Dreaming of an American 'Downton Abbey’? Get Ready for ‘The Gilded Age’!

Downton AbbeyDownton Abbey fans, I have some news that will either make you jump for joy or wince in pain: America will be getting a television period piece of its own, thanks to a deal between Downton Abbey's creator Julian Fellowes and NBC.

Fellowes, who is the Oscar- and Emmy-winning creator/executive producer behind our favorite post-Edwardian costume drama, will be writing and producing The Gilded Age for NBC. This show is described as an “epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made — and spent — in late 19th-century New York."

So, what do you think? Are you intrigued? Or you as horrified as this American Guardian writer, who says,

BIG mistake. Don't do it, Julian. Stay home. Stick to what you can do. Write about what you know.


The Gilded Age is intended to be another sweeping epic in the style of Downtown Abbey, focused on 1880s New York and the widespread economic growth that produced lavish-lifestyle millionaires. According to Fellowes,

This was a vivid time with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls, of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king.

In the hands of another creator, I wouldn't be feeling terribly excited about this -- but Fellowes has definitely shown that he can tackle period pieces featuring wealthy characters and make it something we're all obsessed with. I mean, even my husband loves Downton Abbey, and his idea of good television is Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures.

Not everyone thinks The Gilded Age sounds like a golden opportunity for Fellowes, though. Emma Keller from The Guardian thinks Fellowes' weakness is in American characters, dialogue, and storylines -- and adds,

Julian, we love you when you do Brit posh. Especially in those moments when we can call you out on the details. But there's no way you can get it right over here. You don't have the ear and you don't have the eye. And I can promise you one thing before you even start work: you won't have the viewers.

Harsh! It remains to be seen if The Gilded Age will be a success, but it seems that NBC is betting on Fellowes. Personally, I can't wait to see what they come up with. I'll take something like this over yet another lukewarm sitcom any day.

What do you think of this upcoming show? Do you think he's got a shot at creating a U.S. hit?

Image via PBS

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