Is Downton Abbey Becoming Too Soapy for Its Devoted Fans?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 1 2011 1:52 PM

Downton Abbey Season 2: Glorious, Soapy, or Gloriously Soapy?

downtonabbey
Still of Michelle Dockery, Jessica Brown Findlay and Laura Carmichael in 'Downton Abbey'.

© 2010 Courtesy of MASTERPIECE

Back in October, Cindy Hong wrote a post for Brow Beat about why PBS was waiting until January 2012 to show the second season of the Emmy-winning British series Downton Abbey, which had already begun airing in the U.K. I was struck by the passionate responses—one reader actually did some additional reporting and shared it in the comments. So even though I’ve yet to watch season one, I’ve had my eye out for news about the show. (Another factor: Many people I follow on Twitter make frequent, affectionate references to the show and its characters.)

This week, PBS posted a trailer for the second season on YouTube, which is below. The Great War looms large in upcoming episodes, clearly—which piques my interest, as I’ve been reading the new Alan Hollinghurst novel The Stranger’s Child and thinking about that catastrophe (and how little I really know about it). On the other hand, the trailer seems to highlight the soapier aspects of the show as well: Who is in bed with whom, what dark secrets might emerge, and so on. Doing a little Googling, I find that, over in the U.K., this soapiness has become a point of criticism.

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What do you think? Did you watch the first season? Are you excited for the second? And should the rest of us tune in?

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.