The Problem with Downton Abbey

**SPOILER ALERT | If you are not fully caught up on Season 3, do not read this post.**

The problem with long-format television, is that it requires you to stay engaged beyond the hour timeslot. Writers do this cleverly with plot twists and work long hours to think up things you won't see coming.  One of the ways they throw you off the trail of what they are planning is to make a character really happy before tragedy strikes.

The challenge with these types of dramas is that the emotions they inspire bleed over into our real life. We start to think that this is the way life works—that if we are truly happy, then tragedy is just around the corner.

We predict impending doom where there is none.

It affects our trust in God as He is blamed for things that might happen rather than things that have actually occurred. We subtly use the events on television (news or fictional) as evidence of real life ignoring the skew of both the real and the crafted to produce ratings.

Yes, in real life, there is happiness and tragedy—often interwoven in unexplainable ways. The thing is that our brains desperately want to crack the code.  To figure out the cause and affect pattern so we can avoid the tragedy.

As a reminder, long-format television doesn't hold the clues. And happiness is not foreshadowing of an upcoming plot twist.

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Maira Gall