Julian Fellowes, the creator of the British period drama “Downton Abbey,” has concluded a deal to create a new period drama for NBC based on the Gilded Age of New York City, the network announced on Tuesday.Read the rest here.
The new television drama will be produced by the NBC Universal television studio.
In its release, NBC described the series, which will be called “The Gilded Age,” as an “epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made — and spent — in late 19th century New York.”
Mr. Fellowes said in a statement, “This was a vivid time with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls, of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king.”
I suppose it was inevitable, but I have doubts about this. It's an interesting period in history to be sure. My fear though is that this will just be a sort of "Dallas" set in the 1880's instead of a serious exploration of Gilded Age Society. Yes, money and greed were big factors but there were other issues too. It was the age of the industrial revolution and a massive gulf between the plutocrats of Fifth Avenue and the slums and tenements of the Lower East Side. It was the age of remarkable social reform movements from Temperance to Women's Suffrage. And it was also the period when you saw the first wave of political radicalism in the Anarchist movement and later the early Marxists.
The track record of Americans when it comes to period drama is spotty at best. We have had some great ones like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. But we also routinely produce lackluster period pieces that can't seem to confine themselves to the era they are supposed to be in or they try to be hybrid soap operas or sitcoms. I remember that an attempt was made to create an the American Upstairs Downstairs in the 70's and it flopped badly.
We will have to see if this is more Edith Wharton or J.R.Ewing in top hat and frock coat.