In it’s short 5 seasons on the air, Downton Abbey has grown from just another BPD (British Period Drama) to being a cultural phenomenon unto itself.
The latest literary spoof of Downton Abbey is Downtrodden Abbey: The Interminable Saga of an Insufferable Family, by Gillian Fetlocks. While the names were changed, the show is lovingly spoofed. Lord and Lady Crawfish, Roderick and Flora have three daughters, Marry, Enid and Supple. When Lord Crawfish’s heir dies on the Gigantic, a new heir is found in the person of Atchew and his mother, Isabitch. Downstairs, his lordship’s new valet, Brace is being courted by the ladies maid Nana and lady’s maid “Potatoes” O’Grotten and her closeted sidekick, Tomaine, are planning to ruffle a few feathers.
I got a chuckle out of this book. Though not for the casual fan, this book is extremely funny and allows the audience to laugh a little.
Among the many different fanbases that exist, the Janeites (or the uninitiated, those who love the books of Jane Austen) are a unique group. Part academic, part pop culture, this subculture adores this 18th century English author who has only six completed novels to her name, but has become an integral part of our world.
Deborah Yaffe’s 2013 book, Among The Janeites: A Journey Through Jane Austen Fandom, profiles the lives and obsessions of several different Janeites living in the United States and Canada. The interviewees include a woman who dresses entirely in Regency clothes from the time she leaves for the annual JASNA AGM to the time she gets home, a man who has views on the novels that could be construed as crazy by some and a therapist who suspects that one or more of the Austen characters maybe on the Autism spectrum.
As a Janeite, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While the in jokes of being a Janeite are obvious, the stories of the author and her subjects could be used for any fanbase.
The beauty industry is undoubtedly a powerful one. Women spend millions, if not billions of dollars ever year on anything and everything related to our physical appearance. But what message are we sending ourselves and our daughters?
Naomi Wolf’s classic feminist text, The Beauty Myth, examines the images that women are seeing in print and on screen. The average woman in America is 5’4 and 140 lbs. But the woman that we often see in the media is taller, thinner and appears to be physically flawless. Examining the image that the media projects, and constant pressure women are under to copy that perfection, Ms. Wolf devotes each chapter to the idealized image and the lengths that some women will go to become that idealized image.
This book was an eye opener for me. As women, we are so conditioned to focus on the outer appearance and not focus on who we really are that we don’t even realize that we are creating a self fulfilling prophecy. To quote Judge Judy, “Beauty fades, dumb is forever”.
In 1813, Jane Austen introduced readers to Fitzwilliam Darcy, her most famous leading a man. In the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, he introduced as a proud, vain man who refuses to dance with the novel’s heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. She was, as he told his friend, Charles Bingley “not handsome enough to tempt me”. He would soon admit that she had fine eyes. While the reader was being slowly cued into the fact that Darcy was falling in love with Elizabeth, she is unaware of his feelings. Elizabeth, like the reader also does not fall in love with Darcy, until she learns about the true character of the man.
There have been multiple adaptations of Pride And Prejudice over the years. With that, there have been multiple actors who have stepped into the shoes of Mr. Darcy.
A modern youtube adaptation, the audience is only told about Darcy until about half way through, until we finally meet him. An enjoyable modern adaptation that is sure to bring in more Janeites for years to come.
A what if story revolving around Amanda Price, who find herself trading places with Elizabeth Bennet. While Elizabeth enjoys modern life, Amanda becomes a character in Pride and Prejudice and must undo the changes that her presence creates. A funny, wink, wink, nudge nudge mini series that is unique among the Austen off shoots.
Darcy is presented in this adaptation as a man who knows his status in society, but also as a man who prefers a close circle of family and friends to a large room of strangers. He knows that he must marry well, but is not a fan of matchmaking mamas and their marriage hungry daughters.