It took me a while to realize this, but people don't listen to advice. I'm not sure why. My sense is that we tend to learn life lessons through experience, and the warnings of others, even those that we solicit, have trouble penetrating through to the part of brain where "fire is hot" and "there is no such thing as a 'break' in a relationship" were imprinted whenever you passed by those particular painful milestones. Case in point: I'm going to give you a bit of advice—not "don't touch the fire"-important advice, but advice that will make your life better—and you're not going to listen to it. You're going to think you know better. You're going to want, explicitly or subconsciously, to learn this lesson yourself, and learn it you will, though by then it will be too late.
Here is my spoiler-free advice: do not watch season two of Downton Abbey.
I know you're not going to take my advice because I wouldn't have taken my advice. You loved the first season of Downton Abbey, didn't you? You stayed up till three to finish it on Netflix. So much repressed passion; so many pretty people in beautiful clothes; so many Dowager Countess zings: you have been waiting for the new season for months, maybe. You are psyched. You read Richard Lawson's warning at The Atlantic Wire. You are ready.
And the thing is, you'll watch the first episode on Sunday and you'll probably like it. That's the problem: you won't realize that season two sucks until you're about halfway through: until it's too late to bail.
I don't want to spoil the plot for you, because I know you will watch it anyway, but sometime at the end of the seventh episode (sixth, if you're quick), you'll turn to your boyfriend or girlfriend or roommate or text-to-speech software and you'll say something like "Jesus, will [SPOILER SUBPLOT] end already?" Or "oh my god, [SPOILER CHARACTER] is acting so unbelievably annoying." Or, maybe you won't even turn. Maybe you'll just look at the TV and shout, generally, at all the characters really, "just get over it, all of you."
And that's it. That's the moment where you realize you've watched over half the season, and it sucks, and it won't turn around. And you'll watch the rest—why not? You're more than halfway home—but you'll be actually mad at the television the entire time. Downton, like any good soap opera, has always walked the tightrope between enchanting and infuriating. But in season two there's no tightrope, and there's especially no enchantment: there's just fury. Nothing anyone does makes sense. Subplots that should have ended ages ago drag on. New characters appear out of nowhere to do bizarre things. Months pass and apparently no one has conversations with one another. I don't want to spoil anything for you, so just trust me: you will want to physically strangle, with your own hands, every single character on the show by the end of season two.
You will watch every nonsensical second. I know you will because I did, too. If your friends told you to break up with your boyfriend, you wouldn't. Even though they know better than you do, you'd have to see for yourself. So you'd stay with him as things got worse, and until you realized your friends were right, and then you'd still stay with him for another few weeks, just in case things turned around, because that's just the way people work: they like to learn the hard way. They need to learn the hard way.
Downton Abbey is your TV boyfriend, and you are about to enter the bad stage of your relationship. Downton Abbey is going to spend days ignoring and then do something really sweet, and is going to call you at weird times, usually drunk, and is generally going to make you frustrated and confused and sad. And you will go through all of it, because you won't take my advice. Because you think you know. Because you haven't had "don't want Downton Abbey season two" imprinted on the lessons gland of your brain the way you have "always take a breath in and a breath out."
But, on the off-chance someone out there will listen to me, let me tell you what you should do. Go spoil season two for yourself online. Take five minutes and read about everything important that happens—and trust me, only about five minutes' worth of important stuff happens—and then wait for the two-hour Christmas special. Because the Christmas special is fucking awesome.