Mary's Dress


Last Sunday was the start of the new season of Downton Abbey. Yay! I had a few moments of frustration due to a misprint in the local TV lineup (it came on at 9 p.m., not 8 p.m. as listed), then settled in for two hours of catching up with the Granthams and their staff.Of course, there are a great many things yet to be sorted out. Bates is still in prison. Thomas is still awaiting his comeuppance. Daisy still needs to grow a brain. But there was a wedding. Ahhh. Mary, the eldest daughter wed in English eldest daughter fashion.
But that dress. One of the wonderful things about the show is the costumes. Gorgeous dresses and starched aprons and footmen in uniform. Lovely. But the wedding dress. Hmmm. It was . . . a sack. Whoever dropped women’s waistlines to their hips in the 1920’s should be dug up and shot. The dress wasn’t ugly, exactly, it was just underwhelming. The veil and tiara were perfect–but that dress.
And here’s the funny thing. As I was watching the show I held my breath as Mary came down the stairs and turned the corner. Oh, I thought. And then I decided to like that sack of a dress. Because Mary was wearing it and I’d been waiting for this wedding and I love the costumes and I love the show and . . . I decided to like the dress.
Which is the power of a really good story. It can have flaws. It can have disappointments if the story is strong enough to predispose us toward forgiveness. In retrospect, I’m disappointed with Mary’s wedding dress. But I’m delighted with Downton Abbey and so I’ll not only forgive the dress, I’ll admire the crystals stitched into the bodice.