The Lazy Genius Collective

Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't.

Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't.

The Best Boyfriends of Downton Abbey

It's over. Downton Abbey is no more, and I'm embarrassed about how genuinely sad I am to see the Crawleys go. So as a salve for our broken English aristocratic souls, let's look at our favorite boyfriends from the entire series. 

13. Michael Gregson

He was the first man, other than that old guy who left her at the altar, to really love Edith, but he brought along some drama. He was married, got her pregnant, went to Germany to be legally worthy of her, disappeared, and then died, leaving Edith his magazine and posh London apartment. Yes, he gave her some necessary boosts in the self-esteem and fashion departments, but Michael Gregson was pretty much a Saltine -  perfectly acceptable but absolutely your last choice if other crackers presented themselves. RIP.

12. Mr. Pamuk

Mr. Pamuk aggressively seduced Lady Mary in her own bedchamber (you have to say bedchamber when speaking of the English) and then just died in her bed. I mean, what?! He broke every rule of English decorum in roughly 14 minutes and then wreaked havoc for several seasons. Let's recap the damage he caused:

  • The evil former Mrs. Bates learned of Mary's rendezvous with Mr. Pamuk and threatened to bring down the Crawley family if Mr. Bates didn't give into her demands.
  • Mary's newspaper mogul boyfriend Richard Carlisle bought the scandalous story from Mrs. Bates to protect Mary but then acted like he owned her afterward. After-dinner fist fights ensued. Carlisle was a class A jerk.
  • Matthew couldn't forgive Mary for her indiscretion with Mr. Pamuk which kept them apart for an irrational amount of time. 

Clearly, he wielded power with more than just his jawline.  

Perhaps he shouldn't be ranked at all; he was inappropriate and disrespectful of Mary's wishes when he broke into her bedroom (even though, yeah, she totally gave in and had sex with him). Still... it's Four. He's super hot, so the list he must make.

Mary: He's dead. I think he's dead. No, I'm sure he's dead.
Anna: How?
Mary: We were together, and now he's dead.

Best line about a one night stand ever.

11. Atticus Aldridge

Remember him? Rose's eventual husband? He showed up in the finale, and I was all, "Atticus! You're so... nice!" Not super memorable in my book, but he was kind to Rose and traversed the rocky ground that was his entitled and flawed father pretty well. It takes a strong and sweet-spirited man to handle Lady Rose, and I always liked the guy, even though all I can really remember is that he was Jewish and kind of secretive about it.

10. Alfred

Sweet Alfred. Sweet, naive, stupid Alfred. 

The heart breaks often while watching Downton, but mine broke a lot watching Daisy pine for him while he paid attention to Ivy. And then he was clueless when he realized that he actually dug Daisy. All the missed connections.

But the kid was dear and kind and passionate and he just wants to be a chef forthelove! Can't a white guy get any breaks around here? I love how Mary described him: "like a puppy that's been rescued from a puddle."

Alfred to Daisy, right before he leaves Downton: You've always been so good to me, Daisy, so true. I could never see it."

Damn straight.

9. Jack Ross

Jack was classy. Sure, he snuck around with Rose, but he was simply trying to protect her reputation, knowing how her family felt about him. In dramatic romantic fashion, he let the woman he loved go because it would be better for her. 

He was also man enough to admit that Rose was trying to make a statement by being with him. Points for that esteem-crippling honesty. He'd be higher on the list, but frankly the bandleader boyfriend is not ideal. Traveling all the time and working nights always? I like having Netflix to myself on occasion, but there is a line. And it stops at bandleader.

8. Charles Blake

He started out as a liar and insulted Mary and her family like he was playing for points. That makes me suspicious. But the pig sty scene is when we all liked Charles, including Mary. And that late dinner/breakfast in the kitchen afterward? Scrambled eggs and red wine have never been sexier.

Mary: Rather than add to the list of men I've disappointed, it might be kinder to refuse you now and let you off the hook.
Charles: I'm afraid I couldn't allow that, not without putting up a fight.

He had gumption, that one. And despite the floppy English bangs, he was super hot.

7. Andy

The dearest human scarecrow I've ever seen. Sure, we don't have any real finality to his relationship with Daisy, but oh my goodness they're like a box of sugar-coated donuts. The happiness just gets all over your furniture but no one cares. 

P.S. The scene on the lawn when he admits he can't read? Beautifully vulnerable for him and heartbreaking for Thomas who finds himself "out of a job" again. That one killed me.

P.P.S. The scene in the finale when he was nailing shingles and was all sweaty and dirty in that white undershirt? HUBBA FREAKING HUBBA.

6. Tony Gillingham

I ADORE Tony Gillingham. Like, for realz realz. Imagine the most middle-school handwriting in the pinkest pen possible, and I will write Tony all the love notes I can muster. 

Tony is classy, kind, respectful, honorable, and a dude. He doesn't sit back like some guys we know while Mary is courted by multiple people. Nope, he lets her know his deal upfront, even being willing to break up with a lovely girl who he "gets on with" in order to be with Mary. 

And she says no, that she still isn't over Matthew. His awesome better-than-Charles-Blake-English-bangs move in the breeze, and he turns away, crestfallen. And then he asks her for a favor - for one kiss to remember this moment where he'll never love again as he loves her right then. And we all died. OH YEAH he also told her she fills his brain. His beautiful rugged English brain.

Of course, things don't end as well for him in the end. He convinces her to spend a scandalous weekend with him at a hotel to see if they are "compatible," and even though it seems they are in the sheets, they aren't on the streets, at least according to Mary. She dumps him. Again. And he gets kind of whiny. But you know, the guy looks more fly in tweed than anyone on this planet, so he gets a pass.

5. Bertie Pelham

Oh my word, Bertie. I found him zero percent attractive at first, but his heart made him even more handsome. Yes, I just said that don't judge me whatever. 

The scene when he helped Edith get the magazine out after she fired her editor? He offered to make coffee and fetch sandwiches instead of just taking over like most men might have done. His love for Edith and his heartbreak over her dishonesty with him... all of it just made me like him more and more.

AND WHEN HE CRIED AT THE RITZ OVER EDITH? There are no words to describe how precious that was. And even though I have no idea what a marquis is, I get great satisfaction in Edith finally outranking Mary. 

4. Mr. Bates

Season one Bates? Oh. Hands down the favorite of the boyfriends. This interaction with Anna on the way to the flower festival?

Anna: I love you, Mr. Bates. I know it's not ladylike to say it, but I'm not a lady and I don't pretend to be.
Bates: You are a lady to me. And I never knew a finer one.

SWOON. But after he was wrongfully imprisoned, he got surly and secretive. And then that whole business with Anna and Tony's valet made him even worse. Understandably, but you know. But once the Bates couple caught a break, he once again became the dearest teddy bear you don't want to meet in a dark alley. 

Bates will be loyal to you until the day you die; just don't be surprised if he threatens to kill some people along the way. Sue me, but I like it when my boyfriends keep people alive.

3. Matthew Crawley

Matthew was mostly perfect. Patient, understanding, a soldier, loyal, the first one who brought out the real Mary, and was willing to sacrifice his future with her because he already promised a future to Lavinia. Annoyingly honorable.

And that's the problem. This whole noble "I just want her to be happy" crap? Take a play from Tony, Matthew, and pursue the girl with fortitude. No apologies. Take no prisoners, except the prisoner of love ohmygosh I'm so sorry for that.

I will never speak ill of Matthew for more than 40 seconds, but for all of his awesomely respectable qualities, sometimes altogether they make me nauseated, and nausea doesn't land you in the top spot. Neither does dying in a car crash, but I guess I can't really blame him for that.

2. Henry Talbot

Can I have a moment alone, please? And then can you all stay away but send Henry into the room?  HOLY GRACIOUS. When he showed up at the end of season five, my lungs took the day off. I couldn't stop giggling and running out of breath and wishing he would be in more scenes. And when he jumped in that car and drove away from a swoony Lady Mary, I loathed possibly never seeing him again.

THANK YOU, JULIAN FELLOWS, FOR GIVING US MORE HENRY TALBOT. Henry is all the things - hot, risky, loving, hot, loyal, strong-willed, honoring, hot, hot, and hot. Did I mention he's hot? Because I totally think he's hot. 

I'm so glad you're in the family, Henry. Mary doesn't deserve you, but the rest of us do.

Also every time he had Master George on his shoulders? My ovaries exploded.

1. Tom Branson


Let's recap. He was the chauffeur. He was impassioned about social and class injustices. He took a chance talking to Sybil. He fell in love with her. He stood up to Lord Grantham about his right to be with her. He married her. He left her in Ireland... which is definitely a negative but it's just the one! Then he mourned her death making all of our hearts ache and thus became the hot single dad who was the eye of all the maids and schoolteachers. He left for America, and we missed him. Then he came back and made everyone at ease again. He was the matchmaker between Henry and Mary, and - my favorite part - SLAMMED Mary when she dumped Henry. That scene where he yelled at her for making everyone else miserable to mask her own misery? Oh my word. There will never be anyone as amazing as Tom Branson. 

Tom's response when Lord Grantham tries to pay him off to stay away from Sybil: 
You think you have the monopoly of honor. Doesn't it occur to you that I might believe that the best guarantee of Sybil's happiness lies with me?

The monopoly of honor. No, Tom, YOU have the monopoly of honor. And the top spot of all the Downton boyfriends. Congratulations.

We'll miss you, Downton Abbey. And so do the four major networks who passed on you before PBS gave you a chance.

Is your list different? Who is your favorite Downton guy?