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Oh Dear Lord, Not Shirley MacLaine in ‘Downton Abbey’

Shirley Maclaine in a silly pink feathered dress in 'Bewitched,' looking ridiculous

Brassy warhorse Shirley MacLaine is joining the cast of Downton Abbey for season three, we’ve just heard

Please: no.

This smacks of somebody’s terrible idea of “keeping the show fresh” and “capturing the Amercian audience.” Memo to the producers: you’ve already captured the American audience. We’re watching in droves. You don’t have to play down to us.

The very, very, very last thing anyone wants is a jokey subplot about a sassy old American dame invading Downton Abbey. (Sassy and brassy have been MacLaine’s go-to character traits for decades.) We don’t need her going “toe-to-toe” with Maggie Smith. We don’t need her shocking the servants with her blunt American ways, the butler biting his tongue and then shaking his head when he gets downstairs. We don’t need her lecturing her daughter about women’s rights or smoking in public or whatever the relevant and historically-accurate issues were in 1921.  

Downton Abbey

In short, Downton Abbey needs Shirley MacLaine about as badly as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo needed a remake with Rooney Mara.

Yes, she’s an Oscar-winner. But put it this way: What has Shirley MacLaine been in since Terms of Endearment (30 years ago!) that made you say either “That was a great, classy movie” or “Gee, Shirley MacLaine was terrific”? Was it Cannonball Run II? BewitchedThese Old Broads

Variety says the Downton deal was “brokered by” talent agency ICM, a note which smells suspiciously of “synergy” and dealmaking. Has anyone really thought this through? Couldn’t MacLaine just make a one-episode cameo, ringing in on a trunk call from Manhattan and then disappearing forever? Is it too late to have her go down with the Titanic?

How can they be ruining this show already when I’ve just started watching it?

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