* A very thorough analysis of the pros and cons of Downton Abbey
season 3 (mainly spoiler-free). I agree a lot more with the negatives than the positives, although basically it boils down to I will watch this show as long as Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery are on it and fuck everything else.
has taken a lot of (wholly justified) flak for its precipitous fall from grace, but I wonder if it's not a bit of a Homeland situation
, where it hasn't gotten a lot worse so much as it just was never really as good as we thought? I mean, let's not forget, season 1 included a foreign dignitary dying in Lady Mary's bed
, and a late-night cover-up to get rid of the body (or at least put him back in his own room). As soap operas go, that's pretty sudsy. I think the trouble with Downton
isn't that the plotlines have gotten more ridiculous (although they have, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing). It's that the drama is focused on all the wrong things. I mean, for God's sake, NO ONE CARES ABOUT BATES. Seriously, no one would mind if he'd rotted away in prison for the rest of the series, as long as we never had to see him again. There's a lot of great conflict to be mined from these characters and their relationships, but "Will Mary and Matthew get married?" "Will they lose the estate?" "Is modernization the work of the devil?" and "What exactly is the point of Branson's continued existence?" are not the most interesting questions for the show to explore.
* The Vampire Diaries has a Big Bad problem
? LOL no. While I definitely agree that there is a PROBLEM with Klaus, I don't know that the Buffy
Big Bad model is necessarily better
? I quite like that TVD blurs the line between good and evil, that the so-called good guys are often just as terrible as the people they're fighting against. I'm even a fan of the way that all the "bad guys" seem to switch sides whenever it's convenient for them, because it seems like a much more truthful depiction of human nature - that we are, ultimately, motivated by self-interest more than abstract ~morals. It's not about good vs. evil; it's about conflicting desires and priorities that aren't necessarily right or wrong.
The problem with Klaus, though, is that the show wants to have it both ways. It wants Klaus to be the mustache-twirling villain, but it also wants him to become part of the gang and make googly eyes at Caroline. Which is a totally valid character arc (see also: Damon/Elena), but you can't do that and then expect us to take him seriously as a villain. Damon still does some horrific, unconscionable things, but he hasn't been the "villain" in a long
time. Nor is anyone actively trying to defeat
Damon anymore, the way that everyone seems to be trying to defeat Klaus, except when they're not, because the show wants to keep him around forever (apparently) and so they can't ever actually succeed. And that makes both Klaus and everyone else look foolish, because they've been in the same basic stalemate for two seasons now. I don't think it's a coincidence that the mid-season finale was the first time in a while I've really enjoyed the Klaus plot, because it was the first time in ages someone's actually made an effort to oppose him and forced them out of the stalemate. (Also, ripping out hybrid hearts to Christmas carols? EPIC.)
The OP absolutely has a point here: "I can’t help but feel that if TVD were less focused on converting any potential baddie into a series regular for us to get to know and love, we could focus more on what makes Elena, Stefan, Damon, Caroline, Jeremy and Bonnie tick." But not because we need Big Bad Villains to root against. The cast is simply too damn big and the show doesn't have the time or interest to give them all interesting storylines and character arcs. "Potential baddies" like the Originals can still be complex and morally grey, while also being ushered off-stage when they've served their purpose. This show just doesn't know when to let go.
* GPOY courtesy of per_aspera_ad_astra
: How I lost my virginity, in gifs
* For any other political/musical nerds out there: Les Fiscal Miserables