PBS Masterpiece Theatre is showing on Sunday nights Cranford with Judy Densch and company. It is on at the same time as ABC-TV's Desperate Housewives. Let me suggest this is the real desperate housewives as viewers get a look into England in the early 1840's when the Industrial Revolution was coming to the hinterlands by way of the new fangled railways - and life as the citizens of Cranford had known it for 200 maybe even 400 years is about to change forever.
The Patent Similarities
There are some similarities between the two shows. Women drive the various entwined storylines. Social position and love gone astray are major themes among those stories. And Men are players but more as agents of change than characters of interest. Cranford breaks this latter mold the most with the Good Doctor and the Railroad manager - but both shows follow the female point of view most closely.
The difference is that in Desperate Housewives the conniving and machinations of the women are primarily internally driven by vanity, venality, and "social events". In Cranford, vanity and venality are at play but also a sense of allegiance to a greater social order. If that were the entire show Cranford would be just a jot better than Desperate Housewives.
But what drives the latter two thirds of Cranford, the coming of the railroad and all the myriad, unexpected and upsetting effects this has on the social order is strikingly resemblant of say Globalization or The Information Revolution and what repercussions they are having on contemporary life. Take a look at Cranford - and see if you don't spot a few Presque Vues of contemporary society in a most entertaining dance of life.
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