Downton Abbey (2011-current)
No one seems more invested in the traditions of the English country mansion life than Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), since his job and station in life depend upon them. The Downton Abbey butler is perhaps the most conservative member of the household, even more so than his noblesse oblige employers. So tradition-bound is he that he balks at seeing the house wired for telephones, even though it’s well into the 1910s.
Like many pop culture butlers, he has a dark secret: he used to be… a music-hall performer! When this embarrassing news is revealed, he offers to resign to spare his employers any further humiliation; thankfully, Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) finds the revelation more amusing than shocking and refuses to accept Mr. Carson’s resignation. Carson’s other great mortification comes when he suffers chest pains from overwork during a Grantham family dinner (this at a time when the house’s male servant corps is severely understaffed because of World War I), and he’s forced to allow the female servants to wait at table.
Throughout the show, there are constant signs that great change is afoot, and Carson, even more than Lord Grantham, has trouble adjusting. Fortunately, he seems to have the intelligence, resourcefulness, and principled ethics to be able to withstand the onslaught of modernity.
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