Often, when watching or discussing a period drama like Downton Abby, someone will comment that life was so much simpler then or wouldn’t it be nice to live back in those times. Inevitably, another person will agree with the proviso: Except for antibiotics . . . or dental care . . . or anesthesia. That stops the discussion because none of us want to live life without those now considered essential elements. We might consider life without the internet or cell phones. Some of us can vaguely recall that time. You could always take the good bits and leave the rest.
We had the Yellow Pages and telephone books delivered recently. Straight into the recycling box with a remark about the waste of paper. Today we can not only look up the contact information for the business on-line but also read some helpful (or maybe made up or bought) reviews attesting to the efficiency and reliability of the service. The Yellow Pages never gave us that.
Some of the things we enjoy about period dramas take a lot of work behind the scenes. The costumes, the room decor, the glorious table settings would have resulted, in real life and on camera, from a lot of work behind the scenes. Set decorator and costumers are much better paid than the kitchen maids and footmen in the past. The long lingering, civilized conversations that took the place of screen time today. The repartee at the dinner table where much was hinted at but little actually said.
Maybe it’s just the novelty factor. We’re easily bored today and eagerly await the invention of holograms a la Star Trek to move our entertainment to the next level. How could mere conversation compete?