by DICK CHENEY
creator Julian Fellowes
For the most part, two people always belong together. Sometimes, they do not, and whenever you see them, you know it. Instead of getting that sticky, reassuring feeling on your right hand, you get that nauseous, disgusting feeling in your mouth and anus. Once when I was campaigning in New York I saw Lindsay Lohan with her tongue on a pole like in A Christmas Story. That was the only time I can recall there being a grey area.
For many months, I can admit that I did want Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary to get together. I hated Matthew's wan, blonde girlfriend Lavinia. She had no hobbies except for staring at Matthew and she seemed vaguely embarassed to be taking up with a barrister. Her hair was a fucking disaster. I'm pretty sure she gave Sir Richard Carlisle a blowjob in his office. She was not the right woman for Matthew, but now I can conclude that neither is Lady Mary.
If you have someone upstanding in the culture, their partner must in some way bring them down to earth, degrade them. Matthew cannot possibly degrade anything. When he urinates, it's absolutely clear even if he is dehydrated at the time. (The English make a point of drinking water only in tea, grapes, or pastries.) Lady Mary's sexual history consists of a brief run in the sack with a Turkish prince. She can hardly have asked any probing questions about the act while her mouth was bound.
Downton Abbey barely addressed Mary's past sexual history at all. When Matthew is overly chatty in the bedroom, Lady Mary is like, "Go on then and kiss me before I get cross." Jeez, Mary you're in your underwear, I would hope you don't have to ask your new husband to show you affection. (Unless "cross" is a British euphemism for lesbian?) "It still feels wrong to be in your bed," Matthew tells her the next morning. Uh-huh.
Here are some of the grim facts about the lovemaking of Lady Mary and Sir Matthew Crawley of Downton Abbey:
- He places a single box of Juicy Juice by the bedside to replenish his fluids
- He can't say the word sex, because it's been mixed up into too many legal definitions in his work. He says "lovemaking," or on rare, less formal occasions, "fisting."
- He refers to cunnilingus as "sawing down the old tree."
- Instead of using a safe word, Lady Mary tosses a scone in the air when she feels uncomfortable.
- He shakes the loose bodies in his elbows (gained in combat during WWI) around like maracas during orgasm.
- Lady Mary's keenest delight is licking the blister on his writing hand.
- He is vaguely unsure of the meaning of the word "poignant," so after orgasm he looks out at the lawn and says, "Very poignant lovemaking, Lady Mary." Or, "Very poignant fisting, Mary." (It is customary to omit the title in such circumstances.)
Whenever I see these two lovebirds onscreen, I audibly gag. They are wrong for each other. It's a Jodie Foster/Hotel New Hampshire situation all over again. I didn't realize it because the macabre cloud that was Lavinia Swire obscured and obstructed my view of the truth. There is romantic love, and there is familial love, and these two have got it completely mixed up which is which.
Perhaps their relationship could approach a kind of realism if it were not for the issue of money. Downton Abbey is suffering from deep financial losses, and will have to be sold. Matthew Crawley has, at the same time, inherited his second massive fortune as a result of an outbreak of malaise in the Swire family. There should be conflict, because he refuses to give any of it to his own family. His wife naturally wants him to use the influx to save Downton, but he refuses out of principle.
Matthew's attitude does seem slightly ungrateful, because the Crawley family was legally forced to give all their money to him. When they had it. There's a joke about the amount of money Joe Biden gives to charity here, but I'm determined to rise above all that.
The take-away is, Downton will have to be sold. Such a state of unrest has pitted a variety of allies against each other, mostly in the serving quarters. The message seems to be that while the upper classes come together in times of tragedy, the servant class is undone, like watching their parents get divorced.
But who cares about all that, when there is the burgeoning relationship between Lady Edith and Sir Anthony Strallon to think about? The only thing better than having Lady Edith give chaste kisses to a guy with his arm in the sling was watching her break up other's people's marriages. I'm not sure what the end of the story is here - possibly Sir Anthony Strallon will reveal his first wife's body, laid out on his bed like a mummy. Maybe he collects them, I don't know.
The important thing is that Shirley MacLaine is finally off the show. Her rude-American act was so completely over the top it was impossible to buy into at any point. She offers Lady Mary vacations in Newport and New York, as if anyone could seriously vacation in Newport after living at Downton Abbey. There is no American, no matter how rich or uncouth, who could upset the Downton apple cart. The whole thing just made me think less of everyone, like when I saw Jeff Kent and the girl from The Facts of Life on Survivor.
Still, those are the only bad things on Downton Abbey. For the most part the show is on far better footing than it was when Matthew was magically rising from his wheelchair at the end of last season. The vignettes concerning Bates' stay in prison are absolutely hilarious; Dickens has never been satirized so completely or well.
An entire season of making us think that Bates may have actually murdered his wife should have really been spun off into A Great Escape-type TV movie. The problem with that would be they would have to cast more than one other prisoner. After learning of Downton's imminent financial collapse, Bates is so shocked he says, "I wouldn't have thought anything could touch me in here." Bates, there's one other prisoner and he's deathly afraid of you. Your wife comes to see you every other day, this is not exactly Riker's Island.
What Downton has never had, and what it requires now, are children. The problem is that all of the Crawleys are in some significant way impotent. Why else should there be such a paucity of heirs? The TV ratings of any show will drop if you don't refresh the world with some new blood, and they have dropped in the case of Downton Abbey, proving once and for all that it's always dangerous to remind any empire of its own mortality.
This could have all been avoided if Sir Richard Carlisle had just been a teensy bit smoother. All he had to do was publish an article in his newspaper about how marrying your cousin is wrong, for example, and casually had Lady Mary read it at morning meal. For some very unlucky people, life seems like an elongated breakfast.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is the former vice president of the United States and a writer living in an undisclosed location. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about Boardwalk Empire.
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