I'm beginning this discussion to act as a hub for bringing to light discoveries anyone has made, or will make in the future, with regard to how Irish culture and Irish people are portrayed and represented in the media (including television and film).
Recent examples are Maureen Dowd's critique on 'Downton Abbey' and the way the Irish are portrayed therein, several Irish songs in the Coen Brothers film "Inside Llewyn Davis", and a PBS 3-part series titled"Chasing Shackleton," about six men who are tracing Kildare-born explorer Ernest Shackleton's bid to rescue his fellow crewmembers in the Antarctic.
So let's use this thread to call attention to these references when and where we come across them.
Ryan, it is only with great difficulty can I watch a soap, even a well made one.
The last film I really enjoyed was "The Field" with Richard Harris as the Irishman to whom the land is everything and Tom Berenger as the American who want to pave over the field and their struggle to get the widow's field. It is a social commentary, meant to be taking place in the 1940s. I'm not sure it paints the Irish in a good light, as it has so many dark moments of the struggle of the farmer doing his best with the old ways and only in the end does he realize that his son has not exactly followed his ways but his intent. A tragic tale that earned Richard Harris his 1991 Oscar nomination.
Currently, I am reading Philomena another sad tale of the treatment of unwed mothers and their children.
Tragedy is everywhere.
(That's funny as I only watched it for a couple seasons at the start!) From what I remember, he said he could go to Dublin and write for a newspaper. He was a writer. Somehow I remember it being independence-leaning, and he certainly had that leaning, at least in the beginning. After joining the family that whole storyline was dropped (unless they brought it up again in the newer seasons). His being a writer came up only a few times as how he would make money if they ran away. I can't remember whether it was explained more than that.
And the remark about the nanny's comments about his baby.... making the lower-class woman the villain and the aristocrat taking umbrage is really just another attempt to make the rich look kind, democratic, intelligent, not bigots, and the servant as deserving of contempt. The old switcheroo. BUT, people enjoying doesn't bother me, and for heaven's sake, it's their right! But, most things are not above criticism... must less a "soap opera". Cheers!
Great topic. I just wrote a blog post about it, mentioning your post here. In my opinion the Irish experience in the mainstream media depends on a director's/writer's/actor's relationship with Ireland. John Ford was very "twee." John Michael McDonagh is satirical. Connor McPherson is spiritual, Jim Sheridan is political, Roddy Doyle is gritty and witty. I have not seen Chasing Shackleton and Inside Llewyn Davis, so those are now on my radar. Having seen two Irish plays on Broadway last year, Outside Mullingar and The Cripple of Inishmaan, I have to say there are times when I think that the world sees us as Happy Go Lucky gobshites! Sad to say.
"The Brothers McMullen" is an interesting movie on three Irish Catholic brothers and their philosophies on life.