A quintessential tea and crumpets British period drama airing on PBS doesn’t exactly scream must-see TV to American audiences, but “Downton Abbey” has taken the nation by storm, now drawing in an average of 4 million viewers a week here in the U.S.
The series, following the inhabitants of an English countryside manor house during the early 20th century, presents a deftly written and surprisingly modern drama that explores the shifting ideas of class, gender and morality that are alarmingly more prevalent today than ever.
Spiced up with a few scandalous moments and the most wonderfully frustrating will-they-or-won’t-they love story told since Ross and Rachel on “Friends,” “Downton” seems to have viewers hooked.
And in the age of comedic irony, how could a show featuring the typically ironclad Dame Maggie Smith sipping tea while struggling to understand the practicality of a swivel chair not attract a huge Internet following among college-aged youths?
Here are a few examples of how the show has left an undeniable mark on pop culture and in the hearts of more than a few members of the Facebook generation.
A Tumblr blog comprised only of screen captures of “Downton” episodes subtitled with lyrics from Beyonc and Destiny’s Child. It’s so wrong that it’s practically right.
Who knew the lyrics to the hit single “If I Were a Boy” would speak such volumes about the gender inequality of the turn-of-the-century British estate system?
If anything, this blog is just a way for the ladies of the Abbey to unleash some of their inner diva from the tightness of their corsets. After viewing the blog you just want them to rip them off, blow off their hunt for prospective husbands and just do the “Single Ladies” dance in the middle of the abbey courtyard.
Basically the same set-up as Downton Abbeyonc, but replacing the lyrics with quotes from the hit NBC comedy “Parks and Recreation,” this hilarious Tumblr blog is recommended for fans of both series.
The utterly deranged quotes of “Parks” characters seem eerily appropriate to the inhabitants of Downton Abbey. You almost get the feeling that subconsciously, the characters actually mean to say the quotes, but the strict manners of the time period do their job of repressing them too well.
Even if you’re not familiar with “Parks” or “Downton,” it’s always funny just to see a prim and proper aristocratic debutante say “ovaries before brovaries” or the words of Ron Swanson come out of a virginal 1912 housemaid.
Spike TV’s “Downton Abbey”
Saturday Night Live basically gave “Downton” a seat at the pop-culture cool kid’s table with this parody.
Commenting on the unlikeliness of the show’s popularity, SNL asked the question of what it would be like if it aired on Spike TV, home of “Entourage” reruns and the Hooter’s Swimsuit Pageant, rather than PBS.
The fake commercial skit just proves that the show’s plot is best described coming out of the buffalo sauce-stained mouth of your average single guy couch potato.
Patton Oswalt’s live tweets
Comedian Patton Oswalt has made it a habit to live tweet during every new episode of the series, claiming the show makes “white nerds tweet like Kanye.”
Anyone who knows his comedy routine or is familiar with his appearance in last year’s “Young Adult” or the show “King of Queens,” would consider him the most unlikely of “Downton” fans, but he’s bordering on obsession.
His tweets offer hilarious insight into the show, both mocking the character’s uppity devotion to manners and gleefully celebrating it. Oswalt knows the irony of his and America’s love for the show and relishes in it, creating a Twitter comedy jackpot.
While either taking the occasional jab at the snobbish Mary (“Mary is wearing a dress TWICE?!?! Well, there IS a war on. #DowntonPBS”) or flailing in fearful admiration of Maggie Smith’s Countess (“If the Dowager Countess were a judge on AMERICAN IDOL there’d be nine suicides in the first round of auditions. #DowntonPBS”), Oswalt always finds a way to bring these characters down to our 140-character, 21st-century level.