What series was James Parker talking about when he said in the January/February 2013 issue of The Atlantic: “Preposterous as history, preposterous as drama, the show succeeds magnificently as bad television. The dialogue spins light-operatically along in the service of multiplying plotlets, not too hard on the ear, although now and again a line lands like a tray of dropped spoons. The acting is superb—it has to be.”
The one thing I’ve learned about television is that not everyone has to be (or can be) a fan. The highest-rated programs may be critically panned. Conversely, critics’ darlings can be cancelled due to low ratings. Even if the audience is there and reviews are excellent, there can easily be an outlier who finds the show lacking – and isn’t afraid to say so. Such was the case with the particular series reviewed above by “The Atlantic” contributing editor James Parker. A lovely bit of writing, most definitely, but a bit of a pan, it would seem.
So what TV show was Parker knocking? It was DOWNTON ABBEY, then in its third season. You can read the article – wonderfully titled “Brideshead Regurgitated” – and note to yourself that although Parker seems dismissive of the “aristo-soap” (as he calls it), he does seem to be a fan in the end.