Back in 2012, in what must have been one of my very first articles for Collider, we reported that NBC had ordered a new drama series, The Gilded Age, from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. This being 2018, things have been percolating on this one for awhile. At that time, Downton had only aired two seasons and the airwaves had not yet been flooded with Gilded Age-set series (that being, roughly, the late Victorian and early Edwardian period — a little before Downton). Back in the naive days of 2012, that particular era was more or less looked over narratively in television. Not so in Peak TV!
Fellowes’ project is neither gone nor forgotten though, it seems, and there is no longer a conflict with Downton, so full-steam ahead (along with Downton EP Graham Naeme). NBC revealed today that the 10-episode series will air in 2019, saying,
The Gilded Age in 1880s New York City was a period of immense social upheaval, of huge fortunes made and lost, and of palaces that spanned the length of Fifth Avenue. In the series, Marian Brook is the wide-eyed young scion of a conservative family who will embark on infiltrating the wealthy neighboring family dominated by ruthless railroad tycoon George Russell, his rakish and available son Larry, and his ambitious wife Bertha, whose “new money” is a barrier to acceptance by the Astor and Vanderbilt set. Marian is about to experience a whole new world springing up right outside her front door.
I mean yes please, this all sounds exactly like my kind of show. I would still prefer an English setting but I’ll accept it being Stateside (and there’s no word on casting yet, so stay tuned for those reveals). Fellowes said of the project:
“To write ‘The Gilded Age’ is the fulfillment of a personal dream. I have been fascinated by this period of American history for many years and now NBC has given me the chance to bring it to a modern audience. I could not be more excited and thrilled. The truth is, America is a wonderful country with a rich and varied history, and nothing could give me more pleasure than be the person to bring that compelling history to the screen.”
Presumably there won’t be as much upstairs / downstairs drama as a show like Downton or Fellowes’ screenplay for Gosford Park, but I do trust Fellowes to create some swirling drama regardless. As long as he stays away from war and icebergs, that is …