I want the money, I want the fameWhat did spoiled, trust-fund attention whores do before television—much less the Internet—was invented? That's the premise of this Reality TV Mockumentary, self-described as Downton Abbey meets Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which premiered on Comedy Central in June 2015.It's 1902, and the Bellacourt family are the scions of ritzy Newport, Rhode Island—which doesn't stop social-climbing sisters Lillian and Beatrice (co-creators Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome) from being as lazy, greedy, self-centered, petty, and mean-spirited as possible to each other and everyone else. Then again, the entire household is pretty much batshit insane from top to bottom, from the extended Bellacourt clan to the army of butlers and chambermaids who serve their every deranged whim.The show pokes fun at period-accurate attitudes regarding race, class, and sexuality, and somehow Crosses the Line Twice in every single scene.A second season was greenlit in August 2015.
I want the whole world to know my name
This is mine, I gotta get it
Gotta get it, got, got to get it
I want the whole world to know my name
This is mine, I gotta get it
Gotta get it, got, got to get it
This show provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Both Lillian and Beatrice have numerous offspring—all of whom have been fobbed off on the maids to raise. Chair is horrified to discover that "putting the children to bed" translates into "feeding them morphine drops." This works on all but the eldest child, who admits "I've built up a tolerance."
- The Commodore and Dodo display this trope in spades as well. They rarely ever show any affection towards their children, routinely insult them, and are glad when they're not around. By the end of the first season, the Commodore has disowned Lillian and Beatrice and kicked them out of the mansion.
- The Alcoholic: Mark Twain gets drunk a lot, and so does Dodo.
- Ambiguously Jewish: In "Modern Pigs," the Commodore tells the Confession Cam "Never again will they say, ‘You won't amount to anything, Harold Bellawitcz’—I mean, Bellacourt," with an embarrassed look—which suggests that his family aren't actually blue-blood WASPs, as everyone else in Newport high society are.
- Arranged Marriage: Frederick and Celery are betrothed to each other, mostly so that their fathers can seal a business deal. They have no love for each other, as Frederick is still in love with Beatrice and Celery realizes that Frederick is an idiot.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Lillian's reaction to learning that Beatrice has been sold to Thomas Edison to star in a stag film.Lillian: Apparently Beatrice has been sold into white slavery—and what's worse, she's acting!
- Auto Erotica: Horse-and-buggy edition. A drunk Dodo rewards Peepers with a blow job for impersonating the Commodore at Mark Twain's party. The next day, she has no memory of the event, merely vowing never to drink absinthe again.
- Berserk Button: Don't insult Native Americans in front of Peepers.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Bellacourts obviously count as an example.
- Brother-Sister Incest/Twincest: Beatrice (despite being married) regularly has sex with twin brother Frederick.
- Bury Your Gays: In the aptly-named episode "Divorce," the sisters concoct a scheme to lose husbands Victor and Albert: they will be paid several million dollars to disappear, be declared legally dead, and allow the sisters to remarry. The husbands "disappear" only as far as the guest house, then accidentally show up during their own funeral.
- Buxom Is Better: Chauncey Alistair thinks so. For this reason, he thinks Hortense is more beautiful than Lillian or Beatrice, shocking all three sisters.
- Camp Gay: Victor Schmemmerhorn-Fish and Albert Downsy. Despite being the de facto husbands of Lillian and Beatrice, respectively, they are carrying on a very visible affair with one another. No one else in the household bats an eyelash.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- "Pageant" begins with Dodo practicing her blow-dart expertise on a passing American eagle. Later, when Lillian is in danger of losing the beauty pageant to Beatrice, she uses the dart gun to sedate her sister mid-song.
- Garfield's Companion Cube "Towel" becomes this in "Doggy Dinner Party," when Chair—whose attempts to seduce Garfield into giving her the key to Dodo's morphine cabinet—gets her revenge by informing Peepers that one of the household towels has gone missing. When Peepers discovers that Garfield has the missing towel, he fires the underbutler.
- Companion Cube: Garfield has two (so far): the towel that Chair gave him named "Towel", and a mop called "Eileen"—who he urges "Towel" not to be jealous of…
- Confession Cam: As befits a reality-TV parody. Even one set in 1902.
Beatrice: Some of the stuff I did was pretty embarrassing, but luckily, nobody saw it except for me, the director, the cameraman, the two actors, and the noisy box with the glass eye. [points to camera] Kind of looks like that one.
- Lampshaded by Beatrice upon escaping the set of Thomas Edison's stag film:
- Convenient Coma: Albert goes into a coma after being injured by a tomahawk in the third episode. This was done because his actor David Wain was busy with other projects, allowing Wain to still appear on the show but not perform too much.
- Also Chair after Blanche pushes her down the stairs.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Although it's a comedy, this trope features frequently in every episode. Racism, misogyny, and classism are ubiquitous, and everyone pretty much goes along with it.
- The Ditz/What an Idiot: Beatrice and Frederick. Dear God, Beatrice and Frederick…
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Garfield the valet is traumatized after being "ravished" by visiting dowager Pussy Von Anderstein. The rest of the household dismiss his plight; Peepers, in fact, insists Garfield should be proud of his ravishing. Only Chair takes pity on him, giving him a hand towel to dry his tears—which he promptly names "Towel."
- Do You Want to Copulate?: This awkward exchange between Ma and Pa Bellacourt.Dodo: I've called you in here to remind you that, according to our marital contract, I am to fellate you seven times a year.
Commodore: I told you, the saltpeter mines of the Congo destroyed my sex drive.
- Embarrassing First Name: Celery Savoy. Lampshaded by Ms. Savoy herself.Celery: I got the name Celery because Papa always said I took more energy than I gave.
- Embarrassing Nickname: At Beatrice's urging, new maid Celine is promptly (and arbitrarily) dubbed "Chair" by Dodo. In a later episode, Peepers threatens to rename her "Water Closet" if she doesn't toe the line.
- Emotional Regression: Beatrice starts acting like a little girl after learning that Frederick is engaged to another woman (and can no longer have Brother-Sister Incest with her). Accompanied by her Madness Mantra "I can stay a baby forever…"
- Eye Scream: During the climactic brawl in "Senate," Beatrice stabs one of the suffragettes in the eye with the stem of a broken champagne flute. (Doubles as an In-Joke; see the Trivia page to find out why…)
- Face–Heel Turn: Celery Savoy was only pretending to be Lillian's friend, before dumping her at "Rejects Beach."
- Faked Kidnapping: In "Switcheroo Day," Lillian—jealous that a kidnapped baby is getting all the local headlines—hires Hamish to do this to her. Which leads to Belligerent Sexual Tension between the two. Which then leads to a Roll in the Hay. Which (unfortunately for Hamish) then leads to The Loins Sleep Tonight. (And ultimately leads to Lillian declaring "I had the worst day. Get me a poultice, a dildo, and a soft French cheese!")
- Fun with Acronyms: Hortense's suffragette group is called the Newport Association of Gal Spinsters.
- Gay Best Friend: Albert is this to his wife Beatrice. He's the only one she trusts to do her hair and she often confides in him about her affair with Frederick.
- Gorgeous Period Dress: As befits 1902 high society Newport. Subverted by the Bellacourt daughters, who dress to the nines and still manage to look trashy.
- Hell Is That Noise: Asked to feign grief ("Funeral") or sing ("Pageant"), all Beatrice can muster is a bizarre squawk. (Subverted in "Pageant" when, after some prompting, she proves to have an opera-quality singing voice.)
- Hidden Depths: Beatrice is illiterate and is regarded as the least intelligent member of the household. However, she has a deeper understanding of math then the rest of her family, is a capable opera singer and flautist, and can be just as manipulative as Lillian. Certain episodes hint that Beatrice is simply Obfuscating Stupidity (to a limited extent, since she is still The Ditz) either for Fredrick's sake or simply for her own amusement.
- Historical-Domain Character: Helen Keller, Charlie Chaplin, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charles Ponzi, Mohandas Gandhi, Leon Trotsky, Thomas Edison and Harriet Tubman have popped up so far.
- Hollywood History: in the episode "Senate" the Commodore says that Senator Ambrose Burnside has died and that Frederick will replace him… even though Burnside died in 1881 and the show is set in 1902.
- Hysterical Woman: Blanche, whose last known address was the local insane asylum. The entire household (save Chair) takes great delight in scaring her into a screaming fit.
- Idle Rich: The sisters spend their entire days doing as little as possible, to the point of making their servants carry them from room to room.
- The Immodest Orgasm:
- In "Senate," Sigmund Freud diagnoses the Bellacourt women as suffering from "hysteria," and prescribes that their… lady bits… be stimulated with feathers. By the maids. Played straight with Lillian and Beatrice; subverted by Dodo, who barely reacts.
- Male version: in "Lillian's Birthday," Chair and the Commodore sneak off for a mid-day Roll in the Hay—until Chair stops and demands that the Commodore finishes himself. It goes on for minutes.
- Jerkass Ball: Blanche's ego grows tremendously in "Switcheroo Day", when she impersonates a wealthy woman and new friend of Beatrice's, even forcing Chair to feed her.
- Kick the Dog: Lillian's attempts to curry favor with Celery Savoy include plans to make a fur cape for Celery's dog Dumpling. A dog-fur cape, that is. Cut to the kitchen, where Garfield is trying to get some puppies to stick their heads through tiny hangman's nooses.
- Lie Back and Think of England: Lillian and Beatrice have to have sex with their husbands Victor and Albert every now and then, and dread it. Beatrice even has to be chloroformed to participate. Since their husbands are gay, they hate it as much as their wives.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: As seen in the page image, thirteen actors comprise the main cast. Serving-staff extras and guest stars double, and probably triple, that number.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Hamish. He may be crude, filthy, and a hardcore lecher, but his The Loins Sleep Tonight moment with Lillian, rather than being a Rage Breaking Point, finds him chastened and apologetic. Then there's this bemused exchange as the servants discuss Garfield's "ravishing:"Hamish: Hey, does this mean that I can ravish Blanche?
Blanche: Thank you for the thought, Hamish.
Hamish: [courteously] Milady.
[to Peepers] You can't have your funeral the same day we're having our funeral. Today is the day I'm gonna meet the thick-dicked man of my dreams.
- Lillian qualifies as well, in the Really Gets Around category.
- Minstrel Show: Hamish was performing in one when he first met Celine/Chair.
- For the talent portion of the beauty pageant, Lillian performs "mickface", painting her face white, donning a red wig, and mocking Irish stereotypes.
- Mistaken for Gay: Frederick, while being prepped to become a senator. By Sigmund Freud, no less. Who then catches Frederick and Beatrice in bed together:Dr. Freud: Frederick, look at you. You are cured. The Masculinity training must have done the trick. I officially declare you a non-homosexual.
Beatrice: Oh, Frederick, I'm so proud of you.
Frederick: You're not concerned at all with the fact that I'm having sex with my sister?
Dr. Freud: Seems perfectly natural to me. Carry on.
- Musical Episode: In "Rejects Beach," upon learning that Celery is going to induct her into the Clam Bake Club, Lillian breaks into a song and dance number with the servants.
- My Secret Pregnancy: Chair is pregnant with the Commodore's child.
- In the season finale, Blanche returns from the insane asylum after having been released by Peepers, and pushes Chair down a flight of stairs as revenge for having had her committed to the asylum again. The first season ends with Chair unconscious and the fate of her and the baby inconclusive.
- No Periods, Period: When Lillian claims that her husband hit her and should be arrested, the police officers ask her bluntly and via various euphemisms if she was having her period when she was hit.
- Nouveau Riche: The Bellacourts. They're hillbillies with extravagant wealth, trying to live like kings, with only the faintest idea of how kings actually live.
- Officer O'Hara: The two Irish American police officers who question Lillian when she tries to frame Victor for beating her and then insult are qualify as this trope.
- Oireland: Lilian's "mickface" Minstrel Show in "Pageant"
- Paper-Thin Disguise: When Blanche impulsively tries on one of Beatrice's dresses, Beatrice thinks she's a different person entirely and declares Blanche her new BFF.
- It turns out Beatrice was never fooled to begin with, but just was messing with Blanche for her own amuseument.
- Pixellation: Used in "Funeral," "Doggy Dinner Party," and "Rejects Beach" to suggest that Beatrice… er …forgot to wear her bloomers.
- Politically Correct History: Totally averted. Every nasty flaw of the era, from inaccurate medical treatments to sexist opinions are shown without any sugarcoating. The show doesn't shy from representing racism, though it also has minority characters show up without race coming up sometimes as well, in order to have a diverse cast. LGBT characters also have it much easier than in reality (by season 2, Albert and Victor seem to just live at the estate as a couple without issue.)
- Rape as Backstory: While detoxing from morphine, Dodo looks up at the photos of her children and says they're all products of rape, with Beatrice and Frederick being the "double product of a rape."
- Secret Keeper:
- Chair. Hamish knows her as the former prostitute who swindled him; to the Commodore, she's his mistress and the mother of their illegitimate child-to-be.
- Peepers, unbeknownst to the Bellacourts, was adopted by a family of American Indians.
- In "Senate," Hortense and Chef Chauncey Allistar recreate the blindfold-and-food scene from Nine and a Half Weeks.
- In "Pageant," Lillian's win is spoiled when Hortense dumps a bucket of—not blood, but feces—on her head, a la Carrie.
- In "Rejects Beach," Beatrice snaps out of her Emotional Regression state to realize she's starring in Thomas Edison's stag film "The Wizard of Ahhhhhh's" and escapes, crying "There's no place like my house!"
- Stiff Upper Lip: Celery, upon meeting the Bellacourts for the first time. Dodo mistaking her for a urinal? Beatrice acting like a five-year-old and grinding on Frederick? Lillian's frantic attempts to become her best friend? No biggie…
- Tantrum Throwing: Lillian has a massive Trash the Set/Flipping the Table meltdown in the opening moments of the aptly-named "Lillian's Birthday."
- Those Two Guys: The two Irish American police officers.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Peepers. He was abandoned by his "white alcoholic parents" en route to the California Gold Rush, adopted by an American Indian tribe, but talks like a constipated Inspector Clouseau.
- Where Da White Women At?: At Mark Twain's lawn party, Mahatma Gandhi jokes "I'm just here for the white women."
- In the episode "Senate", Hortense has a sexual fling with (and loses her virginity to) the Commodore's African-American chef friend, who spent the episode beforehand flirting with her.
- Your Cheating Heart: Victor is heartbroken when Albert is hit with a tomahawk and goes into a coma, but soon begins having an affair with the handsome young physician who arrives to treat Albert. The season finale shows Albert waking up from his coma and seeming to already be aware that Victor has been cheating on him- or perhaps just that the Doctor's been sticking his manparts in Albert's mouth while he was comatose.