I thought I’d have some fun and note the occasions when other countries are mentioned. DM certainly provides a fair share of joking about the English, e.g. all the tea they like to drink, the way they eat their eggs, the accents. Then I couldn’t help noticing the time when Louisa reads from a book about babies and elicits a snide comment from Martin about America. That made me curious about how Americans are viewed by the British. I discovered that the English, and especially those who live in Cornwall, are known to have some anti-American sentiments. Nevertheless, many Brits like to come to the US. Surprisingly, it’s the second most popular place to travel to from England (or the most popular, depending on which reference you check).
Here’s the scene from S5E1: Louisa and Martin have brought the baby home from the hospital and Martin thinks Louisa should put the baby to bed. Louisa doesn’t have the crib put together yet and tells M the baby can sleep with her. M thinks that’s a bad idea and L quotes from a book that “infants are twice as likely to suffer a sleep related fatality in a crib as those who co-sleep in a bed with their parents (or parent).” M asks if the book is American and L responds that they have babies in America. It turns out this quote is from Dr. William Sears, M.D. (He does recommend strict guidelines for placing the baby in bed with parents and warns that if those guidelines are not followed, there is some danger of SIDS. Other American pediatricians have noted that when babies sleep with their parents they are likely to breastfeed more frequently and breastfeeding might be protective against SIDS.) I don’t consider the idea of infants co-sleeping with their parents a very good one and was surprised that an American pediatrician mentions that statistic, but there it is in Sears’ advice.
France also gets some backhanded treatment. For example, in S6E8 Martin wants Joe Penhale to drive him to the airport. Joe wonders if Martin’s going somewhere nice. M answers, “not really” and Joe says, “Oh, France.” (I’m pretty sure that isn’t the only time France is mentioned in a degrading way, but I can’t seem to find the other occasion. I’ll keep looking, but if anyone remembers where it is, please let me know.)
Portugal is mentioned as a vacation spot and M’s parents have moved to Portugal in retirement. I love the scene where Martin is driving L home from the hospital and asks her if she doesn’t think she should move to London with him now that the baby has arrived. L coyly says that maybe once he’s gotten himself settled she and the baby could come to visit him. Then he says London is not a holiday destination, it’s not Portugal. It’s as though Portugal exists to provide amusement for travelers.
Louisa’s mother has moved to Spain and that’s where L is going with James at the end of S6. Spain is actually a very popular place for Brits to go with Portugal coming in 8th. (Again, where you look matters and some sources list Portugal as more popular than Spain.)
Of course, Al goes to Africa. He talks about going to Uganda, although it’s never quite clear if that’s where he went. His experience in Africa is pretty awful. Everything he has gets stolen, he has to work in a factory, sleep rough, and he comes home with sleeping sickness after being bitten by a bug. His trip wasn’t very scenic and he hasn’t seen any of the animals or sights. He’s experienced all of the dangers of Africa and none of the pleasures.
For me, these little asides are meant to be lighthearted, especially in view of the international appeal of DM. Or maybe the writers are just poking fun at some of the destinations. Considering the general lack of interest in travel amongst the people of Portwenn, the fact that one of the running jokes is about life in and travel to other countries is especially amusing. Maybe the villagers are better off staying in Portwenn!
Originally posted 2014-02-23 21:41:12.