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Sherry Young: 'Downtown' is a comfortable escape from connected world

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28 2013 12:00 p.m. MST

Multiple Emmy¨ winner (including Best Miniseries!) Downton Abbey resumes the story of aristocrats and servants in the tumultuous World War I era. The international hit is written by Julian Fellowes and stars Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, plus a drawing room full of new actors, portraying the loves, feuds, and sacrifices of a glittering culture thrown into crisis.

Nick Briggs, ITV for MASTERPIECE

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While I was playing tennis a couple of weeks ago, a twisted knee sidelined me for a day. Since I hadn't watched many of my recorded "Downton Abbey" episodes, I decided to watch them while icing my knee. They were delightful.

In case you aren't familiar with the show, it is a British import aired on PBS that has become a worldwide favorite. Unfortunately, I only started watching it this year in its third season, so I will need to get my hands on the first and second because I really like it.

The filming is done in a real castle with the clothes, the cars and the lifestyle suiting to the times. For me, and I understand many others, it is fascinating to watch.

There is no blatant sex, crude language or (thank heaven) laugh tracks, and the people have manners.

So far, Grit won't surrender his man card for "Downton," although I know lots of men who do and I bet he will get hooked at some point.

"American Idol" is one he will join me watching when it first starts until the finish. It's fascinating to see all the contestants picked and then watch them evolve into an American Idol.

The reason such shows draw me is because people are so fascinating. Think about it. Every person who has ever lived on this earth has different ways of thinking and proceeding on with their lives than we do. While our families and friends may claim to have the same values, social norms and rituals, each person in our family will interpret these in their own unique way. They will have different goals, different people to meet, different situations to figure out and even identical twins will turn out with a different future.

Our son Tom's twins Luke and Max came as exact replicas of one another. Stacy put a wristband on Max's arm and then dressed them in blue and brown every day to be sure they didn't get mixed up.

They looked alike, but it was apparent early on they had different outlooks. Just one example: Luke is a busy, feisty guy and Max is a hugger.

Grit and I went to watch Steve's three oldest children, and what a different lifestyle they have from their father when we were raising him.

We were in the era of hands on, literally. A swift whack to the behind would stop lots of mischief and now would be termed child abuse.

No homework in grade school for our kids. Theirs had some every night, and 12-year-old Braedon had homework every night and on weekends. Our kids walked to the grade school and then played there with the neighborhood kids unsupervised.

While in California, we bought an iPad, which Jackson and Summer showed us how to use. They are electronically connected to the world.

This generation will be uniquely its own, but will it be an improvement?

"The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s," says anxiety specialist Robert L. Leahy, "and we are getting more anxious every decade."

He continues, "Some of the reasons may be a decrease in 'social connectedness' — we tend to move more, change jobs, participate less in civic organizations … religious communities. People are far less likely to get married, more likely to delay getting married, and more likely to live alone. All of these factors can contribute to worry, uncertainty, anxiety and depression."

Perhaps that is why "Downton" is so appealing — because it's a look into a socially connected world possibly not as complicated as our own.

email: sasyoung2@aol.com

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