As much as I love modern technology, I can’t resist plopping down in front of the TV when I see a “period drama” come on. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wings of a Dove… how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
During channel surfing, all I have to do is glimpse a split second of those suffocating corsets and fluttering ascots and my eyes light up. “Oh, boy,” says my husband, “here we go with the period drama…” But I’ve roped him in on lots of shows, such as the superb “Masterpiece Classic” rendition of Bleak House. My husband went from rolling his eyes to asking if “Lady Deadlock is ever going to tell her husband the truth?”
Why would this modern woman, who can’t live without WIFI for five seconds, take so strongly to period drama? I’m not alone. There’s a big trend now of fascination for “bygone eras,” as evidenced by volumes of fanatics for Mad Men, Mildred Pierce, Boardwalk Empire, and the granddaddy of all period dramas, Downton Abbey, which boasts nine million viewers.
The production quality of these shows is the best it’s ever been. So much research goes into the styles, parlance, and music of the time. Every detail in every scene, from hair to furniture, is meticulously recreated to be as authentic as possible. These shows can serve as an interesting historical record about our culture. That’s more interesting than a melodramatic story line. With modern life being so complex, it’s strangely comforting to see an era with less “stuff.” Even the stricter gender roles of the past seem to eliminate a lot of confusion we have now. Of course, as a woman, I’d never choose to live in an era other than now… never have we had so many freedoms!
What period dramas are you obsessed with, and why? What do you think about companies like Banana Republic cashing in on these trends? Will we be seeing corsets now at Macy’s?
Tags: bleak house, boardwalk empire, downton abbey, mad men, pbs, period drama, pride and prejudice, victorian age