Okay, this storyline is annoying me. Does anyone know which year this is supposed to be? Because Benny Goodman is the man who created INTERRACIAL bands -- and it's an important point in musical history. (You know, I'm a huge 40's music fan.) In other words, a black man would not front a white orchestra without it being a big deal.
But then, you have the upstairs/downstairs thing going on. A lady would not mingle with the "help" -- and in England, actresses/musicians were on the low end of the social ladder. So we're supposed to believe that Rose would not only invite a band that couldn't have existed into the upstairs of the house, everyone is going to be fine with it, and she can kiss a band leader. (Forget his color.)
I know they wanted to bring some multiculturalism into the storyline, but it would have been more realistic in England, after WWI, to bring in an Indian man. But the most offensive thing in the entire storyline has nothing to do with race relations. It has to do with the fact that Rose could not be more cardboard, with her only apparent character trait being picking inappropriate men for her station in life. Snore.
If you're going to rewrite history, at least make it believable. What would make someone like Rose fall in love with a black man in that era? Come on, Downton writers: He saves her life. She's never seen anyone with more beautiful facial structure and she's fascinated. Music moves her in ways that leads her to fall in love with a singer's tenor. He gets a warm moment with her in private and we see their spark, their connection.
There are a MILLION reasons this storyline could work. I don't think Downton has found it yet. And really, if they're going to have a black character, the least they could do is give him someone worthy of falling in love with. Rose isn't it.
The reason it doesn't work, is it wasn't true of the time. We know it's okay for black people and white people to fall in love. This is 2014. Do we really need them to rewrite history to preach at us? Like oh, they had it all figured out in the 30's. We didn't need the Civil Rights Movement after all. I'm just a history buff, and I think it's doing a disservice to what blacks endured during these times. It's important to remember history so that we don't repeat it. It is not important to rewrite history.