Oh, what delicious fun 2022 will bring. HBO has finally announced the release date for Julian Fellowes’s new period drama, The Gilded Age, set in 1880s America—a time of great wealth, but also social stratification and inequality. Fellowes, who created popular TV drama Downton Abbey, is the brains behind this new, highly-bingeable series that explores the rivalries between old and new money that will be released in January 2022.
Fellowes told The Los Angeles Times in 2016 about his fascination for this period in New York society:
“These people were extraordinary. You can see why they frightened the old guard, because they saw no boundaries. They wanted to build a palace, they built a palace. They wanted to buy a yacht, they bought a yacht. And the old guard in New York weren’t like that at all, and suddenly this whirlwind of couture descended on their heads. They redesigned being rich. They created a rich culture that we still have.”
The nine-part series has just released its first glimpse at the decadence and drama awaiting its audience, along with a look at its star-studded cast—Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, and Taissa Farmiga, among others—in full 19th-century regalia.
Here, we share everything we know about the upcoming TV series.
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What’s the plot?
It’s an all-out battle royale for New York City, as the drama sets up the premise of old money vs new money in 1880s America. Against the backdrop of staggering wealth being made from the country’s industrialisation, the ancient bastions of New York society face off against the new, fabulously wealthy encroaching on the city.
“Power belongs to old New York, my dear. Not the new. Never the new,” Christine Baranski’s character, Agnes van Rhijn, declares imperiously in the trailer. “The old have been in charge since before the revolution, until the new people invaded.”
And so the scene is set.
The official synopsis from HBO, according to IndieWire, reads:
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, the series 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 neighbours, a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife, George (Morgan Spector) and Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon).