We love “Downton Abbey” as much as the Dowager Countess loves feathery hats. But we also recognize that its stuffy setting and genteel dialogue make it an easy target for parody. And pop culture has obliged by giving us a number of spot-on spoofs of the oh-so-addictive Edwardian soap opera.
So pour yourself a cup of tea and get ready for this weekend’s “Downton” season finale by checking out eight hilarious parodies of the show. Some of these might even make the Dowager crack a smile! (Or… maybe not.)
“Breaking Abbey” (“The Colbert Report”)
“Downton” stars Hugh Bonneville, Rob James-Collier, and Jim Carter were game to poke fun at themselves in this ingenious mash-up of two of our favorite shows: “Downton” and AMC’s meth-trade thriller “Breaking Bad.” Here, Lord Grantham (sporting a Walter White goatee) solves Downton’s money woes by “brewing the black chamomile crank.” Is there anything better than hearing Bonneville talk about “kicking it with mad b----es and benjamins”? We don’t believe there is. (Warning: This clip contains some very un-“Downton”-like language.)
“Upside Downton Abbey” (“Sesame Street”)
“Downton’s” PBS neighbor opted to go cute rather than nasty with this gentle spoof. In it, a Muppet Dowager Countess asks Mr. Carson to fetch her some tea… only to have it spill out immediately, since everything at this estate is upside down. Good thing Carson is there to throw a switch and transform the home into “Rightside Upton Abbey.”
Downton Abbey Dogs (Dogster)
The canine-lovers over at Dogster took the “Downton” cast and found the perfect pooch pairing for each of them. We’re partial to Mr. Bates as a basset hound:
Now they did cheat a little when pairing up the Dowager Countess with a Persian cat… but it is kind of perfect, isn’t it?
"Downton Arby’s" (Yahoo!)
Not to toot our own horn, but this Yahoo! sketch might be the funniest take on “Downton” we’ve seen online. “Arby’s” starts with a stroke of brilliance, relocating the aristocratic Crawleys to a low-rent Arby’s franchise, but keeps the family’s trademark haughtiness. We love the sight of Lady Sybil fraternizing with (gasp!) a fry cook and the great Richard Kind, as Lord Arby, giving us lines like “And an extra horsey sauce you shall have.”
“Downton Abbey” on Spike TV (“Saturday Night Live”)
We still can’t stop giggling at this “SNL” fake ad, which imagines how bro-tastic Spike TV would promote “Downton Abbey.” Setting the scene with “it’s about a bunch of honkies that live in a church,” the way-too-macho narrator tries to pump up the dude appeal by referring to the Crawley daughters as “hot, way hot, and… the other one.” (Poor Edith.) Bonus points for the flame-engulfed graphics and renaming the Dowager Countess “the Chicken Lady.”
“Downton Sixbey” (“Late Night With Jimmy Fallon”)
Speaking of “SNL,” alum Jimmy Fallon has his own version of “Downton,” called “Downton Sixbey” (since “Late Night” shoots in Studio 6B). The star-studded cast includes Brooke Shields, Whoopi Goldberg, and -- easily the highlight -- “SNL’s” Fred Armisen as the hopelessly plain Lady Hedith. (Again, poor Edith! That girl really takes a beating in these parodies.) Fallon’s British accent could use some work, though.
“The Fresh Prince of Downton Abbey” (CollegeHumor)
We’re fans of “Downton’s” haunting piano theme, but CollegeHumor definitely kicks it up a notch here by combining it with another classic: the immortal “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song. The beauty is in the details: the spinning chair, the lyrics (“In Manchester, England I reside/a middle-class lawyer with my mum at my side”), and the closing shot of the Prince-to-be smooching a portrait of Mary.
“Uptown Downstairs Abbey” (The BBC)
Step aside, Yanks: Who better to mock “Downton Abbey” than the Brits themselves? And they do a bang-up job of it with this wicked parody, produced for U.K. fundraiser Red Nose Day, which kicks off with the sinking of the Titanic and the tragic death of Downton’s heir… Leonardo DiCaprio. Keep an eye out for TV stars like “Ab Fab’s” Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley and “Sex and the City’s” Kim Cattrall. (Hey, she is British, you know.)
The Season 3 finale of “Downton Abbey” airs Sunday, 2/17 at 9 PM on PBS.