WHAT IS THE GILDED AGE
In the United States, the Gilded Age is an era that occurred during the late 19th century. It was an era of rapid economic growth, especially in the Northern and Western United States. Railroads were a major growth industry. Immigration from Europe and the eastern states led to the rapid growth of the west. This Era also acts as our backdrop for the latest foray into rich folks’ drama.
From creator Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) comes The Gilded Age, a 9-episode drama series that shows the clash between the old money and new. The series begins in 1882 and we meet Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson). After the death of her father, she is moving from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to live with her estranged aunts, Agnes (Christina Baranski) and Ada (Cynthia Nixon). These women belong to the old money and old ways, and not only control Marian, but the town.
We also meet Peggy Scott (Denée Benton), a young black woman who is an aspiring writer and befriends Marian. Peggy has secrets of her own that are still not fully revealed halfway through the season. We also meet the ruthless railroad tycoon and his fantastic wife, George and Bertha Russell (Morgan Spector & Carrie Coon).
THE FANTASTIC STORYLINE AND CAST
As a huge fan of Downton Abbey, I have very high expectations but wasn’t sure if the new series would follow the pattern laid out for it or forge its own path. I had a chance to watch the first 5 episodes of The Gilded Age and she did not let me down. The players, the storylines are iconic and we’ve only just begun.
The series has sweeping camera work, along with a glorious and epic score we’ve come to expect from Fellowes. The cast of this series is insane! Not only do we have heavy hitters Christina Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Debra Monk, Nathan Lane, and Bill Irwin, but it is also a Broadway Fans DREAM! So far I’ve caught Audra McDonald, Patrick Page, Donna Murphy, Michael Cerveris, Kelli O’Hara, and Douglis Sills!
The storylines already going ahead in The Gilded Age will be talked about for years. At this moment, my favorite players are George and Bertha Russel. Get you a man that loves you as much as George loves Bertha that he is willing to steep to the pettiest of petty levels in order to make you happy. I cannot wait to see what happens next with them.
I’m also a huge fan of Peggy’s. She is passionate and follows her dreams even when the world is against her. She doesn’t give in to society’s “standards” when an easy opportunity is presented. Instead, she pushes on and is rewarded for her efforts. I’m curious about her family dynamic and the issues going on there. I hope with 4 episodes left more will be revealed.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Honestly, my only issue with The Gilded Age is Marian. She is the lead of our show. She’s supposed to be the bridge between the old (her aunts) and the new (the Russells) and she’s so stale and boring. It’s not the actress’s fault, Jacobson is doing a lovely job with what she’s given. However, when compared to Mary, Edith, and Sybil she’s incredibly dull. They’ve given her a love interest who she doesn’t even seem to like. So, why should I? The only good thing going for her is she doesn’t care about the snooty upper-class society rules given to her by her aunts. I would love to see more growth within Marian by the end of the season. Otherwise, I honestly do not understand why she’s there.