Friday, February 15, 2013


The Ol' Perfesser was pimping something at Forbes called "Down On Downton: Why The Left Is Torching Downton Abbey," and I thought, that's strange, I haven't seen any such thing. I have seen those crazy kids at Acculturated kvelling over Downton Abbey as some sort of conservative thing, as if it were a political candidate and not some stupid TV show. I've also seen Jonah Goldberg claim the show for  the right because "the whole point of the show is to sympathize with the landed gentry" and one of the villains is gay. Since then I've seen similar yak from PJ Lifestyle ("5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey"),  First Things ("Downton Abbey is the perfect anti-Girls" -- their hard-on for Lena Dunham never dies), Gary North ("here we TV have a show which basically is opposed to the idea of confiscatory inheritance taxation" and references to Adam Smith and Edmund Burke), etc.

So I went to Forbes to see Jerry Bowyer lay out the evidence:
That’s arguably why the left is bashing Downton Abbey. The New York Times Art Beat column has reported that British critics are ‘torching’ Downton Abbey. Apparently Downton Abbey is snobbish, culturally necrophiliac (and if you don’t yet know what that word means, I suggest you leave it that way) and its popularity in the United States is due to the rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative opposition to the death tax. Even worse, creator Julian Fellowes is the holder of a Tory Peerage. Definitely not the right sort of people.
Wait a minute -- British critics? I clicked through to Art Beat: They mention the criticisms of Simon Schama and James Fenton, and... that's it. Two English guys.

Having thus established the conspiracy, Bowyer goes on to explain why The Left/two English guys hate the show: "Downton Abbey‘s message is an anti-class warfare one. The fact is that the spirit of the critics is hard left, and maybe that’s why Downton Abbey makes them so angry, because the success of the series shows that this group does not speak for America."

These guys couldn't be projecting any harder if they had halogen lamps up their butts. Plus: Don't they feel ashamed to be watching anything on the communist PBS?

UPDATE. I wonder why Bowyer didn't mention this, from Irin Carmon at Salon: "Why liberals love 'Downton Abbey.'" It's about... why liberals love Downton Abbey. Why, it's as if they have the ability to enjoy things that don't flatter every single one of their prejudices. What savages! But at the Washington Times, Jack Cashill offers an alternate explanation:
Carmon’s liberal friends may have sensed that their own ill-formed ideologies lack the integrity and the grace of the one they are exposed to in some detail on successive Sunday nights each winter. Outwardly, they may continue to reject the world the Crawleys have inherited, but inwardly, they envy it, and once a week at least, through the magic of television, they get to be part of it.
So in this reading, liberals actually love the show, but only because they wish they were conservatives. Well, when you spend years of your life telling people that Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama's book, you may develop impressive self-convincing skills.

UPDATE 2. In comments, L Bob Rife: "Could someone wake me when the Acculturatniks lay claim to the 'Harlem Shake'?"


  1. When you describe James Fenton and Simon Schama--Simon Schama!--as members of the "hard left" in spirit, you are pretty far gone.

  2. BigHank5310:23 AM

    No, they're going to watch Dowton Abbey every week on PBS and then not donate! Suck on that, commies!

    Mighty indeed are the victories of the warriors, the pundits, the mighty mouse-clickers of the right.

  3. M. Krebs10:23 AM

    Who doesn't know what "necrophiliac" means?

  4. The Dark Avenger10:23 AM

    Simon is a very careful scholar, blending facts with provocative and precise language.

    So no wonder they can't stand him.

  5. The tweed hipsters on be-Brooks'ed fixies have already gotten bored with haberdashery porn and have realized Downton is just another soap opera.

    Could someone wake me when the Acculturatniks lay claim to the "Harlem Shake"?

  6. chuckling10:24 AM

    Reagan fan?

  7. Iris Carmon at Salon

    Irin, actually.

    Hey, liberals love a good soap, too. And Dowager Countesses say the darnedest things.

  8. DocAmazing10:25 AM

    Big Bird breathes more easily.

  9. mortimer10:26 AM

    In this film, a leftist serial killer murders eight upper-class British citizens out of envy and an inflated sense of proletarian entitlement. Imagine, eight noble conservatives methodically slaughtered in cold blood and it's all just good lefty fun. What were they thinking? The whole point of the film is to sympathize with the downtrodden masses and encourage class warfare. Or should I say class genocide?
    Jonah Goldberg reviews Kind Hearts and Coronets.

    I wonder how conservatives feel about the New Testament. All the villains are rich and heterosexual.

  10. smut clyde10:26 AM

    that this group does not speak for America

    Two English critics do not speak for America when discussing a UK television program for their UK audience? That is a relief.

  11. edroso10:26 AM

    Oops, thanks.

  12. Adrian10:26 AM

    No slaves were harmed in the making of this film.

  13. AGoodQuestion10:27 AM

    Bowyer warns his readers from finding out what "necrophiliac" means, lest they learn there's a word for their Reagan worship.

  14. AGoodQuestion10:27 AM

    Dammit, I should have scrolled down first.

  15. By these farcical measures "I Dream of Jeannie" is an inspired bit of conservative television because it portrays Maj. Nelson in a positive light; he's a rugged, military boot-strapper who refuses any of Jeannie's hippie-liberal freebies.

  16. AGoodQuestion10:27 AM

    Speak for America or shut the fook up. Ted Nugent baby. Kill and Grill.

    I'm sorry, I seem to have picked up a troll infection. Let me lie down for a few hours.

  17. Atticus Dogsbody10:28 AM

    not some stupid TV show

    You let the cat out of the bag there, Gramsci.

  18. Huh, has Upskrees, Downskrees finally come up with a new season's worth of material? Somehow I'd missed that.

  19. smut clyde10:30 AM

    The fact is that the spirit of the critics is hard left, and maybe that’s why Downton Abbey makes them so angry

    When you read James Fenton's review and compare it with the summary in the Art Beat article, the latter seems to have distorted it considerably to fit it into a preconceived narrative. Shocking, I know. Far from being "so angry", Fenton numbers himself among the admirers of the series; he mentions a few lapses of veracity only to excuse them in the name of plot necessity; he mentions the class background of the creator in order to emphasise that the guy knows whereof he writes, and understands the otherwise-baffling motivations of the characters.

    What you're getting from Jerry Bowyer has been through two stages of projective distortion.

  20. "...the New Testament. All the villains are rich and heterosexual."
    I'm stealing this for the future. I probably won't be able to use it tonight or tomorrow, or even next week. But when the right moment, the right argument arrives...Wham! Like an ace from my sleeve.

  21. Spaghetti Lee10:31 AM

    So in this reading, liberals actually love the show, but only because they wish they were conservatives.

    So, the only path for a liberal to become a conservative is through resentment and self-loathing? Sounds about right.

  22. I have a lefty friend who despises the show because he's convinced Fellowes is a Tory psychopath, but me, I think it can be either/or, and quite frankly, outside of season 1 I don't have much use for it.

    Actually, scratch that- I do think it leans right, because Lord Grantham is an extremely idealized version of that kind of person. it's hard to notice since's he's played by such a great actor.

    If you need a Hugh Bonneville fix, might I suggest Twenty Twelve?

  23. smut clyde10:33 AM

    This is what the Art Beat writer describes as Fenton's accusation of"excessively buried gay subplots":
    This business, by the way, of officers giving employment to their batmen, their personal military servants, in later civilian life—this is or was a well-known cover for homosexual attachments. One went into the army and formed a passionate liaison with a man from another class. The war over, one brought the batman home, under pretext of valeting requirements.

    I have previously complained about Aimai trying to ruin the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries for me. Now here's Fenton joining the campaign.

  24. Alexander von Humbug10:33 AM

    Ars longa, winger Bevis.

  25. "More's the pity." -NR writers

  26. here we TV have a show which basically is opposed to the idea of confiscatory inheritance taxation

    When you find yourself writing a statement like this and don't immediately erase it, it's time to take a step back from the keyboard, and preferably the television and the political blogs as well. Go on a nice vacation. And not one of the NR cruises.

  27. smut clyde10:34 AM

    The fact is that the spirit of the critics is hard left

    How long has Gary Ruppert been writing for Forbes?

  28. montag210:34 AM

    One can make the argument that "Downton Abbey" has been popular in the U.S. precisely because of its self-conscious attention to costumery. So much of the series treats clothing as even worthier of respect than the characters themselves because of its symbolism, as if it were a long, entertaining treatise on "clothes make the man."

    If Americans were not in the grip of their own peculiar obsessions with costumes (otherwise, would there ever have been a book like Dress for Success?), would the program have found as many avid viewers here? What makes it an acceptable guilty pleasure for those not on the political right is that it is several generations and an ocean apart from us, so it is perceived to be unlike us.

    The right, of course, sees the Crawleys as valiantly defending tradition against a Marxist tide of rabble (it should be less and less surprising, after the Reagan and Bush years, to apprehend the particular fondness for monarchy and the mechanisms of feudalism of the right wing), but the rest of the viewing public, likely as not, sees the conflicts of "Downton Abbey" as those inevitably occurring during times of social change, that the program is a fictionalized, localized history of those changes, as merely a microcosm of larger changes afoot. And one with nice costumes and a supremely fussy attention to the details of costumery, yet with a bit less fussiness about details of plot and character.

    The message I take from "Downton Abbey" is that--particularly in times of change--keeping up appearances is a full-time, entirely solipsistic and self-absorbed industry dedicated to using wealth to preserve perceptions about wealth and power, one in which a hale and hearty declaration of "God Save the King!" comes with a silently voiced, "and me, too."

  29. Spaghetti Lee10:36 AM

    I must take exception to the idea that Americans are obsessed with fancy costumery. This is a country where you can go grocery shopping in a thong and a bathrobe.

  30. Spaghetti Lee10:36 AM

    My thought is, as opposed to what? General Hospital's detailed and prodigious argument in favor of the estate tax?

  31. Jeffrey_Kramer10:36 AM

    Stories about titled aristocrats ordering the servants about are conservative, because only resentful leftists fail to appreciate the beauty of a rigid class system.
    Stories about punk kids hitting it rich in sports or music are conservative, because only unAmerican leftists fail to appreciate the beauty of a society where class barriers are made to be broken through individual effort.
    Stories about vengeful vigilantes slaughtering their enemies like werewolves on a spree (sometimes because they are werewolves on a spree) are conservative, because only hippy leftists can't see that the world is a deadly place where They are always lurking, and there's only one way to deal with Them.
    Stories about noble idealistic crimefighters who operate by an unalterable code of self-restraint are conservative, because only relativist leftists don't see the need for absolute moral laws and unalterable codes.
    I could go on, and on, and on, and on....

  32. Tehanu10:36 AM

    "Outwardly, they may continue to reject the world the Crawleys have
    inherited, but inwardly, they envy it, and once a week at least, through
    the magic of television, they get to be part of it."

    Jeez, projection much? As a diehard liberal/yellow-dog Democrat, I adore Downton Abbey but I don't want to be any part of it -- neither upstairs nor down. I'm just transfixed by the characters and able to sympathize even with people who, in real life, I'm glad lost their hammerlock on power and money and influence. It's a fantasy world of gorgeous costumes and caring aristocrats whose watchword is noblesse oblige. In the real world, "a bas les aristos" is almost always a better attitude to hold.

  33. Jay B.10:42 AM

    That the Right so desperately wants to own the inherent conservatism of inbred hemophiliacs — in your face libs, Lord Mincy-Mockton-deGourvere-Fannywhistle said that the post-war proletariat is full of ruffians! BURN! — says a lot about how far they've fallen from, say, embracing the hilarious neo-fascist fantasies of your basic Dirty Harry movie. Of course Eastwood is now doing Beckett-like public performance art that involves a one-sided dialog with a chair, so I guess I can see the draw of semi-articulate trust fund Tories.

  34. chuckling10:43 AM

    "...the New Testament. All the villains are rich and heterosexual."

    Excepting Matthew in which all the villains are Jews. Historically, that's been the predominant conservative take.

  35. Well, I had noticed that many of the characters mouth some remarkably childlike ideas about economic and social issues, but most of those characters are also written to appear as fuckwads when they say it, so I don't know--pro or anti-conservatoid?


    My wife and I have seen hundreds of British costume dramas over the years, and at first Downton Abbey was the same; a middle-of-the-road BBC throwaway with lots and lots of pretty settings and costumes held together by a vague soap opera plot.

    As usual, it ran its course of about 1.5 seasons this way, but instead of being discarded as is usual for the BBC, they dumbed it down even further and kept making money off the rubes in America. Who cares what simpleton politics the show supposedly espouses, the writing has become insultingly absurd. I would say predictable, but it has gotten so corny that I must admit I am surprised to see how bizarrely childlike the characters can continue to be portrayed.

  36. wileywitch10:44 AM

    The professor doesn't want his audience to know what "necrophiliac" means. Is it just a matter of time until all liberals are necrophiliacs in their shabby little minds?

  37. The Dark Avenger10:48 AM

    Counseling to promote ignorance, that's the conservative way, isn't it?

  38. Chris Anderson10:48 AM

    I find this type of culture war stuff extremely alienating. I can't imagine thinking about TV shows (for ex.) the way a good part of of the right apparently does. Maybe the difference is that I grew up different, and I still am, so I don't feel entitled to people and culture that mirror me. Being validated is a special thing, not a constant!

    I haven't seen "Girls" or "Downton Abbey" and I bet they're not for me. Most things produced in any medium aren't for me, and I actively dislike alot of it, sometimes on moral grounds. Not that I have a conscious strategy, but isn't it best to just ignore stuff you don't like? To avoid contributing to the buzz, all buzz being good, in a sense, for the shows?

  39. Mr. Wonderful10:48 AM

    I was going to say "everything is hard left with these people. Mr. Rogers is hard left. Hard-throwing right-hander Tim Lincecum is hard left. Bert and Ernie (gay; secretly married by now) are hard left." But I didn't, because I realized that they like to say "hard left" out of unconscious deference to and envy of the superior virility of the left. You could look it up.

  40. Mr. Wonderful10:48 AM

    For which privilege--sorry; for which right--the Founding Fathers fought, died, collected Glocks, freed the slaves, etc.

  41. Mr. Wonderful10:49 AM

    "...who wants to watch a horrible family living a life of luxury?"

    Millions. Ever hear of Dallas?

  42. Doghouse Riley10:49 AM

    this group does not speak for America

    Sez guy lionizing the British aristocracy.

  43. Doc Hollerday10:49 AM

    Take two shots of rabbit's blood and call Bill Frist in the morning.

  44. Nancy Reagan's Dime Bag10:50 AM

    It means "A dead guy who enjoys collecting postage stamps", right?

  45. Your satire of Kultur-kampferino blathering is actually better than the real deal because it's clear you're familiar (or just better at bullshitting - use those powers for good, L Bob!) with the particulars of modern dance pop.

  46. Jeffrey Beaumont10:51 AM

    It occurs to me that as a show about the landed aristocracy, the show has a strong anticapitalist streak. It is conservative in the same way Thomas Hardy was. That might appeal to some paleo-Tories, but it has less than nothing to do with the capitalist goals of the GOP or the Tea Party. The Crawleys still look at America as a barbaric rebel colony. How does that jive with the irrational worship of the founding fathers?

  47. TomParmenter10:51 AM

    Dallas must be a dark comedy then.

  48. zencomix10:51 AM

    And Laugh-In was cutting edge conservative comedy because Nixon made a guest appearance.

  49. Ah, yes... like when at some future date, in a inversion of the common conservative legend, you find that you're the only liberal at a wingnut dinner party, and you take them all down with a scathing *mot juste*.

  50. They need to offer courses in writing reviews based solely on politics. One day, maybe we'll see a food critic declare his breakfast plate conservative because the Eggs Benedict are on the right side.

  51. The most blatantly conservative sequence I’ve seen on the show is a recent episode where they killed off the Jonathan Rhys Meyers character (who, by the way, did a surprisingly decent job portraying the younger sister Hodel, who eloped with the brash revolutionary).

    When the Lord of the Manor gets on his high horse and Poo-poohs the local doctor in favor of the visiting Sir Herr Doktor Uppity-Up, and his daughter dies in childbirth, his wife is shown to be a bit human and sees what an asshole her husband is, despite his kindly uncle looks. The conservative part comes in when her mother-in-law bullies the local doctor into fudging the facts to make it appear that the daughter would probably have died anyway so it was fitting and proper to kiss the ass of the visiting Sir Herr Doktor Uppity-up after all. So, Lord Asshole is proved to be correct and
    Silly Wife is put in her place.

    I guess that is a pretty consveratoid value.

    I figure if the Right wants to own this turd, let ‘em.

  52. Go on a nice vacation.

    Beat me to it. Whenever Roy is on the Kulturkampf beat, there's inevitably a moment when it all goes from bitterly hilarious to just plain tragic. Gary North actually won my sympathy with that one, and that's no mean feat.

  53. Uncle Kvetch10:53 AM

    "Go on a nice vacation."

    Beat me to it. Whenever Roy is on the Kulturkampf beat, there's inevitably a moment when it all goes from bitterly hilarious to just plain tragic. Gary North actually won my sympathy with that one, and that's no mean feat.

  54. After last week's episode, many of the characters are becoming more clearly defined in surprising ways.. Poor old Thomas makes the mistake of thinking Jimmy might appreciate a kiss, and is caught by Alfred. Jimmy realizes, with a little help from O'Brien, that he'd better make it absolutely clear to one and all that HE'S not queer, nosiree, and if he has to trash Thomas's life to make the point, so much the better. Thomas has, surprisingly, instantly become a more sympathetic character...Christ, even hidebound old Carson, who thinks Thomas is foul and perverted, doesn't want to see his life ruined, but Jimmy plows on, willing to burn Thomas on the altar of his "principles", though Jimmy's only principle is enhancing his own status no matter who gets hurt. Interestingly, it's Bates who convinces Jimmy that he'll come out looking better if he backs off his charges, and pays a price when Thomas is not only kept on, but promoted. It's now clear that Jimmy is Downton Abbey's most conservative character.

  55. I think that whole sequence is very ambiguous--the audience does realize that Lord Grantham is, basically, a foolish man who prizes the "feelings" of the society doctor above the reality/science of the local man and who is embarrassed and out of his depth with the birth. That his mother steps in and saves his marriage for him by forcing the local doctor to lie isn't "conservative" or liberal--its pretty much shown to be deceptive, manipulative, and disgusting but necessary to prevent the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The doctor as much as tells the dowager that he has principles which (ordinarlily) don't permit him to lie and she responds, bluntly( praphrasing) "well, then we have nothing in common" [because I lie whenever it suits me.]

    Grantham is shown repeatedly to be out of his depth in this modern world, a fool, a mark, a loser and everyone around him picks up the pieces after him. Sibyl's death is wholly laid at his door and although he's very sad about it and escapes the consequences (loss of his marriage) the show can never go back to pretending that "father knows best."

  56. Dallas had a struggle between good and evil--and it was mediated by that weird mother who refused ever to act authoritatively to end the reign of JR's evil. The audience was put in the position of constantly wanting the mother to do something and she never would.

  57. casino implosion11:39 AM

    Because this country was largely founded by people who _wanted to be aristocrats_ and resented the old country class structures that kept 'em down. See, Virginia, history of.

  58. In any medium? What about ice cream.

  59. I'm avoiding doing stuff here so apologies for wasting everyone's time but before we can ascertain whether anything is "conservative" or "not conservative" in a TV show don't we have to start by thinking about the difference between audience identification, gratification, and empathy and a, you know, actual political position on anything?

    What was so weird about (some) of the "DA is for conservatives because all women want to be called "my lady" by their husbands" stuff is that it seems to confuse greed, or empathy, or fantasy with reality something actual viewers never do unless they have lost their fershlugginer minds.

    The viewer's relationship to a piece of drama is complicated. It can't be reduced to as simple "thumbs up/thumbs down" proposition because its just the perspective of a viewer, not a player. We cry when someone dies on screen, but we don't die ourselves. We only vicariously experience everything, anyway, if we possess the mirror neurons and the empathy to do so.

    This gets back to the question of whether it is "conservative" or liberal to show that Lord Grantham at all, or once having done so to show a Lord Grantham that has faults, is frequently an idiot. I think conservative color commenters have to see it as painful and therefore "anti conservative" to ever "let the side down" by airing obvious private family dirty linen in public. But to a liberal viewer it is neither one thing nor another. Its obvious that even aristocrats can have their good moments, their human moments. Taht doesn't change the fact that the priviliges reserved for the aristocracy (even calling his wife "my lady") would be just as nice for the rest of us if they were more widely distributed.

  60. The Frodo/Sam relationship was based on this as well.

  61. We also have a show which points out the idiocy of the entail, which meant that property was settled on the next male relative, and the current owner had no say in where it went because someone 500 years earlier had decided the property would be disposed in that way. That's why the Granthams are so desperate to get their daughter married to the heir, who isn't her because of the entail.

    See also Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility.

  62. Bitter Scribe5:37 PM

    "She loves a lord as only a Republican can do."

  63. Thanks, aimai. I didn't know

  64. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:38 PM

    Alternate take: Furtive sodomy is a time-honored tradition of upper class boaring schools.

  65. Conservatives obviously aren't actually watching Downton Abbey since at every turn, Lord Grantham and every one in his privileged male conservative class is proved wrong time and again. For fuck's sake, last week he wanted to invest the estate's money with Charles Ponzi! The main theme of the show is how times change too quickly for anyone, but especially the old guard, to keep up. (That and the Dowager Countess is always right).

  66. Mr. Wonderful5:38 PM

    Conservative kulturkampferen (sp?) essentially run the Procrustes Motel, where every bed is designed by them and everything and everyone is made to fit. They can check out any time they like, but they can never (ever) leave.

  67. Since they don't read the New Testament they don't know that.

  68. We aim high around here.

  69. aimai5:39 PM

    Not only that but if you read Albion's Seed and other histories of the first settlements you see that there was a very self concious rejection, on the part of the northern colonies, of anything that smacked of aristocracy--for example titles of nobility and special favors for aristocratic settlers. That's why the nobility bought land down south in the first place, because the Puritans and their descendants weren't going to give them any special rights.

  70. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:39 PM

    You can have my Glock when you pry it out of my tacky, tattered thong.

  71. Halloween_Jack5:39 PM

    The funny thing about the "necrophiliac" thing is that a Forbes writer believes, or takes pains to pretend to believe, that there are Forbes readers who are that naive. If there are any plutocrats or aspirants thereof in his readership who are so ignorant, it's only because they haven't figured out how to monetize it, and probably a surprising number of them are working on just that.

  72. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:40 PM

    What is this world coming to when two English snooty snoots don't speak for America?

  73. Bas-O-Matic5:40 PM

    You can keep it, thanks.

  74. Can't those assholes just enjoy a movie, tv show, music etc like normal people do? It would never occur to me if something I enjoyed was Liberal or Conservative. They must lead some sad, fucked up lives for sure. I enjoyed the hell out of "The Unforgiven" even though I suspect it might not be Liberal or whatever and I don't care.

  75. It's not just the costuming, though that is lovely. Any show which involves rich people gets to show rich people behaving badly. And rich people get to behave badly because their money insulates them from most consequences (though there is always the specter of marrying the wrong man and having to join the middle class). The viewer gets to have some vicarious thrills from watching someone do the things they could never be able to do, and also feel a little superior, since those may be the things they would never do.

    Then there's the whole servant class, which is often set up as the stand-in for the viewer, and portrayed as smarter than the master (a device going back to the Greeks). They're also in a good position to be scheming and ambitious, since they have nowhere to go but up.

  76. The Dark Avenger5:41 PM

    That would explain his marriage to Mrs. Doctor Professor, who is surely more silicone than carbon.

  77. satch5:41 PM

    Of course, now that I think about it, it didn't hurt a'tall that Thomas was a hell of a cricket player...

  78. Jeebus H. Christ in a chicken basket -- I watched '24" religiously, even after the sequence where terrorists invaded the White House via the river that secretly flowed under it.

    It was just a stupid but enjoyable show, and who gave a fuck what its politics were or weren't.

  79. redoubt5:41 PM

    Good thing too. That metaphor about rich men, camels, eyes, and needles? Would cause a full-scale conservative system crash.

  80. Mr. Wonderful5:42 PM

    Barbara Bel Geddes as Ellie Ewing, God help me. (With one season of Donna Reed, for some reason.)

  81. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:42 PM

    So... could Robin be considered Batman's batman?

  82. But if you know what "culturally" and "necrophilic" mean, you can kinda piece it together.

  83. satch5:42 PM

    Well, the colonies in the Olde South were by and large re-creations of the British landed aristocracy, while the northern colonies included a lot of utopian religious sects alongside commercial strivers. Fortunately for the north, eventually the religious aspects of their founding became de-emphasized in favor of the commercial interests. In any case, it would have been a lot harder to pull yourself up by your bootstraps in the ossified class structure of the south (unless you aspired to being a cotton broker or a slave dealer) than it was in the more freewheeling commercial hubs of the north.

  84. Toll-house cookies! Maru the Cat videos!

  85. Just like my own family!

  86. aimai5:42 PM

    Yah. I didn't see the Dallas mother(what was her name?) as at all realistic until I started reading over at the "dealing with in laws and family of origin" website. Then I discovered that passive agressive, disinterested, authoritarian and oppressive parenting styles are quite common.

  87. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:42 PM

    Remember, the professor is into sex with robots, the very thought of coming into contact with organic matter repulses him.

  88. ChrisVosburg5:43 PM

    These guys couldn't be projecting any harder if they had halogen lamps up their butts.

    Greetings from Hollywood, and before anyone makes the obvious pun, I have to point out that no, that is not what is meant by the term "rear projection."

  89. MRC2105:44 PM

    True about the anti-capitalist streak. The Crawleys, self-deluded or not, see themselves as the stewards of their land and protector of their tenants. The biggest villain of the second season was Sir Richard Carlisle, a Lord-Northcliffe-style newspaper baron who thought he could buy his way into the aristocracy. This season the Earl is fighting a losing battle against his (middle and working-class) sons-in-law who want to extract more profits from the estate by turfing out some of the tenants. The Koch brothers would not approve.

  90. Whoa, what a blast from the past.

  91. Halloween_Jack5:46 PM

    Oh, and I got off the boat to find out WTF Schama even meant by that, and it develops that he possesses "a Jacobinical rage against the moth-eaten haughtiness of the toffs." Apparently, well back in the day, a butler at a similar manor offered to press his trousers (in the literal way, youmy fellow pervs), and that was some sort of watershed moment for him, up against the wall motherfuckers henceforth. An improbably and unintentionally amusing transition, and likely would be taken more seriously, if not for the fact that Schama's ranting about "cultural necrophilia" in, of all places, the putrescent rump of Newsweek.

  92. aimai5:46 PM

    I must link this here, although discus seems to hate it when I do, but for those of us alicuratti who are so behind the times that we don't know what the harlem shake is, its a duty:

  93. satch5:46 PM

    Conservadroids won't touch the Harlem Shake now that porn stars have, thankfully, gotten to it first.

  94. AGoodQuestion5:50 PM

    To be fair, any of these stories can be liberal if a rightblogger decides that the evil MSM is trying to brainwash the public by airing them.

  95. I live in Georgia, so this actually does happen to me a lot, except for the part where I stun them all into silence with my MIGHTY LOGIC, because seriously, sometimes I'd rather just enjoy dinner than argue about politics.

  96. AGoodQuestion6:11 PM

    "Oh, she heard that. You just pissed off the chicken lady!"
    (From a funny SNL bit that sadly has no decent video online right now.)

  97. 24, which started a year before 9/11, was never as reflexively right wing as the leftie criticism suggested. It was occasionally reprehensible, but mostly because of plot holes you could drive a truck through.

  98. Halloween_Jack3:12 PM

    But that's the joy of a costume drama: someone else goes to the trouble of creating them and putting them on, leaving you to dress as if you're vying to be the next entry on People of Walmart.

  99. bekabot3:13 PM

    Which inspires me to attempt a German version (on the theory that these are notions which might come across better in the original ursprach):

    "Everything I read, watch, undergo, ingest, or experience is conservative, insofar as it becomes conservative in me. My own innate conservativity reaches out and joins hands with the disordered mass of extraneous happenstance, and lends it a happy organizational principal by assimilating it into a proper Weltanschauung. Only in this way can the patternless heap of particulars which make up day-to-day existence attain to the title of 'life'; only in this way can the chaos of existence be redeemed."

    ...well, I tried. And it's not like any of these people are comprehensible in English anyway.

  100. A lot of the times it's not liberals making those ad hominem it's people like me laughing at them. they equate laughter and scorn with hatred. Or sometimes pretend that we make fun of them because we're ascared of them or something.

  101. bekabot3:13 PM

    I could make a case for Daenerys as Sarah Palin: Daenerys attains to the governorship of a polity, then quits before the job is done. Hillary Clinton would be a harder sell.

  102. Next think you know, Riddled will be talking about hamster-halogen hybrids.

  103. ADHDJ3:16 PM

    We'll have to wait a couple of seasons to see if Daenerys is actually Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton.

    "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a mother of dragons? Imperviousness to firing."

  104. He's doing us the favour of identifying his audience as swine.

  105. chuckling3:16 PM

    Given all the gay stuff, only if the "C" stands for Catholic. I'm thinking more like CNN as they are already an unentertaining entertainment network and might be looking to expand their offerings to more tightly scripted shows. Pajama TV? Well, they can only dream and then hide their night emission stained underwear at the bottom of the hamper so their moms won't find it.

  106. I'd guess we have Senators and House Reps thinking those same thoughts.

  107. Alexander von Humbug3:17 PM

    The latter.Damned manhattans stole my spelling-fu.

  108. DocAmazing3:26 PM

    Jack Cashill? He probably thinks that Downton Abbey's scripts were ghost-written by Bill Ayers.

    they may continue to reject the world the Crawleys have inherited
    Most of the earth's inhabitants are crawleys of one type or another. It's useless to reject that.

  109. DocAmazing3:29 PM

    Joel Surnow had a big hand in La Femme Nikita, which was more realistic than 24.

  110. fraser3:39 PM

    At least in the first season, the issue is male-only inheritance. Nobody's worrying about being taxed out of their home.

  111. fraser3:49 PM

    One of the season arcs involved a president faking a terrorist attack in order to justify invading a 'stan and taking it's oil.

  112. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:17 PM

    Better yet, on a boat experiencing an engine fire.

  113. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:22 PM

    Perfect, but for the Dutch" bit.

  114. Except Dutch refers to Moombah, which is a stylistic predecessor of Baauer's Trap.

  115. salvagesalvage9:30 AM

    I recently got into "Friday Night Lights" and just loved it and I realized that if I was like a wingnut I would be forced to ignore the great writing, acting, production values etc. and hate it because the characters are all, for the most part, god-fearing conservative Texans with values I do not share.

    I am glad I don't let me politics deny me pleasures, perhaps that's why wingnuts are always so angry, they have to cut so much living off.

  116. Teresa10:11 AM

    Who knew yet another fictional piece was created specifically to validate today's highly insecure conservative man's ideology. How many movies, tv shows and books does that make now?

  117. The Dark Avenger3:38 PM

    Well, at least he didn't treat them all equally, from the Wiki:

    Accordingly, he and the producers determined that to give each king and queen absolute equal coverage was out of the question: "That way lies madness," he said. Instead, he worked out the essential themes and stories that demanded to be related.[1]

  118. (1) John is usually accorded pride of place as the most anti-semitic Gospel, especially given its conflation of specific Jewish religious leaders with Jews in general.

    (2) The villainous Jews of Matthew were most likely both rich and heterosexual, so the original point is still valid.

    (3) A variation of Sturgeon's Law applies: "90% of the villains in Israel are Jewish. But 90% of everyone is Jewish." I mean, seriously, besides Romans, who else would be likely? Oh, look, moustache-twirling Cappadocians! (Which, now that I think of it, would be pretty cool.)

    But yes, the default historical Christian take on this, and the modern conservative Christian one, has certainly been "Those damned money-grubbing blood-drinking Christ killers." Never mind that the only blood-drinking Jews in the New Testament were Apostles.

  119. Well, let's see: Eggs Benedict shares a name with Benedict Arnold. Benedict Arnold was pro-Tory. To be pro-Tory is apparently currently the height of conservative American patriotism. Ergo, Eggs Benedict is a conservative dish. QED.

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