Who is Gary Carr? In addition to being an actor from such shows as “Death in Paradise” and an episode of “Foyle’s War,” he also will be laying claim to a rather impressive title tonight: The first black actor to grace “Downton Abbey.” You could say that the lack of diversity has been a problem for the ITV series, but let’s be honest here when we say that the lack of diversity was a problem back in those days as well. All the series has done is stay pretty true to the way things were in Great Britain, at least in that regard.
Carr’s first appearance as jazz singer Jack Ross comes on tonight’s episode, and it’s a huge opportunity for both the actor and the character. Obviously, this puts Carr on another level just for what he represents, and that is without even seeing his performance. The downside? It’s coming alongside Lady Rose. We’re not here to slam Lily James, but her character is written to be this sort of “wild child” of the 1920s that we’re just supposed to instantly accept this. Doesn’t quite work that way.
Lady Rose is the “Low Winter Sun” (the U.S. version, not the U.K. original) of “Downton Abbey” characters as she is forced upon us and told that she is someone we are supposed to like. Unfortunately, there’s just something missing there, and we think it’s something similar to the rebellious teenage daughter on a sitcom these days. There’s so much work made into giving them this edge that the humanity is often forgotten about. Let’s hope that Jack serves to balance the role out somewhat, and makes us want to root for Rose rather than throw gold fish crackers at the screen.
But at least the appearance of Jack on here is a way for the show to continue to push a more progressive tone on us as we start to get deeper and deeper into the roaring twenties, especially if Rose is actually bold enough to have a relationship with him at this time. We saw last week just what sort of opinion Robert has about singers, and that was with someone in Dame Nelly Melba who was one of the most famous ladies of her time.
Want to see more from tonight’s “Downton Abbey”? Then check out some of the resources below.
1. See the latest from Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham as they also make the trip to London.
2. Watch a sneak peek featuring the Dowager Countess and Isobel Crawley.