They are beyond what most people would consider their prime, and they are both anxious about being unattractive to the other person. You know, like most of us feel at one time or another.
Sunday night was the wedding of the year, as far as I am concerned. The butler and housekeeper of “Downton Abbey,” Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, were married in front of friends, employers, are co-workers.
Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes are not the kind of people most people would think of when they think of a romantic power couple. But here are six reasons I think we should appoint them the Most Romantic Couple on “Downton Abbey” (if not all of television).
1. They begin as work colleagues. There is something special about the foundation of mutual respect and deep trust that they developed over years of working together.
2. By comparison, theirs is a low-drama romance. Mary has a man drop dead in her bed and a husband who dies in a car accident only an hour or two after she gives birth. Sybill’s romance with Tom was fraught and ended in her death. Edith’s beloved similarly dies. And don’t even get started with Mr. and Mrs. Bates, who have both been murder suspects, victims of violence or household intrigue, and have racked up more squabbles than I can count. By contrast, the most drama they could wring out of the Carson-Hughes nuptials was a tiny tiff over where the reception would be held.
3. They are beyond what most people would consider their prime, and they are both anxious about being unattractive to the other person. You know, like most of us feel at one time or another.
4. Love makes them beautiful. It does not matter that both are dressed in their uniforms. When they are on screen together, their chemistry and genuine fondness makes it easy for me to understand how even the most conventionally unattractive people become beautiful in each other’s eyes.
5. Even though it was painfully embarrassing, and they had to rope a third party into it, they communicated about their sexual needs and expectations. And that is more than many of us do, even in a culture where such conversations should come easily.
6. They love each other because of how age has shaped them, not in spite of it. Mrs. Hughes finds Mr. Carson’s grumpy old man act endearing. And he finds her beautiful even when her friends are worried about her dowdy dress. Their ability to see themselves as utterly ridiculous and yet completely lovable is something we can all use.
The romance between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes reminds us that we don’t have to be young and beautiful to love and to be loved. They reassure us that not all love stories require a lot of drama and plot twists. And in them we see ourselves as most of us hope to be one day: old and comfortable and loved.
Lynn Beisner writes about family, social justice issues, and the craziness of daily life. Her work can be found on Role Reboot, Alternet, and on her blog: Two Parts Smart-Ass; One Part Wisdom. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.