WARNING: This post contains Downton Abbey spoilers! If you have not yet seen the show, (Are you serious? What’s wrong with you?) please do so at your earliest convenience. It’s amazing!
I am so saddened to see Downton Abbey end. Since I stay pretty busy, I haven’t found many TV shows that are worthy of a spot on my schedule. However, Downton Abbey became the cap to my weekend and I could lose myself in the storytelling, if just for an hour.
But Downton Abbey taught a lot of life lessons as well, if you were paying attention. Here are just a few of them, and they are not always learned the easy way:
A LITTLE MONEY SENSE GOES A LONG WAY- While Lord Grantham foolishly (and repeatedly) finds himself jeopardizing the family fortune, his servants downstairs are saving money for their own retirement. Mr. Carson is able to buy a house for his bride, Mrs. Patmore is able to open a Bed and Breakfast and the Bates family has dreams for the future thanks to the income provided by a rental property that they own.
AN EDUCATION CAN OPEN DOORS- You don’t have to look any further than Season One to learn this lesson. When Gwen, one of the housemaids, takes a correspondence course in typing and shorthand, it seems like a foolish waste of time until Sybil helps her find a job as a secretary. When Gwen returns to Downton as a guest in Season Six, she is hardly recognized as the invisible housemaid she had once been and can be proud of her status as a proper lady with a good government job. Mr. Molesley, Daisy and Andy can also attest to the power of a good education as we see their studies come to fruition in the final season.
THE LOVE OF A GOOD DOG MAKES LIFE A LITTLE BETTER- Downton Abbey just wasn’t quite the same after the death of Lord Grantham’s yellow labrador retriever, Isis, and you can see pure the joy on his lordship’s face as he meets his new four-legged companion in Season Six. There is just something about a boy and his dog that never gets old- even if that boy at heart is a grandfather with silvering hair.
STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE- While Lady Mary felt it was her duty to remain at Downton and produce heirs, the other Crawley sisters knew their roles were not assigned. Free-spirit Sybil found her calling as a WWI nurse, while the war taught Edith that she could be helpful in her own right, by not only learning to drive during the war but assisting with patients while Downton was being used as a convalescent hospital by the British Armed Forces. This sense of confidence and independence helped her again once she became a London editor and found that she was able to manage a magazine while acting as a single parent to her daughter. Even Mary finally stepped out of her comfort zone, briefly acting as the Land Agent for Downton Abbey in Season 6.
FRIENDSHIPS CAN BE COMPLICATED- Anyone would agree that Isobel Crawley and the Dowager Countess got off to a terrible start but, as time marched on, they found an alliance in their desire to see Matthew and Mary together at last. These two women were headstrong, opinionated women willing to fight for what they believed in and, ultimately, gained each others’ respect for doing so. They came a long way when you consider how their relationship started and that, in Season Six, Mrs. Crawley enlists the help of the Dowager to liberate Lord Merton from his son and daughter-in-law’s control. Each of these ladies can fight her own corner but, together, they have tact and influence that neither would have without the other.
CHOOSE LIFE- One of the most poignant scenes of Downton Abbey was a heartfelt scene in Season Four between the Dowager Countess and her bereaved granddaughter Mary, who had been in mourning for her husband who died suddenly. “You must choose: either death or life,” her grandmother advises her and Mary finally decides that it is time to live her life again and begin to be a mother to her son and find joy in watching him grow. Fate is not always kind and it is up to you to decide whether or not to let it defeat you.
SOMETIMES YOU BECOME EXACTLY WHO YOU DON’T PLAN TO BE, AND IT’S WONDERFUL- Look no further than Tom Branson for this lesson. When this Irish Socialist came on the scene in Season One, he resented everything about the nobility and their way of life, but meeting Sybil Crawley showed him that not all of the upper crust were as selfish as he gave them credit for. Through grieving with the Crawley family and seeing that they had problems of their own, he was able to find his place in their world (and on his own terms). This fish-out-of-water not only learned to swim upstream, but found his voice and was able to let the others know when they weren’t swimming in the right direction.
I think it will be awhile before a television drama comes along that can match Downton Abbey and I miss it already! Let me know in the comments below what you will miss most about Downton Abbey and what other life lessons can be learned from the series. I know Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore taught us a thing or two!