Two wildly popular television shows recently aired their respective season finales. At first glance, it would seem that Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead have next to nothing in common; one is about the interplay between the servants and the nobles of a large English manor and the other is about a post-apocalyptic America overrun by undead zombies. However, as I hope to show in the next few paragraphs, the overlap between these shows is actually quite large and has something to teach us about life—and about coffee. Because, after all, what is life without coffee?
Two very different messages emerged from the two finales: forgiveness and paranoia. Or, put another way, hope and fear. Forgiveness and hope were on full display in the Downton finale: several rocky relationships received a much-needed dose of optimism when one or both individuals showed forgiveness to the other. Listing them out here is unnecessary for our purposes; suffice it to say it was a loud theme of the season-ender.
On the other hand, paranoia and fear was the driving theme of The Walking Dead finale. Rick Grimes (note the symbolism of his name) and his tattered band of zombie slayers have been so seared by the new world in which they find themselves, that they are unwilling to trust anyone outside their group. This inability is so severe, it has become a liability to the very people they were claiming to protect. The double-barrel nihilism of the show is such that there is essentially no difference between zombie and human; Rick believes that they are both are trying to kill him, and his response is always the same—kill them first.
The dichotomy between the two shows is no more evident than in their closing scenes: Downton ends with a Christmas toast, while Dead ends with an execution. Both are very clear in their philosophic views of the future and of the end of man. One is hopeful and optimistic; the other is fearful and pessimistic. Live and let live; kill or be killed.
Although much more can and should be said about the worldview tension between these two highly-rated and avidly-watched shows, you are not here to read about philosophy or entertainment, you are here to read about coffee. What, then, is the coffee lesson to be gleaned here? A very simple one to be sure: Great coffee inspires optimism and hope, but bad coffee brings paranoia and fear.
Every meal served at Downton is created with the utmost care and patience, but the food consumed by Rick’s group of headhunters is almost always quick and prepackaged. We could safely extrapolate from this that the coffee on either show would be much the same. Downton coffee-drinkers get to enjoy a well-prepared cup of java, while the Dead coffee-drinkers are most likely subject to instant, at best. It would take much to convince me that this is merely a coincidence. Is it really any wonder that after years of drinking nothing but instant coffee that the Walking Dead characters are so pessimistic about life and human nature? I think not. Let this Downton and Dead lesson be a sober reminder to all of us: Drink Better Coffee (like Thrasher Coffee, for example).