So, I have fallen prey to Downton Abbey - not just prey in the 'detached enjoyment of Edwardian soap opera' way, but full on fannish engagement. I HAVE ICONS NOW!
And the thing is, it is SUCH a soap opera, and it does not hesitate to pile on the ham and melt cheese on top of that. But but but - in spite of that, I am HOOKED.
I have decided to be contrary and root against Bates/Anna and Mary/Matthew. I can tolerate Anna, because she at least has these 'grasp at my happy ending' moments, but Bates is so tediously good that I cannot take him anymore. And even though I like Matthew and Mary - it's SO OBVIOUSLY the show OTP and all the characters ship it and they have at least seven SIGNIFICANT LOOKS whenever he comes home on leave where everyone in the audience is meant to be thinking, "THEY ARE MEANT TO BE, JULIAN FELLOWES!" and I just can't. I could maybe go for it if the new impotent-and-wheelchair-bound Matthew thing lasts, but I have a feeling it won't.
But I have succumbed to Sybil/Branson, even though that's definitely not the show OTP and there are...writing issues with the pairing, whereby I THINK we're meant to see that Branson is on to something and Sybil does have feelings for him, but there haven't been any real hints of Sybil's feelings and we haven't even seen them have much fun/banter, so there are unfortunate creeper-implications every time Branson looks longingly/unleashes a vaguely political love-speech on Sybil.
But because I'm going with the idea that there's a reciprocated but unacknowledged attraction, and because the writing issues are so very evident - poor Branson and Sybil have had the same damn conversation every couple of months! - I find it really funny. And also a little irritating, because this ship is working for me - I want Branson to go off and DO SOMETHING and be ambitious and remove the damn barriers to their relationship (it is a soap! It can be done!). I would figure Sybil and Branson for DO SOMETHING kind of characters. But no. Pining and uncertainty, where every conversation goes something like:
SYBIL: Here I am.
VIEWER: Yay! She is still seeking him out and interacting with him! This can be taken as a validation of my theory that Sybil does like Branson and is not skeeved out by him! Maybe there will be fun banter that reminds me why I shipped them in the first place!
SYBIL: I think I should start our conversation by mentioning the war, and your unorthodox political beliefs.
VIEWER: ...there probably won't be fun banter.
BRANSON: Fine. I will take your opening remark about the war and twist that into an awkward and unsettling declaration of my consuming love for you. RUN AWAY WITH ME!
VIEWER: This again?? Dammit! Dude - SHE KNOWS! YOU DON'T HAVE TO KEEP REMINDING HER! IT MAKES YOU LOOK CREEPY AND DESPERATE!
SYBIL: I think I should be vague and non-committal regarding your full-on declaration.
VIEWER: I get that, Sybil, I do. BUT IT'S BEEN YEARS!! Surely you have an INKLING? I'm not saying the answer needs to be yes...I'm saying there needs to BE an answer. Dude has been waiting a Long. Damn. Time.
BRANSON: I will wait here -
BRANSON: I will wait here until you are ready to run away with me!
VIEWER: Yeah. How's THAT strategy working out for you? Don't you have a back-up plan? I thought there was an - 'off to make my fortune and show how smart and determined I am' thing? Why don't you try that? I think other people would respect that.
BRANSON: I will wait forever if I have to. Because I know you love me.
VIEWER: See, I can see that kind of cocky arrogance as kind of charming. Except that...the whole waiting/pining thing and the pressuring Sybil to run away with you also enables a creepy interpretation. I TELL YOU THIS BECAUSE I CARE!!
SYBIL: I'll get a bit snippy about the way you just assume I love you.
VIEWER: YES! That could lead to sparky confrontation where we see that Sybil is fighting her attraction...but that there IS an attraction! Or...we could see that Sybil really DOESN'T have any feelings for Branson...which is not my first choice, but at least puts an end to the weird vagueness! Let's roll with this!
BRANSON: I will eschew possible banter and discussion of your feelings for an unnecessary jab at your work!
VIEWER: Oh for fuck's sake!!
SYBIL: I will return in several months time. I look forward to having the exact same conversation with you, ultimately resolving nothing.
BRANSON: As do I.
Goddamn. It feels like all Branson does is rehearse that waiting speech. It has gotten to the point where I half expect this to happen -
VIOLET CRAWLEY: Ah, Branson. I need you to drive me into town for some meddling.
BRANSON: I will not move from this spot until you are ready to run away with me!
VIOLET CRAWLEY: O.O
chewing gum for the eyes!
- curse and bless you julian fellowes!