Video: The Aristocratic Propaganda of Downton Abbey

I’ve never watched Downton Abbey. I did see Gosford Park, which is a sort of predecessor, but for all I heard a lot about the show, it never caught my interest. What does interest me is how it operates as propaganda. I knew that it cast a wealthy English family as the heroes of the story, but I honestly had no idea that it was literally written by a member of the House of Lords. The video below isn’t really commentary on whether or not it’s a good or fun show, but rather an examination of the show’s political messaging, and of how it supports the interests of its aristocratic author.


  1. chigau (違う) says

    I loved every minute of Downton Abbey.
    I’ve always been a fan of fantasy and never for one minute thought it was meant to depict this space-time continuum.

  2. Dago Red says

    Downton Abbey was a fantasy portrayal similar to, say, making an American drama about the Trump administration in which the First Family is portrayed as likeable, loving, and caring about their staff and the nation as a whole…but despite being an obvious propagandist fiction, I still loved DA a lot and re-watch it once a year or so. Aristo-trash is a great term for it.

    It was often very unintentionally hilarious and I place it more in the genre of “cult-classic” — similar to many of the anti-drug propaganda films of the past, or Christian cinema — where the attempted propaganda totally backfires and ends up making the opposite message unintentionally more poignant. The ‘aristocrat’ part of DA was, at best, a MacGuffin. The true meat was the ridiculous soap-opera-esque nature of the show. The Crawley family was a total train-wreck and their constant state of tragedy was what people tuned in to watch.

  3. says

    As I said, this isn’t commentary on whether it’s a fun show, or – to be clear – on whether anyone’s good or bad because of how they feel about it.

    It’s just a discussion of one aspect of it.

  4. says

    The headline about Downton Abbey being aristocratic propaganda (I also never watched the show) grabbed my attention because of my current reading list.

    I just started ‘The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway’. Next up for me is ‘Poverty By America’ by Matthew Desmond.

    The first is right in line with the video. This book discusses the ways that business interests have, for at least the last century of so, used their wealth to propagandize us with tales of the great free market and the evil government regulation.

    The second book’s thesis (I gather) is that poverty persists in America because so many people profit from keeping the impoverished impoverished, one of the points made in this excellent video.

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