Are you a “Duck Dynasty” American or a “Downton Abbey” American?
The fans of these two TV family sagas may live in parallel worlds and the divide is deeper than who wears camo and who wears tweeds, populist A&E or elitist PBS.
One fan group follows Phil Robertson, bearded patriarch of duck-call-dynasty on the rural reality show. Phil managed to make a beautiful Bible ugly by crude, judgmental remarks in “GQ” about gay sex.
He’s strongly supported by those evangelicals who can overlook his accompanying bizarre remarks on race in the same interview. This weekend his fans are cheering the late Friday news that A&E has lifted its suspension of Phil – not even two weeks long – to resume filming the show with him this spring. The network says the show must go on because “it resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love.”
In Twittertalk that’s #ratings.
Of course, no network, including PBS, can sneer at ratings. Hence there’s a parallel America that is eagerly awaiting Season 4 of a fictional family+servants series set in early 20th century England.
Downton Abbey’s struggling clan – Oh, the wealth-in-jeopardy! Oh, abrupt deaths that allow actors to leave for film contracts! Oh the clothes! – engages an equally loyal audience that resonates to the scripts’ live-and-let live values with little mention of God, doctrine or faith. On this estate, Catholicism is suspect, the Church of England is the butt of jokes, and the wages of unmarried sex are not Biblical hell but the hell of public exposure.
Jack Seale at “Radio Times” describes the episode where the Lord of the estate and the chief butler must recognize that footman Tom Barrow is gay.
“The enlightened Downton elders recognized that he hadn’t chosen to be a deviant and shouldn’t be punished unduly for his inherent evil. Besides, if there’s one thing worse than erotic irregularity, it’s gossip.”
Upshot: Barrow is now the under butler at Downton. Can you say #ratings?
In which show do you see your faith and values reflected?