Downton vs the Super Bowl

Farm Forum

Sunday afternoons at our house are spent waiting for Downton Abbey to air.

It wasn’t always this way. There once was a time when Sunday afternoon meant anticipating such manly shows as The Simpsons and Family Guy and Futurama. But my wife likes Downton Abbey – and I mean really likes it, much in the same way that a dog really likes peanut butter – so we watch Downton Abbey.

“Why should I care about those kajillionaires and their problems?” I asked my wife as the Masterpiece Theatre theme thrummed. “Folks who have servants whose sole purpose is to hang around and help them get suited up! A bunch of people who are waited on hand and foot and are kowtowed to wherever they go!”

“And how does that differ from the group of guys who will be playing in the Super Bowl?”

“Well, it’s, um… That’s entirely different! I can’t tell you how just this second, but it is!”

My wife often opines that she was born in the wrong historical period. She loves the frilly, girly-girl clothing that was worn back in the Victorian era. We’re talking dresses that contain enough square footage of cloth to construct the sails of a clipper ship. And that’s just the outerwear!

I pointed out to her that the sheer logistics of wearing such togs must have been a nightmare. “It would take two grown women and a small child just to take a bathroom break!” I said.

“That’s why we go to the loo in pairs,” she replied. “It’s a girly-girl tradition.”

I blame the English. They are the ones who began such frivolous practices as “high tea” (As opposed to what? “mid-level tea?”) and extending your pinky daintily when you eat a crumpet (whatever that is!) and surrounding your abode with large lawns that require constant care. Thank goodness America had some fortitude or else we would also be driving on the wrong side of the road!

But there’s little we can do about any of that now. The English invaded and left us with their system of inches and ounces and roods and firkins. And now, Downton Abbey.

We have two televisions in our house, so it’s not like anyone is being forced to watch a particular program. But the second TV is much smaller than our main TV, which has a commanding presence in the living room. It’s like riding shotgun versus being consigned to the backseat.

There are some major differences between watching a British period drama and watching the Super Bowl. The food situation is a huge for instance.

Viewing the Super Bowl traditionally involves mass quantities of manly and artery-clogging snacks, including buckets of melted cheese and brats the size of fence posts and those cute little cocktail weenies. This is all washed down by an all-American beverage such as Budweiser, a beer that’s delivered by an all-American dream team of draft horses. This is why a beer is often referred to as a draft.

Oops! Just a second. I did some Googling and learned that Budweiser is owned by a Belgian company and that the Clydesdale breed originated in Scotland. Oh, well. At least the TV you’re watching was likely manufactured in the good old U.S of A.!

The correct behavior expected of Super Bowl viewers involves zero correctness. You’re free to whoop or yell “In your face!” or “Sacked him like a bushel of potatoes!” And should you find the action on the field sufficiently moving, you can whip off your shirt and whirl it above your head like a helicopter rotor. Even the ladies are free to do so; unlike those sissy British dramas, football doesn’t impose strict gender roles.

Compare this to the behavior engendered by watching Downton Abbey.

“It’s half-seven. Shall I ring for Carson and inform him that we are ready to dine?” your wife might ask with an elegance that makes it clear she attended the finest finishing schools.

“Fortnight,” you might reply since you don’t really know how to speak British. “Quid. Blimey. Whinge.”

“Don’t be so cheeky! By the by, what do you think of the latest developments regarding Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham?”

“Lurgy,” you reply.

“I quite agree. How do you feel about Lord Aldrich’s invitation to holiday with them at their summer cottage in Poshampshire?”

“Anti-clockwise! Petrol!”

“Good! It’s settled, then. You look knackered. Perhaps supper will reinvigorate you. We’re having bubble and squeak, toad-in-the-hole and spotted dick.”

“Spiffing! Bob’s your uncle!”

I’m just glad that baseball season arrives soon. I need to counteract all this refinement with some all-American spitting and scratching.

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