Remarks about America and France, other countries too

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.

10 thoughts on “Remarks about America and France, other countries too

  1. Jocelyn Thompson

    One remark that made me stop in my tracks was ME’s use of the word “bushfire” when he was trying to talk Mrs Tishall down at the castle. It is very much an Aussie word and it seemed quite odd to me that he would use it. Outside of Australia, the usual word used is forest fire which to us in Oz sounds weird but would be much more in context than bushfire in this scene. On the other hand, maybe the rest of the world is beginning to adopt our word.

  2. Post author

    You’re so right. I hadn’t really paid much attention to the use of that word, but now that you mention it…Do you think it’s a way to bring in Australia? In US we might use wildfire, and we do have them, especially in CA. When M says “bushfire,” he really puts some emphasis on it, and the word really fits better there than the other choices. I’m no linguist, but the “b” sound at the beginning of the word is so good with what he’s saying. The other words wouldn’t be nearly as effective.

  3. Linda

    In S4E5, there was the refernce to the au pair catching something when she was on holiday. Also in S5 the pub owner caught a nasty disease when he went on a booze cruise to France. Actually, I think France has been mentioned several times as an undesirable place to visit.

  4. Post author

    Thanks, Linda!! That’s exactly when there was another mention of France. Mark Bridge of the Crab and Lobster took the ferry to France and got an infection that led to Reiter’s disease. Yeah, and the au pair I think went to Costa Rica and picked up an amoeba that causes both her and the Wenn boy to get sick. I guess we’re really covering places all over the world! But France appears to be the winner of the most negative comments, yet it’s the easiest country for Brits to get to. Maybe that’s it, too close for comfort!!

  5. Theresa

    Thanks for the Aussie explanation on bushfire. I had just assumed it was used by the Brits, too. It sure makes sense when you substitute forest fire in its place. Forest fires are quite common here in Montana. I do listen for the comments about America and the other countries and get a laugh every time – not in a mean way though.

    This is the one show that it pays to listen to every single word. Those subtle comments add laughs to every episode.

    I really liked Louisa’s comment to Martin – “They have babies in America”. Didn’t know it was a quote from Dr. Sears so thanks for that.

    One of the things I always pay special attention to is when they talk about the Cornish pasty. Haven’t seen the Doc eat one yet but I’m still hoping. I grew up on them – had them at every holiday dinner, wedding reception and for dinner now and then. My grandmothers both came to America in the early 1900’s and eventually settled in Montana. The Cornish pasty is very popular here in Montana – a new restaurant that specializes in them just opened near my house – can’t beat that.

  6. Post author

    I had no idea that Montana has Cornish pasties. This world is smaller than we think, huh! I enjoy the laughs from some of the little jokes they slip in too.

  7. Mary

    Every time I have heard France described in an insulting but humorous way was by way of Joe Penhale, who apparently is not enamored of French anything. He responds to a place “that lacks hygiene” as “like France” or when the Doc smells the funky wallpaper that contains arsenic that its like “french cooking”. Apparently Penhale has made up his mind that nothing ever good comes from a place like France. His naive assumptions and comic timing are perfect every time!

  8. Post author

    Thanks for remembering some more times when France is mentioned. I knew there were more! They give those lines to Penhale but I’m not sure we’re supposed to only associate the anti-French sentiments with him. It’s like Shakespeare when the fool often expresses what’s behind a scene. Since they undercut France so often, I would say it’s another funny yet subtle way to get some digs in. I enjoy finding these references and getting a laugh from them, don’t you?

  9. Ryan J.

    Hi Karen,

    Just a quick note to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog. Really appreciate all the time and effort you put into it and I especially enjoy all the thoughtful replies!

    Glad to see I’m not the only obsessive DM fan out there. Can’t wait for S7.

    Keep up the good work, or as DM would say “Well Done!”


  10. Post author

    Thanks! Welcome to the blog! We’ve somehow managed to keep coming up with things to write about.

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