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Downton Abbey was such a hit with critics and viewers alike that it really put primetime period dramas on the map in a brand new way. Creator/writer Julian Fellowes crafted something truly remarkable with Downton Abbey, and he's now taking his magic touch to NBC for another period drama, called The Gilded Age. This particular project has been in the works for years, and we finally have good news on the Gilded front. The show has received a series order from NBC.
The Gilded Age received an order for ten episodes right off the bat. Julian Fellowes is on board as writer and executive producer. He'll share executive producer duties with another Downton Abbey alum: Gareth Neame. No exact dates are available, but The Gilded Age will debut in 2019.
On the one hand, waiting until 2019 for a glimpse at The Gilded Age sounds kind of rough. On the other hand, given how long The Gilded Age has been in the works, we should count ourselves lucky that NBC is planning on premiering the show next year. News of Julian Fellowes working on The Gilded Age broke way back in November 2012, at which point Downton Abbey was still on the air. Now, Downton has already been off the air for a few years.
Not a whole lot of progress seemed to happen on The Gilded Age for quite a while, although Julian Fellowes did tease back in 2015 that The Gilded Age and Downton Abbey could be set in the same universe, therefore opening the door for certain Downton characters to turn up. The announcement that The Gilded Age is finally happening for 2019 didn't say anything about a shared universe, so we can't say at this point if there's any real chance of the fabulous Violet Crowley turning up.
Given the time frame for The Gilded Age, there are only so many Downton Abbey characters who could conceivably turn up without time travel coming into play. The series will bet set in the 1880s in New York City and follow young Marian Brook, who hails from a conservative family and kicks off a quest to infiltrate a wealthy neighboring family. The family will be headed up by the domineering railroad tycoon George Russell, his ambitious wife Bertha, and his dashing son Larry. Unfortunately for Bertha, she comes from "new money," which does not open many doors in the Astor and Vanderbilt social circles. Marian will enter a whole new world without even needing to venture far from her home.
The bare-bones description of The Gilded Age has some similarities to the status quo of Downton Abbey when that series first kicked off. Matthew Crawley entered a world of wealth and high society, Cora brought her fortune from across the pond rather than from an old British family, and there were plenty of dashing characters to go around. It should be interesting to see how different and how similar The Gilded Age will be to Downton Abbey when the new series premieres next year.
If you're in the market for shows to watch while we wait, be sure to take a look at our midseason TV premiere guide. If you're now in the mood to relive the highs and lows of Downton Abbey, you can find the full series streaming on Amazon Prime. Who knows? Maybe the Downton Abbey movie will actually happen sooner rather than later.