“Downton Abbey” comes, then, as a relief to Americans, in the way that a politically incorrect remark comes as a relief when something that’s true has been exiled from polite speech. Class does not just speak its name in “Downton Abbey,” it screams it.
Clint and I have recently begun watching Downton Abbey, and we were surprised to see this new Dalrymple essay in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal outlining the show’s appeal to Americans. Dalrymple has never owned a television and has always seemed happily unaware of its charms. Where, how and why did he watch it?
In any case, he attributes Americans’ embrace of the show to their unspoken appreciation for class distinctions, which are supposedly not in keeping with the country’s founding principles: