I have been a late arrival to the Downton Abbey craze, having only watched my first episode a few months ago. Today I just started season four, and so I am getting caught up.
As a writer I can’t help but feel a little envious of Julian Fellowes who has this deliciously creative and intriguing series with which to keep himself occupied. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the not the fame or money that he’s making that makes me envious – far from it. It’s the complete autonomy and creative outlet that he has over the show which just must be so incredibly satisfying.
Can you imagine being him a party and having someone introduce him as the creator and writer of Downton Abbey? Imagine the ladies who bombard him with questions about how could he allow, first, Sybil, then Matthew to be killed? Oh to have to field questions like that! It would be absolutely invigorating.
There are many aspects of the show which I find fascinating and gripping. Of course the acting is first-rate, the settings is stunning, and the historical story-telling top-notch. But I really enjoy seeing how Mr. Fellowes crafts his scripts. You have to admit it, he’s having a blast.
I have always thought that writing for a TV series would have the potential for being a drag after a while, but I have never thought that way about Downton Abbey. I can see how Mr. Fellowes pushes the scripts into unexpected circumstances to shock the audience. How many people saw the death of Matthew coming? Many may question why it had to happen. As a writer, I think I can understand.
Tragic deaths to main characters force the writer to get even more creative. In drama, happiness breeds staleness and what writer likes that? There are certainly writers who exist in staleness. You can see their work on TV daily. But serious writers like challenges. They like twists and turns. It forces creativity. It pushes them to think differently about the characters. It enables the writer to do what he or she was meant to do: be creative.
Writing for Downton Abbey would be some seriously fun work. I applaud Mr. Fellowes’ writing and look forward to the rest of season 4 and beyond. I’m sure that I’ll be surprised and delighted by his work.