The Gilded Age is a historical drama television series created by Julian Fellowes for HBO that is set in the United States during the Gilded Age, the boom years of the 1880s in New York City.
Because I have a passion for period pieces, I couldn’t wait to watch this series. I thought Downton Abby was snobbish, The Gilded Age is even worse but the series is excellent, and I love it!
Beginning in 1882, the old money van Rhijn-Brook family and the new money Russell family are living across the street from one another in the city of New York. Their niece, who is a Brook is a naïve young woman who is about to enter the rigid social scene and learn about life’s harsh realities. The series follows characters in the upper class and the servant class.
The Gilded Age opens with NYC Industrialist, George Russell (Morgan Spector), his wife Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon), son Larry Russell (Harry Richardson), and daughter Gladys Russell (Taissa Farmiga) moving into their elaborate new Stanford White-designed mansion on 61st Street and 5th Avenue.
Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) a young ambitious African-American writer returning home after finishing her education at the Institute for Colored Youth encounters Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) at the train station. Someone steals Marian’s purse containing her train ticket and the $30 her deceased father left her, leaving her penniless. Peggy takes pity on her and buys her another ticket but in the Colored section where they talk and both end up at the home of Marian’s aunts, Agnas Van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon). Peggy is offered a job as Agnas’ secretary and a place to stay despite having middle-class parents living in Brooklyn, with a maid and a family business.
High Society: New and old money do not mix, new money, old rules. Old money has the upper hand and new money must bend over backwards to enter into the snobbish society, mostly to no avail. The Russell’s apparently have more money than any family of old money but it doesn’t help them achieve their goal of opening any society doors. This series is about how The Russell’s were able to penetrate this tight knit society which covers a new railroad, Union Station, the establishment of the Red Cross, and the most snobbish of the snobbish society that rather die than let in new money. The servants are a whole other story. The Gilded Age delves into the lives of the servants in each house whole. No one is exempt down to the chefs. There is lots of gossip and firing and hiring of the staff as they get caught-up due to a shady past or shady present deeds. One ambitious maid was determine to have a better life by demanding that her boss sleep with her. When he turned her down, she went after him for revenge. She was caught for something else and let go. The series is intense, exciting, suspenseful and entertaining. At review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds a “Certified Fresh” 78% approval rating based on 65 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The site’s critical consensus reads: “Julian Fellowes’ brand of upstairs, downstairs intrigue makes a seamless transatlantic transition in The Gilded Age, with an outstanding cast making the travails of the rich a compelling watch”.The Gilded Age is streaming on HBO MAX and airs new episodes on Mondays — Check It Out!