Old and New Money Collide in ‘The Gilded Age’ From ‘Downton Abbey’ Creator Julian Fellowes

The Gilded Age HBO Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

Imagine a time in American history when rich white people discriminated against other rich white people for being the wrong kind of rich white people.

From Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes comes HBO’s The Gilded Age (Mondays at 9pm ET/PT beginning Jan. 24), a period drama set in 1882 New York City, where new technological advances, new ideas and new money are challenging the established social order.

Young Pennsylvania woman Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) is left penniless following her father’s death, and she seeks help from the only family she has: crusty upper-crust aunts Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon) in New York. Marian moves in with her aunts and finds herself thrust into the social sphere of old money and its nearly impenetrable caste system.

Marian befriends Peggy Scott (Denée Benton), a talented Black writer from Brooklyn, who is hired by Aunt Agnes to help her catch up on her correspondences. Peggy’s presence complicates the social strata within the house, fueling resentment among some who do not want her there.

Across the street from Marian’s aunts’ manor, George (Morgan Spector) and Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon), who’ve made a fortune in the railroads, have built a lavish mansion. Bertha is desperate to be accepted by the old guard, but they humiliatingly spurn her. As architect Stanford White (John Sanders) explains, “They have been in charge since the Mayflower landed and now it’s your turn. Because you are the future. And if you are the future, then they must be the past. That’s what frightens them.” Unable to join them, Bertha makes it her mission to destroy them.

And in true Fellowes fashion, The Gilded Age is teeming with intrigue for the housekeepers and servants to murmur about.

About Ryan Berenz 2120 Articles
Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife