So lately, I’ve been seeing promo pics for the upcoming Downton Abbey Christmas special, and from what I’ve seen, Rose is having her ‘coming out’ as a debutante. That’s why she’s wearing that beautiful dress, and that’s why she’s going to her family’s London residence to meet people of the royal family. If there’s one thing I haven’t seen in the promos, it’s basically anything to do with Jack.
The season finale did leave us with some interesting afterthoughts. Rose was going to marry him, but then Jack called it off because he knew it would ruin Rose’s reputation. It then had us - and Lady Mary - asking the question: did Rose really love Jack, or did she only want to marry him to spite her racist mother? After all, she did say, 'I want to see her face crumble when she finds out.' When Mary confronted Rose about whether or not she was marrying Jack for the right reasons, we never actually got a reply from her thanks to lazy writing, so we don’t really know. It seems that the story could go one of two ways. One: it turns out Rose was in that relationship for all the wrong reasons. She realises it, breaks up with Jack, forgets him and then goes on to find some nice white man. We don’t see Jack again. Two: she tries to keep her relationship going with him, and we see more development in their storyline.
It’s sad to admit it, but given some of the disappointing writing decisions the creators have made, I’m pretty sure that option one is what they’re going with. It really pisses me off for a number of reasons. Firstly, they were advertising it saying, 'Downton Abbey has it's first black character', and yet he was a minor character who only existed to be a love interest in someone else’s storyline. Secondly, it’ll show that they don’t understand how much representation means to people. It’ll be their way of going, 'We'll just add in a black guy for one season and that'll be enough', and then go back to adding more and more white characters. This will show they haven’t learned their lesson at all.
Plus, I wonder if they know how hard it is for black British actors to get work in British television. There is a reasonable population of black people in the UK, but ongoing work for them in British television is hard to get, because their representation is barely there. Maybe they might get a guest role in an episode of Doctor Who, maybe they’ll play a companion for one season, but playing a lead role, or an important character? And no, don’t say, 'But … Idris Elba has the lead role in Luther!’ No. Rare exceptions don’t prove that everything is equal. The portrayal of black people in American television is far from ideal, but at least it exists a little more than the UK. For that reason, many black British actors have to go to America to get work, where they’ll most likely play African American characters.
Well, the Christmas Special hasn’t aired yet, but sadly, I’m pretty sure they’re going to let me down.