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Downton Abbey This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

British TV series rarely get noticed by Americans. They're cute novelties, appreciated mostly by closet-Anglophiles. But a historical TV series from across the pond is gaining ground in the States, already earning an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

“Downton Abbey” revolves around an aristocratic family led by patriarch Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), and his American wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), in the years around the First World War. An equal amount of time is spent on the household servants. While these characters occupy the same monstrous home, they inhabit separate areas, and separate worlds, for that matter.

The first season begins right after the sinking of the Titanic, which claims the life of the family's heir. The audience is immediately swept into a fevered rush to find a new heir and a suitor for the eldest daughter, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), whose future is now uncertain. Next in line for the title is a distant cousin, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), a modest attorney, who has no experience in titular fluff and properness. Feeling slighted by this stranger, Lady Mary subject Matthew to secretive mockery and upturned noses. Meanwhile, the always bustling ensemble of maids, footmen, and household hands are an active part of the family, struggling with their own love interests and frustrations of the strict class system. Regardless of where they stand, they know their place, and it is to serve – and sometimes protect – the Crawleys with the utmost loyalty.

The series is an engaging, highly addictive period drama. Perhaps the glamor of evening dinners and the sublime countryside backdrop together with a stellar cast is what makes this show a stand-out. “Downton Abbey” is a blessed break from the overbearing antics of reality TV, bland comedies, and ridiculously dramatic contemporaries. Also, while it is an ancient story line, the complex relationship between enchanting noble and awkward commoner is played out with lows and highs that remind the viewer of the social expectations and class climbing that still existed during this time.

There's a character for everyone, whether the bitter and conniving footman, Thomas (Rob James-Collier); the overly confident Lady Mary; the jealous middle sister, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael); the rebellious youngest sister, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay); the overwhelmed common man, Matthew Crawley; or even the nosy grandmother, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith, who was Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter films).

Despite the extensive cast, the audience remembers each servant and noble's identity. A message that comes through despite the upper-class snobbery is that not one person is superior to another in the grand scheme of life, and everybody has their faults. Everybody matters; everybody hurts.

The show isn't geared to young adults, but there's a lot here they can relate to. Yes, it is a period drama, meaning that hip music and stereotypical snooty cheerleaders are absent. Yet one can be a Gleek or a devout viewer of “The Vampire Diaries” and still appreciate this series. However, comparing “Downton” to a show like “Gossip Girl” would be like comparing Beethoven to Ke$ha.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 6 comments. Post your own!

Merla said...
Sept. 11, 2013 at 10:10 am:
Oh God, I’m in love with this show. Your review pretty much summons all the reasons. I’m dying on the inside after the newest season though. Hope life gets a little easier for our beloved characters. 
 
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SHER_lockedThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 16, 2013 at 3:28 am:
Ahhh, I totally agree! My mom and I are in love with this show and all its twists and turns. I especially hated the ending of the third season though. Stupid actors and their contracts... Don't they know they only exist to make the rest of us happy?! ;)
 
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forgottenpennameThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 30, 2012 at 8:01 am:
CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING CHOSEN FOR THE PRINT MAGAZNE OH MY GOSHHHH!!!!!!! :D
 
RainyWriter This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 30, 2012 at 9:57 pm :
Thank you!!! I've been waiting for some sort of publication like this. So excited! Mind you, the article is technically really old now in comparison to the show (Season 2 wrapped up recently, now I have to wait until January for Season 3...urgh!) but that pales in comparison to getting this published. Thank you so much for the support!
 
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beautifulspiritThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 24, 2012 at 9:54 am:
This review is very well written and informative. The title grabbed me because I'm unfamiliar with the show---as you mentioned in the article, most Americans probably current with British televison. But I'm glad I read this review and "Downtown Abbey" seems like a show I might enjoy. As a "devout viewer of The Vampire Diaries", I believe that I will like this show. I love history~ 5/5 on the review and thanks for recommending it!
 
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Supernova7 said...
Feb. 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm:
Although this review is long and about a show most of us haven't heard of yet it was very insightful and interesting. I'm surprised no one else has commented on it. It's very good congratulations on being the Editors Choice:) Could you please read my work? Any advice is appreciated thanks.
 
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