Gilded Age: “Downton Abbey” in America, starts strong with enjoyable acting and aesthetics

Downton Abbey in America. Lazy thinking but promising if put to practice properly.

Those were my thoughts when I first heard about “The Gilded Age” which premiered on HBO this week.

And promising is what I would use to describe the Julian Fellowes story.

The show begins in New York during the 1880s with the story of several different characters, each in different places of the social structure trying to navigate their ways into the future.

It entertains because everyone can act and it looks absolutely terrific.

You already know about Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon, who are both playing the wealthy last surviving relatives of their young niece who is coming to New York for a new start.

But it’s good to see Carrie Coon (Fargo, The Leftovers) get a meaty role that after the first episode appears to have the most room for growth.

All three of them, especially Nixon, were great during the premiere.

If you haven’t already, you’ll hear about the costumes, sets, and portrait-esque shots on the show. Downton Abbey centered most of the action on the estate, but this show seems prone to use all of New York to tell their story which could be very good television.

All of this is important because it’s part of the “Downton Abbey” formula.

And I know some maybe guff and gaw at the comparisons but this is where we’re at after the first episode.

That’s not a bad thing. And writers may choose to go in a different direction as the show continues.

If there is a negative point to be taken, its the same flaw that Downton Abbey had. The stakes aren’t really that high. For HBO fans new to the material it’s “Entourage” syndrome.

But the main takeaway is that “The Gilded Age” is off to a terrific start and I’m already looking forward to the next show.

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