The Gilded Age S01E01 is the pilot episode of a historical drama television series created by Julian Fellowes for HBO that is set in the United States during the Gilded Age, the boom years of 1880s New York City. Fellowes is, of course, best known for creating critically acclaimed and popular period dramas like the Gosford Park film and Downtown Abbey TV series.
Entitled “Never the New”, The Gilded Age S01E01 lays out the 19th century setting and the characters that will drive the story forward in this nine-part 1st season. Essentially, the series revolves around two families who live opposite each other. The Russells viz. robber baron George (Morgan Spector) and his ambitious wife Bertha (Carrie Coon), the van Rhijn/Brook family consisting of sisters Agnes (Christine Baranski) and Ada (Cynthia Nixon) and their niece, Marian (Louisa Jacobson).
Thematically, as the episode title suggests, The Gilded Age S01E01 sets out the ongoing conflict between the Russells (who represent ‘new money’) and their neighbours (who represent ‘old money’). Perhaps it’s difficult to fully appreciate this kind of prejudice of a bygone era in contemporary times so hopefully the series does a better job in bringing that across. Only then, can we understand the animosity between the characters.
The supporting cast of younger characters will in all probability represent a more progressive view (for those times) and present more opportunity for drama and tension amongst the various characters. Considering the pedigree of the writing, expectations will be high for the remainder of the season.
Certainly, there are no complaints concerning the production values as the sets and locations look exquisite and the audience is effortlessly transported to those times, with attention to detail evident also in the costume design. Definitely, period drama fans will love every aspect of The Gilded Age and S01E01 is a promising start!
Now streaming at HBO Max.
… still there’s more …