I'm pretty sure that if you've seen Downton Abbey, you are with me on this one. I honestly haven't met anyone who has watched this series who didn't absolutely love it. In fact, I know of more than one person who stayed up all night once they got started, watching the episodes back to back on Netflix Instant. (And if you haven't seen it yet, that's your homework assignment for tonight, you'll thank me tomorrow, even if your boss won't!) It just won a slew of Emmys and, joy of joys, as of this week, it is BACK…
Season One busted out exactly a year ago, in September 2010, airing on ITV in England. It consisted of just 7 episodes and in the year since, over 100 countries have acquired the rights to broadcast it. (Yup, widespread appeal) This past Sunday night (September 18, 2011) marked the start of Season 2 in England, with plans for it to begin airing in the US in January, 2012.
As those of you who have watched the first season know, it's an addictive story set in the years leading up to (and now, during) WWI. With a mix of real world historic events and (shocking!) fictional domestic events, it follows the lives of the residents of a large English country home. And while the somewhat soapy (lovers, cheaters, villiany, lust!) plotlines are undoubtedly compelling, the thing that seems to really capture the imagination of the viewers I know are the details of domestic life and social mores of the time which are wittily interwoven through the story.
Since this is a story of the family who lives at Downton Abbey as well as that of the servants that work there, ala "Upstairs Downstairs", we get a fairly robust history of domesticity circa 1916, while chuckling at the pure ballsyness of the Dowager Countess and being shocked at the latest machinations of Lady Grantham's maid.
And, I haven't even mentioned the sets and costumes, the amazing interiors and gardens. For any lover of design, there is eye candy for days. The real life Downton Abbey is Highclere Castle in Berkshire, used for both the interiors and exteriors. The exception is the servant's living areas, which were constructed off site at a film studio.
According to the Downton Abbey wiki it is now the most successful British period drama since Brideshead Revisited, as well as the top selling DVD box set of all time in England.
So, what can we all do while we wait for Season 2 to get here? Well, we can rewatch Season 1, naturally (it's on Netfix and iTunes, so no excuses). We can read the behind the scenes book which just came out or we can check out the new version of Upstairs Downstairs. What we DON'T want to do is hear any spoilers about Season 2 - the fun is in watching it all play out.
What do you think? Shall we start up an Apartment Therapy + Downton Abbey watching club when January rolls around?
Images: Downton Abbey/ITV