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Could Downton Abbey And The Gilded Age Cross Over? Julian Fellowes Responds

Dame Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey: A New Era and Christine Baranski in The Gilded Age, pictured side by side.
(Image credit: Focus Features/HBO)

With audiences set to take their first trip to The Gilded Age, the comparisons between what some are calling “the American Downton Abbey” and the real Downton are only going to continue to grow. But could these worlds of American society and English aristocracy ever meet together in a crossover event? The creator of both series, Julian Fellowes, has responded with a cryptic, but hopeful answer. 

Julian Fellowes recently spoke with Deadline about his latest series, which is about to debut on HBO and its streaming home, HBO Max. While The Gilded Age may take place some years before Downton Abbey introduced us to the Crawley family, there are some angles that a potential meetup could use to become a reality. For the moment, Mr. Fellowes is leaving the subject in a pretty open place, as his official line on a crossover is as follows: 

I’ve learned this much, never say never. I’ll stick with that as my answer.

Officially, no news is good news. As The Gilded Age looks to explore New York City’s high society in 1882, there’s absolutely no way you’ll see characters like Elizabeth McGovern’s Cora Levinson Crawley in a way with which you are familiar. With Downton Abbey starting in 1912, there's a 30-year gap between these two shows. Though that doesn’t mean there’s no way for familiar faces to pop up with new appearances; and looking at the series’ trailer, the Crawleys would definitely fit into those surroundings.  

In fact, Cora’s lineage is probably the best link that the two series could hope to share; at least for the time being. That is, unless the plan is to drop an unknown adventure for Dame Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess into The Gilded Age’s storyline somewhere. Let’s not forget, the first Downton Abbey: A New Era trailer has proven that she’s capable of hiding her personal history until it’s convenient to reveal such details. Even then, we more than likely will be seeing younger, and potentially recast, versions of those characters on our screens, should this scenario even come to pass. 

At the moment, the world can rejoice that one of the many shows on HBO Max is about to broaden Julian Fellowes’ fictional imprint into another chapter of historical drama and frivolity. The future could hold some surprises that bring the worlds of Downton Abbey and The Gilded Age closer together, deepening the connection between the two. Whether or not that happens is something we’ll just have to wait and see about, while also puzzling out the different connections that might be the most plausible scenario. Just as he has a formula for killing off Downton characters, Fellowes probably has some preliminary notes on all of the moving parts that would need to fall into place.

You might want to pay close attention to the events of The Gilded Age, as they’re about to unfold on HBO on Mondays at 9 PM ET, with the HBO Max drop happening soon after. Don’t forget to check out the 2022 TV schedule, which has all of the winter and spring debut dates you could hope for. And if you’re looking to get some Downton Abbey into your diet, you can dig into all six seasons and the motion picture through a subscription to Peacock Premium.

Mike Reyes
Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.