Open letter to Julian Fellowes from an emerging writer…

Dear Mr. Fellowes

“you had me at hello” as the saying goes. Or more accurately, you had me at the opening credits of Downton Abbey Series 1. Episode 1. And not just me, I’m sure your marketing people have told you how popular the show is.

Many of us love the characters, the intrigue, the humour and the style. Anybody who wanted happiness has had to fight for it; and you’ve given us a certain sense of realism with war, loss and financial shenanigans.

I read somewhere that you responded well to the vehement response to Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley’s untimely deaths. (We were never quite as distraught about poor Lavinia Swire.) I sensed you held your hands up when Dan Stevens left… ‘it wasn’t me – he left of his own accord, had to kill him off, no choice’

It feels like the characters who fought most for what they wanted, lost it not long after. And tonight we see you’ve written in the potential ruination of the couple who fought most for happiness.

Mr. Fellowes, you made us love those characters. You made us cheer them on and hope for them and cry with them when they lost. And that’s because you’re a great writer and they are great actors. But I also read somewhere that you promised to go easy on us in the series. That you heard the cries from Downton fans at the amount of loss in such a short space of time and that this series would not be so hard on us. (I’m sorry I can’t quote the sources but I’ve read them more than once and if I had the energy or time to google them I would!)

DowntonI’ll be honest, I really don’t know if I can watch it anymore. I probably won’t buy this series on DVD. I’m wondering what happens next and if I can bear it. Will you sweep the issue under the carpet quietly and quickly (which you kinda did with prostitution)? Or will we watch another beloved character die (albeit on the inside)? Another happy marriage wrecked – and no doubt there’ll be a baby on the way soon enough and…. we’ll never know will we?

So as an avid Downton Abbey fan, and an emerging writer, looking to people like you to learn from, I’d like to ask you why you insist on breaking our hearts. I think what happened tonight was a step too far. I want to be a good writer and I know that means harsh realism and not everyone gets ‘happy ever after’. But I also feel I have a responsibility to my readers, my audience – even if they are only few at the moment. If I am blessed enough to be talented enough to make my readers love my characters  – then I feel a responsibility to let those characters be happy.

Your PR people will probably love that Downton is trending on Twitter. You may well be consoled by others that tell you that ‘all publicity is good publicity’. No doubt you’ll be contacted for a whole stream of interviews over the next week. Maybe clever people who know what they’re talking about will say, “Every war, even the ratings war has casualties. Some people are angry and we’ll lose a few, but it doesn’t matter.”

But I think it does matter and I hope it matters to you.

photo credit: GriffinStar7 via photopin cc

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7 thoughts on “Open letter to Julian Fellowes from an emerging writer…

  1. I feel you. I feel this.

    The series has touched significant issues in the past, some historical. Rape is an issue, a perennial global issue, and millions of women who are as good as Anna have become victims of this heinous crime. People don’t like to talk about it, much less see them being acted out, because they’re sensitive to it. But not talking about it doesn’t make it disappear or any less real. Even today, all over the world, a lot of women get raped. Anna’s decision to keep it under wraps just shows how shameful it is, especially during the time, and how these women fall even deeper by losing their will to speak out and fight for the injustice done. It doesn’t bother me that the rape issue was brought up in Downton Abbey–it’s a real, very relevant issue. The show is a good platform to make viewers become aware of issues such as this. I see the opportunity and the possibility. This can turn out to be an empowering plot line, especially for women.

    Life isn’t all dinners and parties. And writing isn’t only to entertain. Even Horace says, “to TEACH and delight.”

    This just breaks our hearts because we know Anna, we love her and we know she does not deserve it, not even a punch in the face. But in life bad things happen to good people. But let’s hope Mr. Green would suffer for his transgression, big time! And everyone who loves and cares for Anna would come out and help her get through this, even Thomas (I can hear him say, “It’s Mr. Barrow to you”). And, in the end, Anna would become a survivor–a stronger and wiser woman–NOT a victim.

    Julian Fellowes brought this sick and repulsive turn of events, I hope he can turn it gloriously around! I’m also hoping they’ll hang Mr. Green during the Christmas special if not before! 🙂

    • Hi Jerard, thanks for commenting.
      If JF had done little to upset us to this point I’d agree. But last night’s scene came after a series of very ‘real’ events. It was such a shock.
      I’m not saying that such an assault should not be there – I was just asking him to take it easy on us as viewers! How much can he teach viewers if a large group don’t want to watch anymore?!

  2. Well, as an emerging writer, you’ll know that stories thrive on conflict. You might want the series to be happy all the way through, but if it were, it wouldn’t be nearly as gripping. Mr Fellows is great at sleipping in the conflict, yet keeping the overall mood calm and serene, giving us an opportunity to escape from our recession-dampened lives.

    • HIya Derv – thanks for commenting 😉
      I don’t want it to be happy all the way through. There has been a whole lot of tragedy – which comes with life and it’s right it get reflected. I disagree that he has ‘slipped in conflict’ though – I feel he has hit us over the head with it. And he certainly didn’t do anything to aid my escapism last night. I barely slept a wink!

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