Sophie Heawood: Are you Homeland or Downton?

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The Independent Online

A rift runs through our nation. A divide separates the ancien regime from the new world order; those who yearn for the past from those who get off on their fear of the future. It's 9pm on Sunday, the dinner is eaten, the telly's on, and you've got to choose. You're either a Downton person, primed for ITV, or a Homeland one, glued to C4. Chamberpots or despots, corsets or al'Qa'ida, PLU or CIA. Domestic security or domestic staff. Which is it to be?

Unless, of course, you're one of the deranged lunatics who is trying to watch both – and this is what's really causing all the bother. One of those people who likes telly, and so joins others on Twitter who like talking about telly, and then goes aaargh don't talk about the telly until I have finished watching the telly, all of the telly? "TSK NO SPOILERS," they shout, barging into other people's online conversations about whether Saul in Homeland is turning out to be a baddy.

There are people now trying to instigate a Twitter moratorium whereby you can't talk about either Downton or Homeland until two days afterwards, so everybody has had a chance to catch up. I wish them good luck with this ban. It seems so workable! No but really, the actual solution is for people to pledge their allegiance here. Nail their colours to the mast. Decide to only like one kind of drama. I remain firm on this point – you're either Downton, or Homeland, not both.

The two shows both deal with men coming back from a war, but in Downton it's English chaps after WWI, whereas Homeland has US marines home from Iraq. Would you rather your soldier returned unexpectedly Muslim, or unexpectedly gay? Do you prefer characters to die in childbirth, or at the hands of a rogue sniper? Are you sucked in by layer upon layer of plot twist and double-cross, or would you rather watch the class system unravelling all around a footman and a scullery and someone called Lady Sybil?

Of course, you could be the rogue viewer who is filling that Sunday slot with Andrew Marr's History of the World on BBC1, but then we know the ending to that one already.

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