Julian Fellowes, the creator and co-writer of Downton Abbey, has released a new series called The Gilded Age. The show’s blend of high society period drama, scandal, and simmering tensions is a winning combination.
If you’ve finished watching it and are seeking a new series that will provide you with a glimpse at what it’s like to be a member of the higher echelons of society, fear not! We’ve combed through the lot and found our six favourites.
1. Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey might be the most renowned television series based on high society. It immediately became a cult sensation globally, with viewers enjoying its upstairs-downstairs storylines. The plot begins in 1911, when the Crawley family faces losing their home, Downton Abbey, after the heir dies on the Titanic.
2. Gossip Girl
This elegant version of Cecily von Ziegesar’s book series immersed viewers in the lives of the Upper East Side elite, following the social manoeuvring of frenemies Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) and Serena Van Der Woodsen (Blake Lively). Meanwhile, ‘Gossip Girl’ dissects and distributes everything they do online. But who is she?
3. Brideshead Revisited
The 1980s television series is without a doubt the best adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s most famous novel. It stars Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder, a middle-class artist who becomes obsessed with two upper-class siblings. It’s the beginning of a love triangle that can only end in disaster. The series, which was shot on location at Yorkshire’s magnificent Castle Howard, has endured the test of time and is regarded as better than any film adaptation.
4. The OC
Set in the affluent enclave of Orange County, or ‘the OC,’ as its residents call it, this series focused on the lives and loves of a bunch of privileged teenagers, with plots centred on investment bankers gone awry, private school kids sent to public college, and debutante ball bust-ups. Despite the fact that it only lasted four seasons, its stars, Mischa Barton, Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody, and Ben McKenzie became immediate celebrities, appearing on the covers of every magazine from 2003 to 2007.
Bridgerton’s 19th-century England plot combines aspects of Gossip Girl and Downtown Abbey. Queen Charlotte is on the throne and society is predominantly divided between two upper-class families – the Featheringtons and the Bridgertons. The centrepiece for this tale is Daphne Bridgerton who gains the Queen’s favour during the upcoming season of societal balls and wedding proposals. The show’s storylines are typical rom-com territory, and Bridgerton unapologetically employs all of the tropes associated with the genre.
Julian Fellowes, the king of high drama high society storylines, returned to television in 2020 with this six-part series set in Regency period London during Belgravia’s ‘Boom Time.’ It begins with a party hosted by the Duchess of Richmond on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, and follows the lives of the ‘nouveau riche’ Trenchard family. Their presence at the ball sets in motion a chain of events that could not be expected, as secrets are revealed behind the porticoed doors of London’s most opulent postcode.
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