of the group are bickering.

Unlike common, modern-day culture, neither group relies on cell phones or computers. Technology, for either society, is minimal at best.

Confidences are created and destroyed. There's betrayal, challenge, ritual, artifice.

Break it down to characters, and the similarities continue. Mary and Matthew aren't unlike Sammie and Ronnie. Everyone at the Shore has their turn at shadowing the ouija board vibration of Mrs. O'Brien, and the Situation shares the ingratiating, endearing, madly manipulative shades of Thomas. 

No one can rival Maggie Smith. No one. When she comes into a scene, I want to grab a pen. Because almost everything she says drips with repeatability.

But if I were to pick anyone who has the Dowager vibe, it's Snooki. Good at heart, but hard and crusty on the outside. 

I've written more notes about these odd comparisons, but I feel I've made my case.

I challenge any Downton Abbey fan to take a stroll down the Jersey Shore. You might find you've stumbled across some distant relatives.


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