Downton’s Jewy Subplot Takes Center Stage
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Downton’s Jewy Subplot Takes Center Stage

Lady Rose’s marriage to Jewish Atticus Aldridge highlights prejudice from both sides.

Amy Sara Clark writes about politics and education. A Columbia Journalism School graduate, she's worked at CBS News, The Journal News, The Jersey Journal, Mom365, JTA and Prospect Heights Patch. She comes to journalism from academia where she earned a master's degree in European History with a focus on Vichy France.

For Jewish “Downton Abbey” fans, the hope for a Jewish subplot that began in Season Two came to full fruition last night when Lady Rose tied the (chuppah-less) knot to dashing Member of the Tribe, Atticus Aldridge.

There are members from both families that are unhappy with the union, with the father of the groom, Lord Sinderby, bemoaning the fact that his grandchildren will not be Jewish. (To which Atticus optimistically notes that the since the children will be taught about both parents’ religions they might choose to convert to Judaism one day.) Rose also shows her enthusiasm for her husband-to-be's religion by asking that the marriage be blessed in a synagogue. (Sinderby informs her that with Rose's non-Jewish status, this isn't an option.)

Despite his disapproval, Lord Sinderby begrudgingly tolerates the wedding under pressure from Atticus’ mother, who says she’ll leave him if he stops the marriage.

It’s Lady Rose’s mother, Susan, the Marchioness of Flintshire, who pulls out all stops to stop the wedding, announcing her impending divorce in an effort to derail the marriage, and then framing Atticus by hiring a woman to follow a tipsy Atticus to his room after his stag party. He politely gets her to leave, but not before Susan’s hired photographer snaps some photos that she sends to Rose in the hopes she’ll call off the wedding. She doesn’t, and the wedding goes forward.

The Downton Crew comes across best, grudgingly accepting the marriage, with the Dowager Countess declaring that “Love may not conquer all, but it can conquer a lot.”

Lady Grantham even spoke of her own Jewish roots at the wedding reception, telling a friend that her father was Jewish, which caused the friend to politely end the conversation.

In an interview with Time published the morning after the episode aired in the U.S., series creator Julian Fellowes said he found fodder for the Jewish subplot from his own experience, having himself dated a woman from a “very prominent, grand Jewish family.”
“And it was one of my only times when I have been considered ineligible and not a sort of desirable party.”

amyclark@jewishweek.org

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