The ratings are in, and Sunday night’s stunning “Downton Abbey” season 4 episode did not exactly set any records despite having what was one of the most stunning events to take place in the history of the series. Not only that, but you get the sense that show has lost some of the momentum and pop-culture zing that it once had in its home country of Great Britain a couple of years ago. (Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Americans.)
In total, the episode last night, which featured the shocking rape of Joanne Froggatt’s Anna by the hands of Mr. Green, ended up dropping down to 9.2 million viewers, its lowest total of the season and a drop of 400,000 viewers from the week before. This story, which also featured Brendan Coyle’s Bates being oblivious to just what had transpired to his wife courtesy of a performance from an opera singer upstairs, was the most-hyped of the season going into it. The episode was not pre-screened by critics, which suggested that there was something tremendously dramatic in store for viewers.
What has been a bit more interesting even that the ratings is the reaction that the internet community had to this hour, with many protesting the show for going to such a grisly and realistic level. Many watch “Downton Abbey” for the ideal, the white-washed version of British society during the 1910s and 20s that was not actually present most of the time. Having something this jarring takes you out of that time, and viewers seem turned off by both this and the Rose story last week. For us, the major problem that we have is simply that the moment almost came out of nowhere, like it was somewhere ordained that this would be the story that befell Anna this year. There is only one thing that could make it worse, and if the show decides to go down that route it will be easy to blast this entire story as exploitative and predictable.
What do you think about the ratings, and is the series moving now in the wrong direction? Click here if you do want to read some more news related to next week’s episode, and we will have more on it and other stories soon.