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When Downton Abbey first took the small screen, it was set in the early 1900s, 1912 to be exact during the Edwardian era when news of the Titanic first sinks in (sorry had to). Since then the show has covered a number of historical events through World War I dealing with family deaths, scandals and even financial ruin. But, as the show nears its end, creator Julian Fellowes shares one historical territory the show will not explore, specifically, the rumblings of Nazis and the start of WWII.
Fellowes feels that there has already been plenty of cinematic and dramatic coverage of the 1930s and the time leading up to WWII, so why try to recreate it. He explains to The Wrap:
I feel the ’30s have been very much explored dramatically, and I didn’t really want to get into the whole business of the Nazis, which I think has been explored exhaustively. And I don’t know that there is anything else to be said about the Nazis.
He’s not wrong, the ‘whole business of the Nazis’ has been explored extensively, and if we’re being realistic there’s already more than enough drama on the PBS Masterpiece that adding on the chaos surrounding Hitler may just be too far. But for Fellowes it goes beyond even the historical material itself. His biggest issue covering it is that there is no argument, his characters will either be right or wrong, without much discussion.
The difficulty of dramatizing the Nazis, to me, is that I like ambivalent dramas, where you don’t know whose side you’re on, or maybe you change sides. You might initially think, Oh no, [Maggie Smith’s character] Violet is completely wrong in this, but as the argument goes on and as you hear more of her point of view, you understand where she’s coming from. That’s what I like. But the Nazis don’t give you that. Nobody’s slightly on the side of the Nazis. It’s so absolute—there’s just bad guys and good guys. And there have been wonderful films about them, but I don’t think I’m the right guy to write them.
It’s refreshing to know that the creator of the show knows where his strengths and weaknesses lie, especially considering Downton Abbey’s rating were down a bit when Season 5 aired, and a big event like the beginning of WWII coverage could certainly draw in more viewers. But, the final season of the hit period drama will take place in 1925, long before rumblings begin, and considering there have been some major deaths in the family, and a few replacements in the downstairs characters, it does seem to feel as if the show is readily nearing its end. And for all those fans out there hoping that Fellowes and crew will change their mind, and continue the series, the creator doesn’t sound like he is going to budge on this one.
Downton Abbey Season 6 is expected to air in late 2015.