- The main plot is driven by the stresses caused when King George V and Queen Mary arrive as overnight guests of the Crawleys. They bring their own personal retinue from Buckingham Palace, including a chef named Monsieur Courbet, an absurdly cartoon version of continental epicurean arrogance.
The below-stairs staff of Downton, led by the redoubtable cook Mrs. Patmore, slip a sleeping pill into Courbet’s coffee and lock him away so that they can replace the French menu with far sounder good old British ingredients. Can’t get more pettily xenophobic than that.
Upstairs Downstairs was the version of Downton Abbey from an era where the British hadn't forgotten how shitty the class system and monarchy truly are. The first season, you hang out with the help for a few episodes, then everything goes black'n'white because the television engineer's union went on strike, then we finally meet one of the people whose household we're studying and he gets all rapey with one of the chambermaids. Throughout, staff are tortured for little things and dismissed, never to appear again, for the smallest infractions. It is a study of the dysfunctional relationship between serfs and lords in an era where the Germans have chlorine gas.
It also ended in 1975, four years before Thatcher rose to the throne and proceeded to destroy any hope for a burgeoning middle class in England.
I blazed through the Harry Potter series while down in LA. On the plane I watched the two Fantastic Beasts movies. And something you don't get from the movies is the really diffident, unsure relationship JK Rowling has with her culture. It's weird - the whole house elf thing Hermione has going on? Hermione is a straight up SJW trying to liberate the labor class but culture is so mired in the service philosophy that only the crazy house elves want out. The Ministry of Magic is thunderously incompetent and always corrupt except you have to bow down to them anyway and the only way anyone ever gets anywhere is by appointment or hereditary right. Meanwhile Voldemort is Moseley and the Death Eaters are the BUF.
I mean, if I were British I'd probably live in a claret-soaked nostalgia for the good old days of Rule Britannia. No, that's a lie. 'cuz I wouldn't be Lord Pompousrump of Outer Donglia or whatever the fuck. But over on this side of the pond we grow up knowing down to our very bones that all things classy and prestigious come from the United Kingdom and the fact that culturally it's biggest contributions are fish'n'chips and reality television gives a lie to the whole sham that is the British aristocracy.