Notes on the psychological impacts of series finales

** The below was written when I thought I had seen the last of Downton Abbey. There is still one episode left to conclude the series. I eat my words and hide in shame. Still, it’s out there; in the culture of honesty, felt there was no point in deleting it.**

I watched the series finale of Downton Abbey three weeks after it aired. Even so, there were no spoilers to avoid. Or maybe I missed them? Lately I’ve been slacking slightly on social media, and enjoying it too. Anyway, as I watched the series finale of Downton Abbey three weeks after it aired, I couldn’t help but pray for death: The Dowager Countess’ death, Lord Grantham’s death, any death that would pull at the core of my emotions the way Matthew’s or Cybil’s did, while justifying the 1 hour and 12 minutes of life that had ebbed away as I waited for something to happen.

Nothing happened. Even the seasons-long animosity between Mary and Edith barely exploded in the most English of cataclysms: Numbingly expected and annoyingly anticlimactic in its resolution, which came off rushed and forced. But then, was that the point? To leave viewers so dejectedly numb and unsatisfied that they long for reruns of scandal hidden behind the Abbey’s drapes, to the faint creak of squabbles in the servant quarters below? Or perhaps rather to keep viewers saying, “No, that can’t be it…”anticipating a revival in the form of a Lady Edith Grantham centered spin-off or a the film version I have heard rumored on several occasions throughout the series’ six seasons.

I’m the girl who once watched the entire series of Seinfeld to understand what the hype about the finale was all about. Like half of the world, I left unimpressed. But at least in the case of Seinfeld, the characters were endearing enough to miss. I will miss certain aspects of Downton Abbey though: The clothes, the intricate albeit narrowly constructed window into the history of English aristocracy, the juxtaposition of evil against human, the cruel reality of death claiming all the good ones, the lingering fear that in a time of rudimentary medical practices in the midst of plagues and no seat belts, death could take anyone. The realness of another time took us away from the realness of modern times; and we were as swept up in the glamor of 1920s high society as we were the fleeting chaos of war, forbidden love and the supposedly fading chasms of classism. Maybe it was a ploy to ensure we would not miss the show as much; a tepidly saccharine end to a rollercoaster of events loosely anchored to significant markers in history. But like the end of aristocratic dominance, Downton Abbey’s closure feels like a welcomed phasing out; not so much forgetful as it is necessary. Or maybe, I’m just too charged up from watching Homeland.

 

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