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Downton Abbey’s Nice Jewish Boy

Introducing the dashing, Rothschild-esque Atticus Aldridge

Rachel Shukert
February 03, 2015
Lady Rose MacClare meets Atticus Aldridge on Season 5, Episode 5 of 'Downton Abbey.'(BBC)
Lady Rose MacClare meets Atticus Aldridge on Season 5, Episode 5 of ‘Downton Abbey.’(BBC)

OK. I take it all back.

Every snarky word I’ve ever written (and believe me, there have been a considerable number) about Downton Abbey and its creator Julian Fellowes’ staunch refusal to ever let anything that might be less than flattering to modern ears slip through an aristocrat’s congenitally stiffened upper lip: the noticeable lack of concern over Cora’s paternal Levinson-ness; the less than a flicker of any sense that perhaps the plight of those newly impoverished post-Revolution Russian refugees might feel slightly less tragic if one paused to consider the brutal oppression and systematic terror those of their class had inflicted on their countrymen for generations. (I’m not saying Communism was perfect, Miss Bunting; I’m saying there was, at one point, a fairly logical reason for it.)

But all is forgiven. To paraphrase Little Shop of Horrors (a far superior examination of class and the way it imprisons those caught on the lower rungs of society), I’m telling the you the bad times are clean washed away. Because Lady Rose MacClare, the lovely daughter of our dearly beloved Shrimpy, has finally found her Nice Jewish Boy.

They first locked eyes, in a classic British meet-cute, in the middle of a pouring rainstorm. Lady Rose was having difficulty negotiating the enormous hampers of cakes she was taking to the poor dear upper-class Russians, and Atticus Aldridge, as he will soon become known to us, offered to hold her umbrella for her. The rest is history, because a) as I mentioned, Rose is very pretty and very free-spirited and romantic and b) Atticus is very tall, very handsome, and was not introduced to her by her parents and/or Lord Grantham.

He also, as he told her somewhat uncomfortably over the course of their windswept stroll, is in possession of Russian blood, his great-grandfather having come over from Odessa in 1859, to be followed by the rest of his family in 1871. That’s odd, Lady Rose frowned, having not been made familiar with the concept of poverty, or indeed, the United States of America. Why would an entire family immigrate in search of a better life, particularly when Russia was such a paradise? Well … “Because he’s not Russian!” screams the little old Russian man, who looks exactly like Professor Lilolman from High Anxiety and therefore more ironically rabbinical than you or I or anyone born after 1912 could ever hope. “He was never Russian!” That’s right! Mr. Aldridge, that big tall Prince William lookalike standing in front of you, is a Jew! A Jew who is a little nervous about telling you he’s Jewish!

Naturally, Lady Rose is utterly baffled as to how this could possibly be seen as a problem (remember, she felt the same way about the black jazz musician) but given that Mr. Aldridge’s father is some sort of Rothschild-esque banker with a title, I think we can safely assume that he’s about 2,000 percent more suitable, and we’ll be seeing much more of him, considering she’s already accepted his invitation for dinner. In Downton Abbey time, that means she’s basically pregnant with his child already (it took Sybil like six years to shake Branson’s hand without gloves on, so you see what I mean). Who knows, maybe he can even give the famously hapless Lord Grantham a little shrewd financial advice. Dress British, think Yiddish. They don’t stick those Ralph Lauren commercials on both ends of the hour for nothing.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.