Downton Rape Scene Causes Controversy

Joanne Froggatt Downton's Anna Bates


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The Downton Abbey episode that played on Prime on the 4th November 2013 was marked for controversy before it screened in New Zealand. I had not paid much attention as I was avoiding spoilers. Yes that is right. I watch Downton Abbey. There I said it.


I knew that there was a sub-plot that resulted in the rape of one of the main characters but until last night I was not aware which one. It did not take long for me to realize that Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) our intrepid Ladies Maid was going to be the victim. This saddened me as I realised that future episodes would almost certainly depict a cold, watchful Anna Bates as she assimilated into her new reality and that what occurred was no less than the murder of a spirit who bought comfort to many through her warmth, compassion and understanding.


I thought the scene and the acting around it was of exceptional quality. Joanne Froggatt played her part extremely well. Her performance got me right in the gut. It will be very interesting to see how the dynamic of the aftermath plays out and if the plot and the acting maintain the excellent perception demonstrated thus far.


Yet it appears evident that many were not happy to have poor Anna Bates' circumstances invading their Downton time. When the show screened in Britain over 400 people made official complaints in protest against the intrusion. We at Cassandra are well versed in the knowledge that life has a terrible tendency to intrude at the most inopportune moments but apparently the cult of denial is alive and well for those who simply cannot bear to see.


Their doing so would be of no importance to me but for the fact that I am also aware that this denial and revulsion is extended to all of those who have shared a variant of Anna Bates' fate. That means you and that means me. Fortunately the Media Watchdog in Britain declined all the complaints and rightly so. Stories that have meaning are often stories of pain and suffering as we all know so well.