2015: a futuristic year we never believed would ever come. We leap forward without a flying car but with plenty of techie gadgets to wow our past selves. So much so that one might ask, with our growing adoration for all things shiny and digital, what’s the global appeal of the 1920’s British period drama “Downton Abbey“? Perhaps paradoxically, as we steamroll further into FaceTime and shared Google Docs, we pine for handwritten letters carried into our drawing room on a footman’s silver tray. Secretly we question if the future always portends undesirable change. Downton’s loyal butler, Carson, likens the shifts in his era to the ground shaking under his feet and longs for an earlier stability. We too romanticize our past, including that of the Edwardians of Downton Abbey and in the case of myself and several hundred ticket holders, this shared obsession is manifested at a wonderful gala, a night to live out our fantasy of days long past in costume.
I’ve returned home after a glorious week traipsing around London! Yes, impossible to see it all or do it all, but one can catch a glimpse, and for this traveler the sights were awe-filled. What struck me more this visit than any other is the fast-paced new-innovations that are capturing the cityscape, and the fact that these new wonders reside along with all the historical treasures the UK boasts.
Yes, the Downton Abbey craze has hit my home, and by all measurable stats, this phenomenal series has entered living rooms and imaginations all around our globe. Ever since Season 1 premiered in England during September of 2010 the buzz has only gotten louder. The show now is available in over 100 countries including Sweden, Russia, South Korea, and across the Middle East, propelling Season 3 to their largest audience to date. In my own family, it is followed with earnest devotion by my 85 year old mother, my twenty-something daughter, my middle-age self, and just about everyone in between.
120 million people have watched this show–5 1/2 million caught the Season 2 finale. So what is it about the Crawley family and the downstairs crew that serve them that compels across generations, across nationalities, or any border what-so-ever? That is the very question I have been asking myself ever since I, along with several hundred others donning period costumes, attended the super-fun one-day-early Vermont Public Television Season 3 premier on the Big Screen Downton Affair…