I know, already you’re annoyed with me. But I’m annoyed with the finale of Downton Abbey and the problem is this: Barrow. He was given no love interest. Not even the sneaky-side-smile potential love interest like used-to-be-a-chauffer and now he’s a son Tom and modern-woman-editor managed. And he was all gratitude and damp-eyed obsequiousness each time he was being lectured or condescended to by one or another of those others already or about to be granted the hetero-happy-ending by Julian Fellowes’ auteur-wand.
It was particularly galling to me when each member of the unctuous duo of self-righteous Bates-bots of misery-magnets told him to be nicer. REALLY?
I complained about this. Loudly. I was told, “Well, Barrow did some horrible things along the way. He was a villain.” Hold on there, chappie. Mary? She was some sort of saint? The Dowager Countess? Above reproach? And the Bates-team? Insufferable whining, whinging wastes of space for all six seasons. Don’t even “villain” with me.
Then, “Well, in that day and age, his love-interest options would have been very limited. I mean, it wouldn’t be realistic.” Honestly, did you just play the realistic card on me in reference to a show that is almost entirely fantasy and flummery? Like Edith and her out-of-wedlock spawn would actually ever have been accepted by Lord or Duke or whatever the hell title Bertie was and then embraced by his 1940s black and white film cliche mother? Or, seriously, Mary’s hubs and ex-chauffeur would join up to sell used cars? USED CARS? Or, activist-pain-in-my-ass-Daisy and the pig farmer father-in-law with the contested and won cottage from which were evicted the foster-parents of Edith’s offspring (who, by the way, were beneath mention when she was telling papa about all the people who knew the secret) and . . . just, come on – REALISTIC? Just because they had British accents and pretty clothes didn’t make it real, fool. Downton was no more realistic than Dynasty or any other soap — so WHY WAS BARROW DENIED HIS HAPPY-ENDING LOVE INTEREST?
Then, “Well, he got to come back to Downton and be head butler.” Oh, well, that. Yes, he now gets to enjoy a life of servility and sycophancy, catering to the needs of others, putting them always first, properly-humbled by his past attempts (villainy, as you called it) to find something, some place, some way to actually express who he was. Silly man. Now he can spend the remainder of his life being who they — all those others — need him to be so that he’s allowed to stay and serve. Know one’s place, I believe it’s called. Yes, like an African-American in days of yore? Like women in — still? Yes, as long as those of us who are not caucasian heterosexual men of a certain class stay where we belong and don’t interrupt you, we can stay in our boxes — and we ought to be grateful for that, right?
Who are you, Donald Trump? Fuck that noise.
The plots Barrow got had to do with unrequited longing, self-hate, getting the shit beat out of him, and slitting his wrists — which, it seems, made him into a saint. Yes, that’s it poofter, try to kill yourself and we’ll all make a little effort to imagine what your life must be like. I call bullshit.
It is this kind of homophobia — more pernicious than anemia — that is killing me, that has permanently altered my life course in ways that have cost me monetarily, spiritually, emotionally, physically and killed so many of my people along the way, and is still killing our children who watched this and other shows like it, and read books and see media in the same vein and are indoctrinated with culturally implied homophobia of this inadvertent, subliminal variety.
I know, you want to tell me there are bigger battles to fight; like Republican POTUS candidates with their hateful blather and the CPAC and religionist nuts and yes, those are important. But so is this.
I don’t suppose Julian Fellowes is an awful person or PBS and Masterpiece evil empires, but when good people allow irreflective bias to dominate the zeitgeist, someone has to say, “Wait a minute, this is a prejudice at work here, an assumption in play that does some damage and ought to be more carefully thought about.”
I’m speaking up, and Julian Fellowes and Downton Abbey owe gays everywhere an apology. Gay men, anyway. We never saw a lesbian anywhere, any time, any episode. And don’t get me started on the predominance of same-sex relationships between those who considered themselves heterosexual during that time period because it is a well-documented cultural truth and if you’re going with the “realistic” argument, then, that.
Ironic that this would air on the day Nancy Reagan died, another scion of the homophobic, an aider and abetter and enabler of a man, an administration, and a so-called conservative movement that actively tried to kill off gays by refusing to act or acknowledge AIDS. And still, people praise him and cite his name.
So much bullshit. So much. I. Can’t. Breathe.