Mad Men. Breaking Bad. Game of Thrones.
Roughly speaking, these are the three shows mostly likely to come up when you ask someone "What's the best show on television?" I'm not saying it's a fact, I'm just saying that if you were to ask people to rank their Top 25 of "best" (not favorite) shows currently on TV, I'm willing to bet they'd come in first, second and third in some order.
None of them were the most acclaimed show on TV last year. That distinction, as noted by the Guinness Book of World Records, goes to Downton Abbey. The ITV/PBS period drama racked up more nominations and awards worldwide than any other show out there, including the ones listed above.
That doesn't mean that Average American is going to suddenly start saying Downton Abbey is the best show on TV. Hardly. There's no schoolteachers cooking meth, no beheadings and no people lost on a desert island making increasingly dumber decisions as they go along.
On paper, it sounds boring. The ongoing story of a wealthy family and their massive servant staff that live in an English estate during the 1900's/1910's, it's not the kind of one-liner that hooks most people.
But all you have to do is start watching Downton Abbey and you start to get it. It's impeccably acted. There are no wasted parts or moments. Everyone in the cast does their job and heightens what could have otherwise been just another snooty rich girl or just another snooty butler (there's a lot of snooty involved). The writing is fantastic as well, slowly unraveling the tenuous nature of being an aristocratic family as the world around you starts to fall apart, not to mention turning each character into a three-dimensional person, all capable of good and evil.
Even with all of that, I don't expect too many people to get on the Downton
bandwagon buggy. Even with the acclaim and pedigree, there will always be detractors. I'm pretty sure Ron Morris would say that he's "seen one episode of Downton Abbey and Work It is just as good, if not better." Fair enough. It's not everyone's taste.
Most will stick with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. They'll stick to their initial three picks and I suppose that's fine. Downton Abbey probably won't beat those three in the weekly ratings. Access Hollywood and People Magazine will keep feeding them the same old rhetoric about why they're the best shows and people will just go with that.
However, I'm fairly certainly that an unbiased panel of experts would have to agree that even if it wasn't on your initial list of favorites, Downtown Abbey is just as good if not better than any of those shows when you get right down to it (Speaking as someone who is a fan of all of them).
And since we're on the topic, the fact that Downton Abbey is about a "first team" family that seems to be in charge of the house, which is actually run by the "second team" of servants shouldn't be lost on Syracuse fans either. While Violet, Countess of Grantham (Jim Boeheim), Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (Kris Joseph) and Lady Edith Crawley (Scoop Jardine) make the headlines, it's the hard work of butler Mr. Carson (Mike Hopkins), footman Thomas (Dion Waiters) and valet John Bates (C.J. Fair, both of whom are secretly the MVPs of their respective teams) that keep everything moving.
Plus, there's a subplot about cousins in love and Syracuse features two guards who are cousins. So there's that as well.
So go watch Downton Abbey (PBS, Sunday, 9pm) and try to figure out which Crawley daughter is Fab Melo (I say Sybil, who was non-essential is season one but a force in season two).