Friday, April 08, 2011

Upstairs Downstairs

When I was a young boy (yes, I was young once), I can remember my mother excitedly tuning in to every weekly episode of the series Upstairs Downstairs that was broadcast on our local PBS station every week.

When the original series aired, I was far too young to really understand what it was all about. I had a vague idea that it was about people that existed in two different worlds: The privileged people who lived the high life "upstairs", and the poor folks who worked "downstairs" to ensure that the lives of the people "upstairs" were not disrupted.

I don't pretend to understand the appeal of this show to my mother, but I can make an educated guess: My mom was never rich by any stretch of the imagination. She grew up in a small rural town, on a working small farm. She was one of the first children in her family to go to college and get a degree. In other words, she worked very hard to exceed all expectations.

She used her degree to become a school teacher; to enrich young lives. It was a career she continued throughout her working life. When she first stopped working to raise me and my sister, she went back to teaching after she first left the profession. It was a career she continued until her cancer forced her to retire.

Perhaps coincidentally, the time she took off from her career was right around the time the first episode of Upstairs Downstairs aired in the U.S. And even if she had to watch it on a tiny Black & White TV (look it up, sparky!) with a fuzzy signal, she had to have appreciated how important it was to see how much the lower class people made sure the upper class depended on them.

Perhaps not. Maybe she was just a fan of well-written, quality television shows (a rarity in this day and age).

At any rate, a sequel to U-D is going to air this Sunday in the U.S. I plan on tuning it to watch it. In honor of my mom, if for no other reason.

God save the Queen!

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