There is a huge mass appeal to period dramas. But what is it that makes them so interesting for people who really know nothing of that world other than vague stories and, of course, the period dramas themselves?
Is it the throwback to a forgotten time when things were simpler, when everyone knew their place and communities were close knit affairs, not internet chat sites that saw people be best friends with people they had never even met? Is it the yearning for something different, the ultimate escapism into a time that held infinite potential and was filled with ‘gentlemen’ and ‘real ladies’ rather than lads and ladettes, yobs and thugs?
Or is it something more simple? A surprising number of people relate to the feel of the period more than the characters, meaning that much of the allure could be down to look of period dramas rather than what they are actually saying. Many modern period dramas offer allegories for the current state of the world and therefore emotionally they may simply carry a similar impact. So could it be that the props and costumes are the things that really get people hooked on these shows and films?
Props are certainly very important; the nostalgia of a forgotten world often comes much more through the fashions and styles than it does through the actions of its characters. So it could be said that the right movie props might be even more important that the right script. When the movie props are just right, it is much easier to gloss over inconsistencies in script or direction, as the audiences’ brains are thoroughly engaged in the look and feel of the piece.
So next time you are watching a period drama, just notice how much of your enjoyment is created through the style rather than the script. You may be surprised.