Downton Abbey and the Insensitive Portrayal of Rape on TV

Via: TV Guide

Joanne Frogatt | Photo Credits: PBS

I tried to give Downton Abbey the benefit of the doubt. I tried to stave off my judgments until I had given the show time to prove me wrong, to prove that this wasn’t just another case of rape as cheap and consumable entertainment. But here we are at the end of the season, and my frustration has only grown.


Downton‘s fourth season notoriously featured the show’s most beloved character, Anna (Joanne Froggatt), being violently assaulted by a visiting valet. But contrary to creator Julian Fellowes‘ defense that he wanted to “[explore] the mental damage and the emotional damage” that follows sexual assault, I still have very little idea how Anna has been intimately affected by this tragic incident. Instead of parsing Anna’s psychological state, the show continued its violation of her character by immediately shifting the dramatic tension to questions about how Bates (Brendan Coyle) would respond.



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