While Downton Abbey narrated a story about the gorgeous estate and the happenings between the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants, the tales of the British aristocracy often became the focus of the show. The Granthams were a supremely privileged bunch, but that didn’t solve their romantic, familial, or fraternal conflicts for them.
The regulars at Reddit love discussing the family and their inner workings, so naturally many contentious opinions about them have come to light. Not everyone on the internet is as fond of the beloved family as the rest of the world is, and nobody was spared their wrath — not Robert, Cora, Mary, Edith, or even Sybil.
The Dowager Belonged With Prince Kuragin
Downton Abbey was as soapy as it got, and the scandals even reached the Dowager Countess. While most agreed that the Russian digression was a surprise, some viewers liked it. A deleted user said, “I wish the Dowager Countess had gotten together with the Russian.” They hoped that Violet would break all societal norms and expectations, and run away with a prince whom she had fancied in her youth.
While the notion is romantic, it goes completely against who the Dowager was. She was old-school, a stickler for rules, and a lover of titles and wealth. Leaving with Kuragin meant that she would have to sacrifice all of these things that she had upheld all her life, especially since the Prince was deposed and now a refugee. Staying with a family instead of chasing a phantom love was the best path for Violet.
Matthew And Mary Were Boring
The First Couple of Downton were not universally appealing. Some netizens thought that the pair were ill-fitted to each other, shared almost no chemistry, and had to be forced together to provide romance for Mary. Wrightiam opined “I thought Matthew was incredibly boring and it dulled Mary’s spunk and she became boring in return.”
Mary may have made many questionable romantic choices on the show, but Matthew was the best thing that happened to her. They had a legendary romance where they met as strangers and adversaries, became friends, fell in love but didn’t work out, went to war, and then defied all odds to get married. They were riveting.
The Family Always Got Their Way
The show captured the ups and downs of the Granthams’ lives, but some viewers felt like sometimes it was too easy for them. The people like Tom or Isobel who defied them often fell into line automatically or were made hateful so that anyone would side with the family. Ireadonredditthat commented, “I feel like the Crawleys always got their way (minus the two deaths)…”
It’s true that almost every Grantham was likable on Downton Abbey, but the nature of their births made them incredibly privileged. They did have it easier than others, but the sun didn’t always shine on them. Mary was blackmailed by people, Edith got stood up at the altar, she had to fight for her own daughter, they suffered terrible losses financially and emotionally and lost two beloved members. T
Sybil Behaved Inappropriately
Sybil was loved by many, but not all. To some, her behavior and breeding was incorrect, and she didn’t behave properly. Her mannerisms were not correct, especially for a woman in the early 190os, as they were much more restricted. Pretty_in_pink_1986 stated “She was not believable as a 1920s woman. Her good breeding is not evident either. I blame Cora.”
Sybil was the softest of the three sisters, which meant that she was quite genteel. The point of her character was that she was forward-thinking, so she understood that being appropriate was not in her, or other women’s best interest. History has seen many women from the 1910s and 1920s break rules and empower themselves, so it was not as unbelievable or unheard of.
Matthew’s Refusal To Help Was Pointless
A hot take that seems to be making the rounds on Reddit is that Matthew was too self-righteous, and therefore irritating. His martyred mannerisms got on people’s nerves, especially when he refused to help the estate, to which he was the heir, with Reggie Swire’s money. It seemed pointless to many — grumpi-otter said “…when he has the means to save the family from losing all they hold dear and is going to refuse because of “honor” is the cruelest thing.”
Matthew was the perfect foil to the entitlement of the Granthams. They had been handed everything they had in life, and he gave them a reality check of what life is like for the populace, who don’t have their wishes granted in a moment. He was a breath of fresh air in the home, and it was why he was so well-liked by the family and audiences.
Cora Was Annoying
Fans on the website dislike Cora and the way she conducted herself. They felt that she was the one with the money and power in the household, so it just didn’t add up that she was so un-American and refused to use it. In Pretty_in_pink_1986’s words “Cora’s voice and simpering manner annoyed me.”
It’s important to remember that Cora was much older than her daughters, who were born in 1900, most probably. She belonged to the late 1800s, when Victorian ladies were expected to be demure and soft-spoken. She only behaved as her surroundings had taught her to, and her sweetness was actually tact hidden under years of politeness, which worked for her.
Edith Had Outgrown Married Life
Edith’s famously happy ending didn’t make some Redditors happy, as they thought that the marriage with Bertie didn’t fit into Edith’s journey as a character. She had seen real independence with her magazine business, she owned her own apartment, and even had a child of her own, so the sudden turn to marital life was surprising. According to caitlinmara “I think Edith grew out of wanting that life…And then that life kinda found her.”
Truthfully, Edith always wanted love. She tried a lot in the first few seasons to find it, but with all the sad things that happened to her, Edith turned her attention elsewhere. Her entire family was convinced that she wouldn’t find a husband, so she went along and made someone of herself. When she wasn’t looking, it found her and she ended up outranking all the Granthams.
Robert And Cora Were Bad Parents
The Granthams were good people, however, their parenting was questioned by several fans. They felt that Robert and Cora had not been present with their kids, which was why the girls were always at each other’s throats. Favorites were played, and the expectations that they had of Edith, Mary, and Sybil weren’t healthy. Boringhistoryfan thought “Robert and Cora are really bad parents.”
Parenting in Victorian times was handled mainly by nannies, but Cora and Robert were still very involved with their children. Robert accepted Edith’s pregnancy in a time when no one did, and Cora covered up Pamuk for Mary, helped Edith with Marigold, nursed hers and Mary’s hearts after Strallan and Matthew, and helped Sybil with Tom. They were hardly terrible parents to have.
Tom And Sybil Didn’t Make Sense, Tom And Mary Did
The most adventurous couple on the show was also one of the most beloved — to most people. Some others thought that if Tom had to end up with a Crawley daughter, it should have been Mary. They both had dominating personalities, and that way Tom couldn’t have bullied Sybil with his overt behavior. Saltysaltire97 put it plainly, “I didn’t like Tom and Sybil as a couple.”
Sybil and Tom were two peas in a pod, especially when it came to their values and thoughts. They believed in the same things socially and politically, which was why they were attracted to each other. Mary was too haughty and aristocratic to date a chauffeur so that pairing could never have happened.
Edith Deserved Her Misfortunes
Reddit doesn’t show mercy to Edith, as is evident by DrBaskerville’s statement: “Edith is horrible and deserves everything that happens to her.” So, everything from being jilted at the altar, to facing Mary’s wrath, Gregson’s death and her daughter with him, the broken engagement with Bertie and fake Patrick’s tricks were things that Edith went through because she was terrible.
This blanket statement doesn’t really make any sense, because there were no direct causes for these misfortunes to happen. Edith didn’t do anything to kickstart them (except her pregnancy, which she took care of) so saying that she was a bad person and deserved them doesn’t add up. Edith was actually quite mature for her age, and she also wanted to make amends with Mary, who wouldn’t have any of it, so Edith was perhaps the most empathetic after Sybil.