Anna gets raped. It’s tough to watch and not entertaining. It felt like the exploitation of a very serious crime against women for shock value. I’m not loving it.
Below is a link to Joanne Froggart explaining how she prepared for the scene and description of the moral high ground Julian Fellows believes he took in the filming of it:
She says, “Julian… was adamant that we wouldn’t depict that kind of violence against a woman on the screen and that’s something that he didn’t want in a show of his, that he’s a part of…”
Yes. The actual penetration wasn’t shown, but we were treated to a sexual assault, beating, and a long clip of Anna’s screams as she is raped, which were cut cheesily with the aria. I don’t think this is the moral high ground.
The gentlemen over at tomandlorenzo.com wrote excellent review of this episode that I loved:
They discuss how Anna’s character was completely morphed to add drama the rape scene. Anna, a reserved, proper, soul was inexplicably flirty-McFlirtyton with a man not her husband for a solid hour. A disturbing implication that “she asked for it,” haunted the episode, intentional or no.
Presenting rape in a moralizing fashion carries much responsibility. Especially in light of the fact that the show’s writers and producers believe believe that “Julian’s written that in a way that is not gratuitous at all… He’s done a beautiful job of hitting the right note with it.” Obviously, I’ve not seen the rest of the season and do not know where this storyline will go. In my opinion, the only way Julian will “hit the right note” is if this agonizing storyline includes the victim receiving mental and physical intervention, the victim or someone else speaking out against the crime, and punishment for the attacker.
I understand that these were not common outcomes of rape in this time period, and I frankly don’t care. Rape is not entertainment, and if Julian Fellows is going to moralize on it, he should empower his female characters and punish his victims.
It seems to me that the writers of Downton Abbey are beginning to use devastating traumas facing women as shock value bits cloaked in moralizing story-lines. The shocking episode of last season was Sybil’s painful death in childbed. Sybil’s Death was much like Anna is Raped. A long, agonizing sequence with a woman screaming, writhing in pain, and the ultimate devastating trauma: death. Another example of a female character victimized by men. (Her father and her father’s doctor). The moral of Sybil’s Death storyline was that family must stick together at all costs.
Matthew’s death scene was cartoon-like compared to Sybil’s. His suffering was shown with a quick, still shot of a car on top of his dead body. We didn’t hear his screams, didn’t witness his bleeding, or experience any element what would’ve been a torturous death.
Why the difference between the suffering of men and women in the last several episodes? I don’t know. What I do know is that the use of very serious traumas for entertainment is not my favorite.
If this is the direction Downton Abbey is going, I will pack my bags for greener pastures.