Downton Abbey's resident underbutler, Thomas Barrow, will undergo a bogus gay cure to rid himself of his homosexuality in season 5 of the popular British television show.
Barrow--played by the incomparable Rob James-Collier--will take some secret and apparently painful medications that are meant to free him from his same-sex desires. The only problem is, his treatment--much like the "gay cures" of today--is complete bullshit.
Julian Fellowes, the creator of the critically acclaimed period drama, spoke about Barrow's struggle with his sexuality in an interview (alas, the video cannot be seen in the U.S. yet).
"He falls for the quackery that this can be cured, that he can get rid of this dumbbell he is dragging around with him," Fellowes explained. "His fortitude takes him through a period of incredible physical discomfort... The result he seeks is impossible -- it's not to be obtained by any medical treatment; it was just quackery."
Collier added: "[Thomas] wants to be able to love, so he embarks on quite a dark and serious journey rooted in his sexuality to try and change how he is... I really wanted to get down to why Thomas was how he is. For me, I made the choice it was his sexuality. You wake up every morning and your religion is telling you you're condemned. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of men like Thomas did do this, because what was the alternative? There wasn't one."
The new season of Downton Abbey is currently airing in the U.K. It will premiere on PBS on Jan. 4, 2015, in the U.S.