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The Hollywood Insider The Gilded Age Review

Photo: ‘The Gilded Age’

Julian Fellowes returns with a trailer of his latest project that features the ritz and glamor of the illustrious elite during America’s Gilded Age. Fellowes’ newest venture, aptly named ‘The Gilded Age,’ takes place in 1880s New York City and centers on the tantalizing lives of Manhattan society. Yes, these ladies may be far from our beloved ‘Real Housewives of New York,’ but Fellowes’ resumé proves that he shares the same appreciation and craving for drama as our very own Andy Cohen.

The Gilded Age’ is a nostalgic tale of riches at the intersection of social wars, politics, and cultural norms waiting to be disrupted. Maybe we’ll come across one of Sonja Morgan’s ancestral in-laws; Does J.P. Morgan ring a bell? Of course, the show has major shoes to fill as fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ are expecting the same standard of drama and intriguing characters.

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A Little Mix of ‘Bridgerton’ and ‘Downton Abbey’

The Gilded Age’ takes place during the post-Civil War era, a period bracing for immense change at the cusp of industrialization with the dawn of a new world rising. The realities of the past must confront modernization and all of it will be told through the eyes of Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson), the show’s young protagonist thrust from rural Pennsylvania into the literal gilded cages of Manhattan society. The series embarks to capture the age-old nuances of ambition and privilege among the upper echelons of society. With the major success of period dramas like ‘Bridgerton,’ ‘The Crown,’ and of course, ‘Downton Abbey,’ ‘The Gilded Age’ has all the essential ingredients to become an addictive series with the HBO seal of approval.  

According to the official HBO page, ‘The Gilded Age’ is “a brief history” of American industrialism and the societal events that unfold thereafter. From what we know, the historic drama will take place in the late-19th century on the iconic streets of New York with notable families flaunting their impressive fortunes and an enduring war between “New Money” and the “Old Money.” It will be an interesting look at how wealth and status dictate the destinies of those caught in their crossfires. 

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Everything We Know

The network’s synopsis: “The American Gilded Age was a period of immense economic change, of great conflict between the old ways and brand new systems, and of huge fortunes made and lost. Against the backdrop of this transformation, HBO’s The Gilded Age begins in 1882 with young Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) moving from rural Pennsylvania to New York City after the death of her father to live with her thoroughly old money aunts Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon).”

“Accompanied by Peggy Scott (Denée Benton), an aspiring writer seeking a fresh start, Marian inadvertently becomes enmeshed in a social war between one of her aunts, a scion of the old money set, and her stupendously rich neighbors, a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife, George (Morgan Spector) and Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon). Exposed to a world on the brink of the modern age, will Marian follow the established rules of society, or forge her own path?”

“Of course, all the glitters isn’t gold. The trailer oozes nostalgic charm while emphasizing the roadblocks to success set by elitism and entitlement. Among the classes are invisible barriers that many were beginning to shatter. ‘The Gilded Age’  will provide viewers with a taste of America’s ambitious and influential past. It will be an enlightening glimpse on the social clashes that erupted between tycoons who sought to establish their status and the families who’ve already become ingrained into “American Royalty.” In essence, it speaks to modern determination and offers a detailed look on the classic American dream of achieving success.”

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Why We Expect to Love ‘The Gilded Age’

The Gilded Age’ will be a momentary reflection on how our society has drastically evolved and look at the social implications that continue to arise as our daily lives continue to shift from technological and industrial advances. During the Gilded Age of America, there was a resounding sense of uncertainty that ultimately shifted the way Americans view wealth and possibility. The series’ remake of New York City’s historic façade will remind us why millions flock to 5th Avenue to soak in the allure of Manhattan. 

This will be an American twist on Fellowes mega-successful ‘Downton Abbey’ that will seemingly capture the vibrancy of New York’s early beginnings. It will break down how modernization transformed the lives of the upper-echelon along with those who worked hand to mouth. It will depict how many rose through the ranks of American aristocracy granting audiences the privilege of a close look at life over a century ago. 

Women will be a focus of the series since it will all be told through the inexperienced lens of a young woman, Marian Brook, who leaves the quiet life in rural Pennsylvania after the death of her father and settles with her wealthy relatives amongst the chaos of Manhattan where wealth speaks and privilege sings. Her two aunts,  Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon), inhabit contrasting values when it comes to wealth and society. There’s no doubt that ‘The Gilded Age’ will be an exciting and insightful look at New York’s past that slightly speaks to our present. 

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The Gilded Age’ is the latest creation by Julian Fellowes and is suspected to become a perfect binge-worthy series to watch this winter and will surely leave a lasting mark on HBO. In just nine episodes, the series will look back on the age of railroad tycoons and the early beginnings of technological advances. It’s already garnering buzz from fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ and has a historical vibe that instantly draws you in and leaves you wanting more. ‘The Gilded Age’ premieres on January 24, 2022, on HBO.

Cast: Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Louisa Jacobson, Morgan Spector, Carrie Coon, Denée Benton, Taissa Farmiga

Creator: Julian Fellowes

By Gina Michele Yaniz

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he tackles more than just police reform, press freedom and more – click here.

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