One of the period drama TV series that was in the works for quite some time and moving around network homes, Gilded Age is something I’ve never seen. Until now…
The Gilded Age (2021) HBO TV Series Review
Losing her father means that Miss Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) is worse off than she anticiaptes. Her father leaves her with little and yet, as she tells her lawyer, Mr. Raikes (Thomas Cocquerel) she isn’t beaten yet. With little option left, she accepts train tickets and an invitation to stay with her estranged aunts in New York.
Just prior to this, moving into a prime location in Central Park is the wealthy Mr. George Russell (Morgan Spector) and his wife Bertha (Carrie Coon). Coming from new money and though far wealthier than their neighbors, the sisters, Mrs. van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada (Cynthia Nixon), New York society doesn’t accept the couple. Regardless Bertha determines not to let dislike of new money keep them out of New York’s best, a place that will open every door there is to be had for her two children.
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Like any period epic, Gilded Age is a sprawling epic that is as beautiful as it is interesting as a story. Although, I do have gripes with it. Typically I like Fellowes writing and enjoy his works, this script seems quite modern. Perhaps because it’s set in America rather than England. The premise is one of battle between old and new money and even within old money between the different generations. There’s layers of Fellowes’ most famous series as well which is Downton Abbey.
The cast is a fabulous comingling of fresh and familiar talent which is a nice look. I love seeing Harry Richardson (he plays just as kind a character) in another Julian Fellowes series and after his role as a Jane Austen hero, Blake Ritson is another actor playing in this. In particular two things stand out. One being the kind of “final” big scene Jacobson plays. It’s not overly long or done up big, but how she plays it with emotion and in kindness is lovely. Additionally, I’m quite proud that the primary leading guy goes against script in how most writers would have him “fall.” I like the idea that this doesn’t seem to be overly cruel to the men in the lives of these women. This is perhaps the greatest surprise. Though we can admire much.
Perhaps it’s just because the time between period dramas is so lengthy, but even with its soap opera themes, this is something that enchants me. Again, perhaps just because it’s a reminder of how much I adore the genre. Everything is pretty to look at and while this echoes its peers, The Gilded Age is still supremely entertaining.
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RATING: 3 out of 5
CAST: Christine Baranski, Carrie Coon, Cynthia Nixon, Harry Richardson, Blake Ritson, Morgan Spector.
CONTENT: the first episode features a same sex couple falling into bed, kissing and undressing (implying a long standing relationship). Episode two contains the same sex couple lying half naked in bed together; episode nine has another same sex kiss. Episode three contains upper female nudity in a relatively lengthy scene (2-3 minutes); she seductively lies in bed with plans to seduce someone. There’s a suicide and we see blood splatter surrounding the body. Most episodes could pass for PG were it not for these few scenes.