Tag Archives: “Downton Abbey”

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Say what you want about Robert Crawley (aka Lord Grantham on “Downton Abbey”), but for all of his formal wear and and fussy lifestyle, he’s at heart a guy’s guy.

I can hear a collective “Say what!?” But hear me out.

For so long, the concept of a “guy’s guy” has been seen as someone whose sole interests are guzzling beer and spending time in a man cave watching sports on TV or porn online.

I think there is nothing wrong with any of those activities, but it misses the larger — more complex — makeup of what men are about.

For that reason, if you look beyond Robert’s dinner jacket, you will be surprised to see how much of his character aligns with being a guy’s guy.

He is prideful and has a frail ego: A veteran of the Boer War, Robert has hurt feelings when he is not called up to active duty on the front lines in World War I. He is instead relegated to wearing a uniform to serve merely as “a mascot,” he says, back at home.

He is loyal: Robert demonstrates his loyalty any number of times and ways: In hiring Bates and in finding it in his heart to keep Barrows on staff after his suicide attempt. When William Mason, a footman, is confronted by protesters who give him a white feather for allegedly being a coward for not serving in WW I, Robert throws them out of the house.

He knows how to keep confidences: He gets wise to the connection between Edith and Marigold but he knows how to acknowledge it with his wife and daughter but at the same time keep it within the family. Among men, exercising discretion and keeping  information under wraps is a trait that is highly valued.

He has foibles: Robert dabbled in a dalliance with a lady’s maid. Robert is not without his shortcomings but he demonstrates that over the long haul, his set point is to be someone with a good heart.

He likes his drink: Hey, who does not like to have a good adult beverage once in a while?

He is crappy about taking care of his health: Not saying necessarily that this is an admirable trait. It is just one that a lot of guys share in common. (Bonus points: Robert  is also a lousy patient. I can relate to that.)

He loves his family: Through any number of trials and tribulations, he has gone to lengths to help his daughters. Look at the way he softened his heart to welcome Tom into the family after first bristling at the idea of him as his son-in-law.

He’s willing to throw down when the moment calls for it: Robert got white-hot jealous (though turns out with justification) over the undue interest that an art collector showed in Cora. When Robert finds the collector, Robert Bricker, and his wife in their boudoir, he proceeded to sock it to the guy.

He is a good boss: While a clear hierarchy exists between servants and those served, Robert does not treat the staff as merely the hired help. He’s reserved around them perhaps but he does treat them well and with compassion. Look at what he did for Miss Patmore for her nephew, who was a deserter in World War I. While Robert did not include the nephew in the main war memorial, he did commission a separate plaque honoring his service and sacrifice. It was a touching and moving gesture.

He loves his dogs: Look at the way he mourned the death of Isis and then melted when his mother left him with a new puppy that Robert named Tiaa.

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Life After “Downton Abbey” For Its Characters

The series finale of “Downton Abbey” is Sunday night but that does not mean the characters do not carry on with their lives.

Here is a glimpse of what happened with some of the major players post-DA:

Mrs. Patmore: Moved to Nevada where brothels are legal, and opened her own house of ill repute, Patmore’s Playpen.

Mr. Carson: Became an eyebrow transplant donor.

Mrs. Hughes: Was acquitted of assault after beating Carson within an inch of his life with a spatula after he complained one too many times about her cooking.

Anna and Mr. Bates: They lived happily ever after. No, seriously. Really.

Mary: Underwent heart transplant surgery to install the one she did not have.

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Cora: Successfully underwent surgery to have more than one facial expression.

Mr. Barrows: Joined a punk goth band. (Tell me you can’t see it…)

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Edith: Founded an app dating service called Losr that connects people who are destined to be in ruined relationships.

Lord Grantham: Known for his financial acumen, Robert became homeless after investing with Bernie Madoff.

Mr. Molesly: Became a rugby player after deciding it was less of a contact sport than teaching the children from the village.

Marigold: Pressed stalking charges against her mother.

Tom: Presidential campaign manager for socialist candidate Bernie Sanders.

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Spratt: Moved to the United States where he started a successful advice column under the nom de plume “Ann Landers.”

Denker: Joined Darth Vader’s Imperial forces as a stormtrooper and was killed in her first battle. No one misses her.

The Dowager: Became chief ruthlessness officer in the Nixon White House.

Dr. Clarkson: Exasperated and frustrated, he decided humans were way too much of a pain to deal with and became a veterinarian.

Daisy: Became a double O agent for MI6, with 34 confirmed kills.

Lady Rosamund: Runs a home for wayward single mothers.

Isobel: Created a line of bobble head dolls that say “I told you so.”

Baxter: Is still sewing.

From Boys to Men

On my cellphone, under contacts, is a listing labeled “boys.”

The contact is an artifact of 10 years ago when my sons got a cellphone for emergencies. It was a flip phone that they shared since they both went to the same school.

Then they were ages 12 and 7.

boys

Today, of course, they are each outfitted with their own smartphones, in which they tweet, text, Facebook, Skype and engage in all manner of communications.

I have kept the entry “boys” as my contact for my oldest son even though it is hopelessly out of date.

He is no longer a boy but a young man on the cusp of graduating college and embarking on a career and life that will involve less and less of me and my wife.

Up to about five years ago, I felt that time was accelerating like a sled going down a steep hill but that time for my sons was moving at a languid pace.

Now, the pages in the chapters of their lives are flipping forward furiously like what you see in the opening credits of “Masterpiece Theater.” And the pace of my life suddenly feels like a leisurely thumbing through the pages of the newspaper.

In the second to last episode of this season’s “Downton Abbey,” Mary, the oldest daughter, remarks on the sweeping  changes taking place in the household.

Though Mary was commenting on a fictional setting, she might well have been talking about real life.

In the early years, your role as a dad is defined around the waking hours of your kids: Breakfast, school, after school, dinner, bedtime, leisure time, weekend trips, time spent visiting with family, etc.

And then, one day, you discover that managing those activities has been taken away from you. Your kids have become self-actualized.

For me, the change is marked by the morning ritual of getting them to the school bus stop.

Ten years ago, when we first moved to our house and a new school district, I stood and waited with them for the bus.

Then it became just bringing them to the stop, minus waiting for the bus.

Then it became them piling out of the car, saying so long to me and me driving off.

And now? The oldest is at college and the youngest, a high school junior, is driving himself to school — in his own car.

The transition from needed dad to dad as optional accessory has left me feeling bereft. In the vacuum that has been created, what’s next?

That uncertainty is scary because now I have more time (and psychic space) to find out more about myself and who I am supposed to be in this next phase of my life.

My wife described it as parenting as planned obsolescence.

If you do your job right, you are no longer strictly defined as being a dad, although, of course, you still hold that title no matter how old your kids get. It’s just that how the role is defined is dramatically different.

Perhaps in recognition of this, the first thing I should do is change the entry on my phone contacts from “boys” to “men.”