I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I tuned into Downton Abbey on PBS. This British series actually held my attention. It was a combination of the good acting, intrigue and fantastic costumes.
The show is about the interplay between the aristocracy and their servants. The family is the Crawley Family. According to Wikipedia , “ The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the Edwardian and post-Edwardian era — with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.
In the opening episode of Season 2, they were all really worried that their huge old mansion would have to be sold because Lord Grantham, owner of the estate, made a bad investment in a railroad. The time is now 1920.
Despite the fact that Lord Grantham is about to lose everything, he throws a huge audacious wedding for his daughter and fiance. She drove to the church in a horse-driven carriage. To make matters worse, her soon-to-be husband has suddenly inherited a pile of money that he refuses to use to salvage her family’s mansion.
Maggie Smith, a seasoned British actress, plays the main English grandmamma Violet Crawley. On this episode, she clashed with the American grandmamma, Martha Levinson, played by Shirley MacLaine. They couldn’t find better actresses to play these parts. Smith was properly snobby, and MacLaine played an inappropriate loud American who says what’s on her mind. Maclaine is finally showing her age despite her obvious plastic surgery. Smith has let herself age. I think she looks more real.( They’re both the same age in real life, 78.)
The servants live downstairs, and help the aristocracy dress and feed themselves. (They put the food on their plates). The higher class has to get dressed for dinner, and the servants also have to wear proper servant’s attire. There is all kinds of drama going on between the servants. In this episode one of daughters brought home her Irish husband who used to be the chauffeur.
The acting was so good that I will catch up on it next week on Sunday night on PBS at 9:00.
According to Reuters, I’m not the only one who tuned in because it scored a record 7.9 million viewers for public broadcasting. This quadrupled the average ratings for a premiere episode. The show is also nominated for some Golden Globe awards.
It just goes to show you, that Americans love gossip about the English, even if it’s make-believe. Besides, we all like to see filthy rich people squirm. (Unless your filthy rich too).
Did you watch the opening show of this season? What did you think? Did you stay tuned the whole time? Why do you think this show is so popular with American audiences?
- Downton Abbey season three premiere watched by 7.9 million viewers on PBS (guardian.co.uk)
- Downton Abbey Beauty: No Mascara, Please, We’re Edwardians (bellasugar.com)