On conservative morning show “Fox & Friends” yesterday, British journalist and Fox News show host Stuart Varney claimed “Downton Abbey” “poses a threat to the left” because of its positive portrayal of the wealthy. “Rich people are prominently featured, they’re generous, they’re nice people — they create jobs, for heaven’s sake. They’re classy, they’ve got style and we love them.”
Varney claims that “the left says you’ve got to hate these people,” which is your standard nuanced Fox News interpretation of liberalism, but that “Downton Abbey” challenges this by portraying the wealthy as lovable and invested in their community.
Varney’s not entirely off base in his read of the show — Julian Fellowes is a Conservative member of the House of Lords, and his show offers, as we wrote yesterday, a deeply romanticized view of the way the upper and lower classes coexist in its titular estate, if one in which that stye of living is always in danger of slipping away. But Varney’s claim that a depiction of the wealthy as anything other than evil is inconceivable to the left proved over-the-top enough that even his co-host Gretchen Carlson was moved to suggest that maybe the show’s popularity owes more to the fact that “people are just sick and tired of stupidity on reality TV” and want to watch something smarter. Not addressed by Varney is the fact that those U.S. audiences are watching “Downton Abbey” courtesy of non-profit public broadcasting, or that shows about fabulous rich people make up a good chunk of current small screen programming. [via Mediaite]