The BBC television series “Downton Abbey” will enter its fifth season in the UK and continues to fascinate dedicated viewers. The series follows the well-to-do Crawley family through several decades of romances, scandals and servant problems. Soap opera and drama mixed in with historically-based events.
Interestingly, the series has spawned a number of trends. Among these trends is a dedicated Chinese following and fascination in that country with all things English and Royal. Also, the show has spurred a revival of interest in the traditionally female horseback riding tradition of sidesaddle, to say nothing of a sparked interest in Edwardian-through-1930’s costume, manners and food.
However, one trend sticks out, an increase among the British in hiring servants, all the way from butlers to part-time help. 1 in 4 households are now hiring servants compared to one in six in the 1870’s. Strikingly, these are often young people, ages 18 – 35 and they draw their inspiration directly from shows like “Downton Abbey,” (“New Figures Show More Than One-in-Four Households Now Have Domestic Help as the ‘Downton Effect’ Leads to Young People Wanting Their Own Servants,” The Daily Mail at DailyMail.co.uk, January 31, 2014).
Similarly, last year the demand for British butlers more than doubled not only among the British, but also among the wealthy around the world. 10,000 British-trained butlers were in service compared with only about 100 in the 1980’s. Once again, the increase is traced to the high profile of “Downton Abbey,” (“‘Downton Abbey’ Effect? British Butlers Make Big Comeback,” CBS News at CBSNews.com, January 16, 2013).
Entertainment does something to you...
Whether you watch the show or hire servants is a personal choice, but it is interesting to note that in past decades, particularly in the late 1960’s having servants do your work for you was considered almost a repressive, social evil, such was the political climate, particularly among young people. It just goes to show that what you watch, and consume as entertainment can have a major impact on what you value, which in turn influences your decision making.
Trends always have a source, and how we react to them is our challenge. Do we follow the herd or think critically and with a depth of knowledge on a subject, coming to decisions with due diligence and God’s help sought through prayer?
Make sure the “God effect” outweighs the “Downton effect” in your life!