Debuting this week on HBO, “The Gilded Age” is a new series from celebrated writer Julian Fellowes. Known for creating the smash hit series “Downton Abbey,” he has a signature perspective, looking at class, culture, money and power through an “upstairs downstairs” lens.
In “The Gilded Age,” Fellowes hops across the pond from England, turning his pen toward the burgeoning metropolis of New York City in 1882, which offers the chance to examine a society with an entirely different class structure. In “The Gilded Age,” there’s a divide between new money and old money, with the added layer of race, which makes for a rich text to examine the values upon which America is built.
The 10-episode series will stream weekly on HBO and HBO Max, but if you’re craving more Fellowes content, there’s lots to consume, including the “Downton Abbey” series, which is currently streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Peacock. The 2019 “Downton Abbey” movie is also streaming on Peacock, a perfect primer for the sequel film, which will hit theaters this year.
Fellowes has also written several films and other TV series, but if you’re looking for more in the same vein as “Downton Abbey” and “The Gilded Age,” check out the 2001 film “Gosford Park,” directed by Robert Altman and starring a who’s who of British film icons — including Dame Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles Dance, Stephen Fry and Kelly Macdonald, as well as Ryan Phillippe and Bob Balaban — in this 1930s story of a posh hunting weekend during which a murder takes place. Rent it for $3.99 on all streaming platforms.
Fellowes also scripted the Jean-Marc Vallée-directed biopic “The Young Victoria” (2009), in which Emily Blunt stars as the legendary English queen during the first years of her reign. It also depicts her romance with Prince Albert, played by Rupert Friend. Rent it for $2.99 on all platforms.
One of the appeals of “The Gilded Age” is its coterie of stars playing the various American aristocrats and social climbers in New York City society, including many legendary actresses of both stage and screen. Christine Baranski stars as the staunchly old-money Agnes Van Rhijn, while Cynthia Nixon plays her softer sister Ada. Catch Baranski in all seasons of the legal drama “The Good Fight” on Paramount+, while Nixon can be found currently in the “Sex and the City” reboot “And Just Like That,” reprising her character, Miranda Hobbes. Both series are streaming on HBO Max.
In the role of social climber Bertha Russell is Carrie Coon. Check out one of her best performances in the 2020 film “The Nest,” streaming on Showtime or available for rent elsewhere, as a woman whose marriage struggles when her family moves from the United States to England.