I am epically tardy to the party that is Downton Abbey. I have this bizarre skepticism about anything that’s popular, which is occasionally valid (Twilight), but mostly misguided (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games). Anyway, it took me a year longer than everyone else, but I finally discovered DA, and I love it. If you haven’t started watching yet, I recommend you do so immediately (now that season two is on Netflix), and don’t read any more of this article until you do, as there will be spoilers.
As I think I’ve established by now, I love pretty much any book, TV show or movie with a protagonist with whom I can identify. My friend S paid me the largest of compliments a few weeks ago when she said that Lady Mary reminded her of me. Friends, of course, have a way of exaggerating. Besides being pale brunettes with a tendency toward sarcasm, Mary and I don’t have that much in common. I’m hoping to change that.
I realize I’ve missed the boat on being a member of the British aristocracy, and I’m very grateful to live in a day and age where my worth won’t be determined by who I marry. There’s not much of Lady Mary’s life that I envy, but I could really use a healthy dose of her personality. I don’t mean Season One Mary, with all the attempts at social climbing and being mean to Edith (who, in all fairness, deserved it). No, I mean Season Two Mary, who endured heartbreak with class and grace.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Season One Lady Mary. She has that deliberate, calculating, sometimes cruel Blair Waldorf quality that I so love in my TV heroines. S1 Mary would have run Lavinia out of town, just like Blair did to Fleur Delacour. S2 Mary, on the other hand, does that thing I so greatly envy, looks at the man she’s still in love with and goes “Oh, you’ve found someone who makes you happy, I’m super happy for you, I will wish you nothing but the best, and later I will go shed a single tear in my room, where only my maid will see me.” Lady Mary would never sing Adele or Alanis at karaoke. Lady Mary wouldn’t have a blog. Lady Mary would never send an awkward text. Lady Mary doesn’t try to fix the relationship she screwed up; she begs her aunt and grandmother to let things with Matthew be. “Why must she be so savage? It’s my broken heart and it was her advice that wrecked it in the first place.” I need to learn to be like this.
Stoicism has never been my strong suit. I’m overly emotional to a fault. If I have a feeling, any feeling at all, ever, you can bet if you’re around me, you’ll know it. It turns out, most people find this less than amusing. So from now on, my question before saying anything, is going to be “What would Lady Mary do?” If there’s nothing to be gained by blurting out my feelings, I’m not going to do it. I’m all for open and honest communication, but only if there’s a chance of it accomplishing something. Otherwise, it’s reserved British-ness from here on out.
Of course, maintaining composure isn’t the only thing Lady Mary is good at. She’s not one to dwell on her misery or misfortune; Lady Mary is a woman with goals, and will stop at nothing to get them. When her Plan A for her future doesn’t work out, she falls back on Plan B, and she probably had Plans C-Z ready to go in case Matthew didn’t come around. Lady Mary isn’t one to wallow. And from now on, neither am I.
Image via Fashionable People, Questionable Things