A Downton Debutante

I encountered another DDD tonight. (DDD = Displaced Debutante Dichotomy… I’ve started using this acronym to refer to those moments in my life where my two worlds collide to form a bit of a paradox.) This one, however, is more of a DDDD… A Displaced Debutante Dichotomy of the Downton persuasion.

Pictured on the left we have me, just over a year ago (December 2012), wearing Aidan Mattox and descending the very stairs that Lady Mary descends each morning on “Downton Abbey”, my most favorite television show. It was an event at Highclere Castle, the Abbey’s actual name, and my parents and I were invited to attend. Upon arrival, I was introduced to my cocktail hour companion… none other that Alan Leech, who plays Tom Branson on the show. We talked about acting and about his training at Trinity in Ireland and mine at RADA in London, we talked about New York, and of course we talked about the show but he was very sensitive not to offer any spoilers. I can’t say the same for the show’s creator Julian Fellows who revealed a BIG spoiler during a Q&A later in the evening, but Alan was more than apologetic when he came over to my table after dinner to commiserate over one of Season 3’s most devastating moments being revealed. At the end of the evening, Lady Canarvan (the real life Lady Grantham) requested that my mother and I, being singers, lead the room in some carol songs. We closed with “Silent Night”. It was an incredible evening I’ll never forget.

Pictured on the right, on the other hand, we have me, tonight, wearing a baggy sweater and drinking Downton Abbey wine (you thought I was kidding about that wine, didn’t you?), getting ready to watch tonight’s episode. The carriage has most certainly turned back into a pumpkin.

I love "Downton Abbey". It does exactly what all my Jane Austen books and films do for me, just on a weekly basis. It takes me to a world of tradition, grace, and elegance, things that we are starved for in today’s society. The media has become so saturated with sex and violence that people forget that there was a time when just the touch of a hand was enough to make a girl short of breath. I think people miss that, they miss the innocence and simplicity of that time, and therein lays the secret to the show’s success. Secretly people are more like me than they think, they just aren’t quite as willing to verbalize it.

Though in my “Downton Abbey” dreams I am always Lady Mary, effortlessly beautiful and constantly surrounded by gorgeous men vying for my love, when I took the BuzzFeed “Which Downton Abbey Character Are You?” quiz I got The Dowager Countess and I’m perfectly fine with that result. In fact, I think it is probably more appropriate. She is everything. She is my great-grandmother Mabel, were my great-grandmother to have lived in 19th century aristocratic England instead of turn of the century Alabama. She also always has the best one-liners. “What is a weekend?” is actually printed on the back of these wine bottles. Perfection. Tonight, however, she got a bit more serious. Lady Edith continues to need her heart blessed (“Poor Edith”), but instead of doing that, The Dowager Countess just takes a moment to preach some truth:

"My dear, life is all a series of problems we must try and solve. There's the first, then another, then another until, at last, we die. Hmmm... Why don't you go and get us some ice cream?"

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I have never heard anything so true. Nor have I ever known a better solution to life’s problems than ice cream… particularly of the Ben and Jerry variety. Way to go Violet, you hit that one out of the park. Though I’m not entirely sure that I would have trusted Lady Edith was something as important as getting the ice cream. Let us hope she can at least do THAT right.

Next week is the Season 4 finale… I’m not ready to say goodbye to these characters for another year. I never am. But hey – at least I still have quite a bit of this wine left! I’ll just up the Downton Abbey drinking when my Downton Abbey viewing withdrawals kick in. Problem solved!

With Grace and Good Humor,

My name is Mary Lane Haskell and my two "claims to fame" are that I have Dolly Parton's fax number and that Reese Witherspoon once liked a post on my Instagram.  I am an actor, a writer, and a profound Chipotle enthusiast making my way in Los Angeles while trying to stay true to my family's southern roots, all with grace and a touch a good humor.  I'm so glad you're here!

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