A digital short from Saturday Night Live parodies the Downton Abbey movie in favor of Joker. The movie revolves around a pending visit to the titular estate from King George V and Queen Mary, and requirement of everything to be perfect for the monarchs’ arrival, along with the upheaval in the household caused by the prior appearence of the royal servants and their arrogance towards the Downton staff.
Premiering in the US in January 2011, the period drama ran for six seasons of depicting life in the fictional country estate in the English county of Yorkshire. Taking place from the early 1910s to the mid 1920s, it detailed the everyday lives of the aristocrats and servants, and how they were affected by various historical events. The series gave PBS some of its highest viewing figures, and has won multiple awards for it acting, writing, direction and technical achievements, as well as ones for the series itself as a whole. Its popularity is such that several of its actors went on to greater fame in high-profile productions, and Highclere Castle in Hampshire, the country house where the show was filmed, was listed on Airbnb.
Uploaded to Saturday Night Live’s YouTube channel, the sketch declares Downton Abbey as “the first theatrical release movie you have to rent from the library.” It highlights the genteel and unhurried nature of the story with dialogue stating inconsequential problems and overlain with a number of fake review quotations that satirize the slow pace and demographic appeal of the film, before culminating by declaring the video to be a promo for Joker, contrasting the two by declaring that in the latter things actually happen.
The show’s popularity means this is far from the first time it has been parodied. A previous SNL sketch imagined how it would be advertised if it had aired on Spike TV; a recurring sketch on The Tonight Show called Downton Sixbey details the behind-the-scenes production of a talk show in the style of post-Edwardian drama; a Stephen Colbert sketch mixes the show with Breaking Bad; a Funny or Die sketch casts Michelle Dockery in a gritty cop drama as a tough detective with a habit of sliding into Lady Mary behavior; and a College Humor video reworks the opening rap of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to match the first season’s plot.
The assertion of the Downton Abbey movie’s nature is an accurate one, since aside from a brief sub-plot of an Irish sympathizer assassin attempting to kill the king, the movie is devoid of much in the way of high-stakes drama. The relaxed plotting is more apparent in the film than the TV show, as by nature it’s an entire story playing out over two hours – barely the length of two episodes of the TV show – so the expectation for the shorter time frame to require tighter and more eventful storytelling only highlights the lack of any consequential conflict. To be fair, the calm and moderate plotting of the show was a part of what many people loved about it, so it only makes sense to continue that tradition in the big-screen version, since fans really wouldn’t want anything else from it.
Source: Saturday Night Live