The best love affairs do not go unrequited.
The first and second seasons were a seemingly never-ending tease of “will they or won’t they” between Mary and Matthew. But after two proposals, an ugly breakup with a mustachioed corpse of a man, the death of a meek blond, the death of a strapping but skeavy Turk, and the agonizing suspense of wondering whether they’d finally get it together and decide to marry each other, Matthew proposes to Mary a second time when they’re standing in the snow. And they finally kiss and rejoice and this scene is more satisfying than most things in life. You could eat ice cream while having an orgasm on a private island populated by adorable kittens, looking up at white doves flying above you in the shape of a heart, and it would be just about as satisfying as that scene of Mary and Matthew kissing and professing their love for each other in the snow.
1. Season three has to open with Mary and Matthew’s wedding.
And the only thing better than scenes of period balls are period weddings! Partly because the wedding dresses (or at least, Mary’s here) look like the opposite of the monstrosities that women on Say Yes to the Dress buy at Kleinfeld’s.
2. Period fashion.
Downton showcases the best of British style from the 1910s to ’20s. So you get that ye olde long white glove/empire waist look but also beautiful embellishments that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Madewell blouse today. It’s the perfect nexus of old-world elegance and “I could wear that.” And the clothes just contribute so wonderfully to the show’s overall beauty and aesthetic cohesion.
3. Period lady hair.
It’s wonderfully complex, this hair — these updos. These are styles that are not meant to be reduced to bathroom-set YouTube tutorials or worn anywhere remotely modern. It’s hair that’s meant to be admired, pondered, deeply complex like a syrup-y glass of fine Argentinian malbec.
4. HAIR JEWELRY.
Shimmering brooches nestled in dark brunette locks!
Headbands that recall tiaras with not a shred of obnoxiousness!
5. Matthew Crawley’s hair.
We have his “mussed and sexy” soldier look.
His neatly combed, dinner-party-perfect blond waves.
The way it always looks so soft and touchable even though it is probably kind of gross-feeling and crispy in real life.
6. Matthew Crawley, just generally.
After you stare at him for a few episodes, it hits you: the man is a stone cold fox.
Mostly Highclere Castle, where the Crawley family lives, but occasional auxiliary castles/grand estates make for great architecture/interior design lusting. But the best thing about Highclere may be that you can really tour it!
8. Stately interiors.
Carved ceilings, columns…
Tapestries that actually make you want gaudy crap on your walls…
11. That allow shots like this to be a regular part of the program.
As previously stated: this show is beautiful.
12. The butler is awesome on the show as well as in real life.
Don’t you kind of want him watching over you the way he does Mary? Also, he says this about Twitter in one of those “behind-the-scenes” vignettes that PBS made to promote the show: “I would no more tweet about what I’m doing with my day than I would drop my trousers in Central Park.” Don’t you love him more now?
13. It feels like the long-awaited extended version of the BBC’s 1995 “Pride & Prejudice” miniseries.
Which was, unequivocally, the best film version of Pride & Prejudice ever made, and no arguments advocating for Keira Knightley as a period farm girl will be heard.
14. But with the drama of early “Gossip Girl.”
Yet unlike Gossip Girl, as stated above, true love actually gets a chance to thrive.
15. Dinnertime is beautiful and tension-filled.
The dinners are the center of the action on Downton. At dinnertime, you’re pretty much guaranteed that wanting, sexual gazes will be cast across cavernous castle rooms, the tablescapes will be elaborate, and everyone will get as dressed up as possible just to go downstairs and not eat some carved meats and porridge-like mush. (This is is true even for the servants, minus the impressive table decorations.)
And finally, “Downton Abbey” is The Best because: the Dowager Countess is TV’s last true heroine that we can all believe in.
She’s the sassiest broad on TV, and exactly the kind of sassy, hat-wearing, social clout-wielding broad you’d like to grow into some day. Full of sensible points, quips that sting like a hot whip, and facial expressions that leave nothing about her true feelings to question, the Dowager Countess is TV’s HBIC, and the combined forces of Nene Leakes, Chelsea Handler, and Claire Danes will never be powerful enough to change that.
Downton Abbey returns to PBS Sunday, January 6. Check your local listings for show times!