The recent premiere of season five of “Downton Abbey,” the beloved television drama, has not disappointed the show’s American viewers. Created by Julian Fellows, the show first aired in the UK on September 26, 2010 and on January 9, 2011 in the US.
Even though the show originated in England, it has gained international success. “Downton” won a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.
It has earned the most nominations of any international television series in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, with twenty-seven in total (after two seasons).
Most recently, actress Joanne Froggatt won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film for her portrayal of Anna Smith. All these awards are a testament to how well-written, well acted, and well-directed the series is.
The show follows the trials and tribulations of the Earl of Grantham and his family as well as the lives of their staff who live downstairs in their estate.
Viewers of the show can expect to go back in time; the first episode begins after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The writers throw in topical matters ranging from electricity to the politics of the times.
The sharp contrast between the problems of the elite and those of the servants are what makes the show unique. Their problems vary in drama but rarely seem any less important than the other class.
Carter said, “I find almost all story lines in the series to be intriguing. Carter prefers story lines about the elite’s struggle to deal with social change, stating, “they are less superficial than say changing into evening attire. However, the servants too have very fascinating back stories, for an example in the last episode we got a closer look into Ms. Baxter’s history and I hope that continues.”
Teacher Lori Barnett finds the storylines of each side to be “equally intriguing and underwhelming at times.”
The story often surrounds the daughters of Lord Grantham’s (Hugh Bonneville): stubborn eldest daughter Mary (Michelle Dockery), unlucky middle child Edith (Laura Carmichael), and the strong willed little sister Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay).
On which sister she preferred Carter said, “This might sound cliché but I would say my favorite is Mary. I really like seeing such a strong and assertive woman portrayed in a popular TV series, and I appreciate that it characterizes her as a hero, not the opposite.”
Despite the traditional gender roles of the time, the women of Downton Abbey aren’t background characters in the slightest. The servants also defy stereotypes, often crossing boundaries and giving their bosses advice, or going to them for help. The characters’ divergence from expectations are what make the show stand out.
Despite the controversial deaths of two main characters who were somewhat central to the story’s plot, Downton fans are still loyal to the show, and can’t help but tune in to PBS on Sunday nights to watch what happens to the residents of the Abbey.
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