Class Concerns in a Heritage Setting: Viewers’ responses to Downton Abbey on IMDb

Helge Ridderstrom

Abstract


This article examines the TV series Downton Abbey (2010-15) from both a class and a reception perspective. Downton Abbey belongs to the heritage film genre with its claims to detailed historical accuracy, and is thereby separated from conventional costume drama and period TV series. ‘Official’ books on the series, written by Julian Fellowes’s niece and others, will be important references in the article. Downton Abbey comes close to presenting a conservative defense of the values and lifestyles of the aristocracy, but this vision of the elite and its values is challenged by some of the series’ (re)viewers. Non-professional reviews posted on the website International Movie Database include very critical opinions on class struggles and aristocratic privileges. Some respondents are satiric and forcefully oppose the values and interests of the propertied classes in the series; other reviewers in the same vein present analyses of power and class aspects in the series. These comments and criticisms are relevant to today’s class issues in Britain and elsewhere.

Keywords


heritage films; class; audience response

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References


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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-454X/7960

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