In some ways, it's unassailably respectable: a Sunday night costume drama, oozing the cream of the British acting profession. But it's not particularly worthy or worthwhile, and yet neither is it trashy or amoral enough to be watched with irony. It falls equidistantly between the two vastly separated stools of Our Friends in the North and RuPaul's Drag Race. Watching it is nothing to be proud of, but neither is it sufficiently shaming to be conversationally interesting.
I've seen every single episode. I enjoy it enormously. I'm already looking forward to the Christmas special. I also think it's shit. Not badly acted or filmed – but appallingly scripted and structured. Utterly inept with regard to these elements of television production which I previously considered vital to a drama's success – or certainly its enjoyability. Yet I undoubtedly do enjoy Downton Abbey, and not "because it's so terrible". I unironically enjoy it despite how bad it is. Is that what they call cognitive dissonance? Or is it just really liking footage of a stately home?