October 29, 2022

What's with the obsession with period dramas?

Downton Abbey is my guilty pleasure. I have this little ritual where I put it on while a cook and this is my time to unwind from the stresses of the day. It's my form of escapism.

And it seems it's not just me who has a soft spot for a good period drama, dramatic plots, over the top costumes and sets. Just look at what's trending on Netflix - Bridgeton and Poldark and Stranger Things. We are simply obsessed with period dramas.

And there's a perfectly good reason for that. When you think about it, the present is kind of shit - there's war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis, we are just about recovering from COVID and the way it ravaged our economy and society, the NHS is falling apart... do I even continue. That's the present.

The future too looks kind of bleak - climate change is tearing up life as we know it resulting in more catastrophic natural disasters and more opportunities for global pandemics... So what is a person to do but look to the past for comfort. We know the past, it's safe, it's familiar. And even though it wasn't all rainbows and puppies, we survived it.

That is why we are so into period dramas. Because they take us to a time that we are familiar with, a time of safety, a place where we can escape. And it's easy to romanticise those periods because problems back then seem so much more manageable when compared with the troubles we're faced with today.

Another reason why we find so much comfort and pleasure in shows like Bridgeton is because we can go and 'fix' the mistakes of the past. Racism? What racism when the queen herself is black and so is the most desirable duke in the land. Same goes for Downton Abbey. What inequality are you talking about when you have one of the family chauffeurs marrying the grand duke's youngest daughter and being accepted in the family? Of course that's not quite how life was back then, but we don't want reality. We want fantasy. We want to sit down, tune the world as it is and immerse ourselves into the world as it used to be or at least how it should have been.

These shows allow us to lose ourselves in the simplicity of a time gone by. And with life being so hard these days, why the hell not dive right into them. So let us immerse ourselves in the joy of a simpler time, sumptuous outfits and idyllic settings. What's the harm?

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