Friday, January 07, 2011

Dear Ms. Eaton,

I'm pretty irked by the news that you felt the need to cut the apparently amazing BBC series Downton Abbey in order to make it easier American PBS audiences understand.

"We thought there might be too many references to the entail and they have been cut. It is not a concept people in the US are very familiar with." [said Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer at PBS, who obviously thinks very little of me].

"American audiences are used to a different speed when it comes to television drama and you need to get into a story very quickly. We also wanted to get to the point where Matthew Crawley arrives on the scene much faster than in the British version. He is a pivotal character and his arrival brings with it drama and conflict. In the British version he doesn't arrive until episode two. In our version he is there in episode one." (From the Daily Telegraph, which I read, in spite of Ms. Eaton's misgivings about my metal abilities and attention span.)

It's true, class struggle oriented, period costume dramas with slow building and complex plot lines aren't too typical in the States, but, Ms. Eaton, you give us too little credit. If one replaces period costume with ripped button-downs and cutoffs and you may find LOST.

Furthermore, what person with a vagina in America has not read or watched Pride & Prejudice? I'm pretty sure anyone who has is at least passingly familiar with the concept of entailment.

And, not to be a dick, but for every random viewer you draw in with Prime Suspect or the fascinating modernized Sherlock and attempt to retain through Little Dorrit, there are 40 viewers there to watch Little Dorrit, but stick around for more titillating shows because they are smart and quite possibly boring people. These are your target audience. Smart and boring people who would rather eat their own faces than watch the eleventy millionth season of The Bachelorette. People who still read books. People who either know what entailment is or can pause the Tivo and Google it.

Why are you pandering and talking down to an America, which if it does require simple television, does so because it has been condescended to so long by people like yourself? Give us the opportunity to decide what is too challenging. Give your viewers the intellectual stimulation that motivates our interest in PBS to begin with, or start showing Millionaire Matchmaker. But don't propose to make me a lovely steak dinner and then chew it for me.

No thanks.

I'm probably not going to watch Downton Abbey on PBS, because of the gratuitous editing, for the following two reasons:
  1. I find this characterization of American PBS viewers both unjust and insulting, and
  2. I genuinely desire to view this art with its original design and cultural identity intact.

Accusing us of being incapable of enjoying intellectually challenging television is demeaning and misses the opportunity to both demonstrate that entertainment which requires thought is just as worthwhile as other forms created to stifle it, and simultaneously teach us a little bit about turn of the century English society, culture, and inheritance law. These kinds of experiences are what I had thought were the point of PBS to begin with.

But, it's hard to say, on account of how slow I am.

Hugs and kisses,

No comments: