Saturday, April 12, 2014

Up and down the stairs

Netflix did warn that "Upstairs, Downstairs" would be addictive, but there should be some special warning above and beyond that for people already somewhat addicted to that part of European history. To questions of emerging modernity, of the changes in family life, of the mingling of aristocrats and upwardly mobile Jews. I mean, I'm sure everyone has trouble not allowing the next episode to start, but if you're picking up on every last hint they're dropping that World War I is imminent, gah! It's the soap opera version of my dissertation, but across the channel.

As much as I get that it's, you know, fake, I start getting very much into the show, really living the history, really concerned about the outbreak of World War I. Now, this one's kind of new for me. As a child, I had many nightmares about the other World War (due to what may have been excessively early and explicit Holocaust education), but WWI is not something I'd ever feared on a personal level. But now! You just see what's coming! Someone writes "1914" in an inscription and you're like, watch out! They don't know about trench warfare, but it's imminent! Nothing will ever be the same! So much for Europe!

Where I'm at in the series, it's not looking good. The house just took in a family of refugee Belgian peasants. Because a good % of my family-by-marriage would have been war-torn Belgian farm-folk at the time, and because when it comes to this show I apparently have too easy of a time suspending disbelief, I start to think that this is somehow a documentary about whichever French-speaking relatives my husband may have had back in the day.

So I was alarmed, to say the least, when I heard this historical reenactment this morning. I had to remind myself that no, I'm not in Belgium (the bright-blue skies gave that away) and no one's invading New Jersey at the moment.

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