Warning: This post contains obvious spoilers for the latest episode of Downton Abbey. If you have yet to watch Sunday’s episode, please turn back now until you have.
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes received 90 complaints after the airing of Sunday’s episode of the show. Fans were not too fond of his inclusion of a rape storyline involving Anna Bates. Keep in mind that the rape itself was not showed and the impact of the act was more closely examined during the actress’ portrayal of the damaged lady’s maid.
Anna was raped by Lord Gillingham’s valet Mr. Green, but refused to speak on it because she didn’t want her husband to kill her perpetrator and be sent back to prison. Julian Fellowes told the BBC, “The whole point of the way we do things on Downton is we don’t do them gratuitously. We are interested in exploring the resultant emotions and the effect these things have on people.”
He went on to say, “If we’d wanted a sensational rape we could have stayed down in the kitchen with the camera during the whole thing and wrung it out. The point of handling is not that we’re interested in sensationalizing but we’re interested in exploring the mental damage and the emotional damage. Downton deals in subjecting a couple of characters per series to a very difficult situation and you get the emotions that come out of these traumas.”
He added, “When you handle very difficult and sensitive storylines, the minus is that they do expect more work from the audience but the plus is they can take you to a helpful place in terms of self-analysis. The fact that (fans) engage with it is sort of what you pray for as a program maker, because with most series that’s not happening. It’s always a compliment that everyone gets so involved in the show.”
What did you think of the episode?