I resisted it for ages, but by episode two of the first series I was hooked. And as I come to the end of what's available (I'm up to episode six of series five) I am steeling myself for going cold turkey. What is so gripping about it?
The beating heart of Downton Abbey is the conflict between cherishing the beauty and quality of what exists now and seeing what needs to change for the sake of future happiness and success.
The upstairs clan can be seen as the conscious mind - the team that gets to call the shots, and take action out in the world. Lord Grantham's goal to uphold convention is undermined by his daughters, who are agents of change. Their desires for love and authenticity naturally undermine the status quo.
The family is closely connected to the downstairs team (the unconscious) which works tirelessly on their behalf. This conscious/unconscious element means it is deeply satisfying when there is recognition and increasing understanding between upstairs and downstairs.
On another level, just being in those beautiful settings and listening to the character's distinctive voices is a pleasure. I am truly reluctant to leave this world.
Hear hear, to Julian Fellowes, for creating a series with such depth and glamour!
To avoid accidentally jumping ahead, here's the order of the Downtown Abbey series, including the Christmas specials:
- Series 1 and 2
- Christmas at Downton Abbey (released Christmas 2011)
- Series 3
- A Journey to the Highlands (released Christmas 2012)
- Series 4
- The London Season (released Christmas 2013)
- Series 5
- A Moorland Holiday (released Christmas 2014)