The opening line of Slate’s story about the weekend season two premiere of Downton Abbey is, “I am breathless with anticipation for Downton Abbey’s return.” Seriously, who isn’t?
Entertainment news is dominated right now by the return of a PBS show set in the early 1900s focused on some upper crust Brits and their various servants. No car crashes, no naked breasts and/or penises, no A-list celebs scaling large buildings. It’s one of the top news story topics on Google News right now with outlets looking at the show from every possible angle. Also, it’s being discussed in Elle, Vogue, and elsewhere as a fashion inspiration. We’re simply arse over elbow over Downton.
More surprising, Downton Abbey is a soap opera airing at a time when U.S. television networks have cancelled just about every soap opera they had on their schedules. Slate says it’s simply “bloody good.”
“If the bitchy lines are delivered in an English accent, and the show airs on PBS, all the guilt that soaps usually produce is expiated post-haste,” the article says.
A Gannett story pins the demise of the daytime soap here in the States on a couple of things — working, which takes people away from their TVs during the day, and the time commitment that has to be made to the daytime soap.
Besides the fact that it’s in primetime like other shows crossing over into soap opera territory (Gannett uses Revenge as an example), the class issues that are dealt with on Downton are particularly timely. And, let’s face it, it appeals to the American fascination with British high society. Look at the hoopla over Will & Kate.
Downton creator Julian Fellowes spoke with TIME about the show, dismissing any U.S. interest in class.
“What the Americans want to see is life in their drama. Life of all sorts: hard lives, easy lives, or lives which, like most of ours, are a mixture of the two,” he said.