Archive for May 4th, 2018

by Adam Ferenz

Note : I am aware that British programs use the term series instead of season to describe a run of episodes. I am using the US term, season, to describe a British series, and will use series in reference to Downton Abbey as a program.

Essentially a soap opera, this was also a family drama, so well acted, and luxuriously produced, that it is easy to overlook the flaws, such as too much fraternization between classes, and too many clichés, such as the loyal servants and serfs. Anachronisms aside, this is splendid entertainment headlined by an unbelievable cast. Set in Yorkshire, England and observing the Crawley family from the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, through the First World War and deep into the 1920s, this is a series about what happened after the Gilded Age ended.

Over the course of six seasons, we watch the Crawley family save its financial fortunes-at least three times-and suffer the loss of loved ones-as well as having to adapt to a world that no longer needs them, and in which they are suddenly less than the masters they once were. Some change more than others, thriving, while some remain steadfastly grounded in the faded past. This is a series that knows it is covering an important period for certain classes.

In many ways, when the Titanic sank, the Gilded Age ended. To be sure, there was opulence left in the world, but many of the people and claims that came to define that period, ended when the great ship hit an iceberg and sank beneath the icy waters of the north Atlantic. The advent of The Great War further changed how people viewed themselves, and the struggles to maintain estates and styles of behavior or standards of living, in a new, more austere society-and one which was demanding more equality for women and minorities-forms the social backdrop for the series. (more…)

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