APOLOGY FOR SNOBBERY

I love this sitcom. Keeping Up Appearances (5 series, 44 episodes), aired from October 1990 till December 1995, is # 12 on the list of 100 best British sitcoms since 1954. Now it may be watched on YouTube.

Hyacinth Bucket, a middle class woman, wants to rise socially, and being obsessed by this goal, is involved in an endless stream of comic situations. She is torn apart between what she understands as her “low” origin, and her aspirations. She insists that her surname should be pronounced in a French way – “Bouquet”, she drops names trying to create the impression that she rubs shoulders with an elite, she henpecks her husband for his perspiring too much while gardening, etc. Her biggest headache is her relatives: two sisters (one of whom is married to a “bone-idle” guy) and her senile father. All the relatives live in a rundown council house and they don’t particularly care for the order and cleanliness inside or outside it. Her father is prone to run periodically from home to meet women of easy virtue, whereupon the whole clan starts looking for him – being afraid that he might have fled to the trenches of World War I, which he thinks is still going on.

Snobs are usually disliked. The starring actress Patricia Routledge also said that she had opposed snobbery in real life. However, while watching this sitcom episode after episode I warmed up to Ms Bucket’s (sorry, Bouquet’s) pursuit of perfectionism. I enjoy her exquisite English which is echoing the language of Victorian novels; the interior of her house is immaculate; even when she’s angered she never shows her true emotions that may hurt people who are the cause of that anger. I don’t know why the blunt straightforwardness or defiant slovenliness of her sisters should be more positive than her intention to look better. And when Hyacinth “Bouquet” makes a laughing-stock of herself, I don’t always laugh with the laughter track: I’m just …a little sorry for the “lady of the house” who, snobbishly, forces her way to the top from the lowest rung by means of her bootstraps and never goes an inch higher.

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