Downton Abbey spoiler alert.
Downton Abbey is a fairy tale show full of miraculous recoveries, comebacks, character revelations and other wonderful, unrealistic happenings. Characters convicted of murder are reprieved from execution at the last minute. Star-crossed lovers marry. Paralyzed characters walk again. Everyone has some beauty in them, some soul, some moments of gentleness. It's a fairy tale upstairs and downstairs.
But was there enough drama? Apparently not, which is why we're told that the season 4 move to brutally rape a favorite character was a “bold” choice.
In real life people who've been sexually assaulted lose safety, dignity, sovereignty and autonomy. It's a lot like surviving an accident in one way; you can live after your legs have been cut off. You can thrive, have children, run races. But you will never get your legs back.
In real life victims of sexual assault spend a lifetime after the attack reclaiming things that most have never lost. The healing process is never over. Some victims do not survive the emotional impact. The ignorance displayed by bloggers, journalists and fans of the show on this point is astonishing.
In real life, a rape is never over. But on Downton Abbey, it will have to be.
Writer/creator Julian Fellowes is creating a horrible lie: a fairy tale rape. We're supposed to become invested in Anna's journey back. But in real life, there is no “back”. You are never the same. You can never be who you were. In a fairy tale miraculous things happen so Downton viewers will expect Anna, the lovely and lion-hearted, the best character on the show, to make a miraculous comeback. Viewers will root for Anna, and moreover expect full reassurance that she will be OK.
And Uncle Julian will make her be OK. He's made everything else OK, so why not a rape?