Why Men Like 'Downton Abbey'

Popular British feelings drama Downton Abbey, with all its costumes and emotions and politeness, should in no way appeal to men. (Straight men, anyway.)

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Popular British feelings drama Downton Abbey, with all its costumes and emotions and politeness, should in no way appeal to men. (Straight men, anyway.) We're actually sure there's a law on the books that makes it illegal for hetero men to watch British period dramas (there's a famous Chariots of Fire loophole, of course). And yet some foolish, strange souls flout the law and watch Downton anyway. What weird chemistry is at work in these men's brains? What curious desire is afire in their hearts? An intrepid reporter for The Philadelphia Daily News endeavored to find out, and the answers she found were... Ha, well, they sort of made up a hilarious/wonderful catalog of denial about why dudes are into this namby-pamby show.

The explanations found in the article:

  • "'There's not a whole lot of World War I dramas. Not a lot of people do that time period. World War II is exhausted.'"
  • "many men cited the time period, saying they enjoyed watching the shift in technology from the first season when a car was viewed as foreign to the second when it became a part of everyday life, or the shocking presence of the telephone."
  • "'Guys always have a romanticism with the past in regards to running a household, not to come off as chauvinistic. The possibility of inheriting an estate from out of nowhere or returning from the war, having all of these people at your beck and call.'"
  • "'I like these cool, resolute types who don't let their personality traits get in the way.'"
  • "'There's a Clint Eastwood epic flowing through the show in that everyone has deeply repressed emotions and is big on obligations to duty. I don't think you see that in American shows so much, especially with reality TV. Everyone is putting their thoughts out there and emotions are heightened. [In 'Downton'] people are swallowing their deeply held feelings and doing their duty anyway. I wish I had the ability of Mr. Bates to stuff everything down into a dark hole, but instead I'm Twittering.'"

OK, Clint Eastwood? Ha, riiiight. And yeah sure, it's all about the cars. We're sure it has nothing to do with omg what's gonna happen to Anna and Batessss you guysss.

Really what it seems like is that these chaps find the history and social mores of the period interesting. Which is why, well, everyone watches the show, right? Right. Case closed. Dudes like Downton Abbey for the same reason as everyone else. (Also, it should be noted that these are dudes who are friends with a newspaper reporter and live in Philly and use Twitter. They're not exactly living in the woods with their bear-wives.) We suspect that other possible answers might have included: "I like to Google image search Sybil" and "Maggie Smith is like an old lady Ricky Gervais."

Really, there's so much in Downton Abbey for men to love. Maybe they actually should put it on Spike.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.