Saturday, January 22, 2011

Let's take a moment to appreciate Elizabeth McGovern

Speaking of Downton Abbey, we should take a moment to appreciate Elizabeth McGovern. In Downton Abbey, the wildly popular British television series, McGovern plays the wealthy American mistress of an English great house in the early 20th century. The series is currently airing in the US on PBS's Masterpiece, which means I have been enjoying Maggie Smith deliver such memorable lines as, "What is a 'weekend'?" But back to Elizabeth McGovern, who is all sidelong glances, squinting inquisitions, and breathy understatement. "We will discuss that later," she says of her daughter's behavior as a corpse lay scandalously on her daughter's bed. She is fabulous in this production. And the hats! Also, I think it's worth appreciating McGovern's history in queer roles, including Moira, the underground lesbian rebel, in the film version of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and Ellen Doubleday, Daphne du Maurier's intense and flirty but ultimately unrequited love interest (her publisher's elegant wife) in Daphne.

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