After 6 Glorious Seasons, Downton Abbey Says Goodbye

After six mostly glorious seasons on air, Downton Abbey had its series finale on Sunday night. Show creator Julian Fellowes managed to create a hugely appealing, compelling series centered on Lord Grantham, his extended family and the servants whose lives intersected with their employers. What’s so amazing, as Vulture’s Jen Chaney points out, is Fellowes hit show didn’t require a central character who was difficult and dark, which made The Sopranos and Mad Men and Breaking Bad such phenomenons. “Its storylines were not edgy or zeitgeisty or ripped from the headlines, unless you’ve been reading websites where ‘Woman’s maid attempts to make soup for the first time’ counts as breaking news,” writes Chaney. “This is a show with Masterpiece connections, a preponderance of lords and ladies, and a fixation on under-butler protocol.” And yet, it was a cultural phenomenon. 

Spoiler Alert

For Downton fans, last night’s finale was hugely cathartic. As The New York Times’ Louis Bayard writes, “from a certain angle, the final episode of Downton Abbey was just about getting people out of the fine messes their creator had gotten them into, and hustling them with all due celerity toward the finish line.”

The PBS drama dropped the curtain on beloved characters’ and their romances, which included lot of baby news; the slow-boil romance of Anna (Joanne Frogatt) and Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) ended with them becoming parents, and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) revealed her pregnancy. There was news of new business ventures, with Henry (Matthew Goode) and Tom (Allen Leech) opening an auto dealership, and new bonds forged, between the aging, ailing Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) and Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier). As the USA Today notes, however, the most welcome turn of events in the finale for fans was likely Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) marrying Bertie (Harry Hadden-Patton), achieving wealth and social status that actually outstrips that of the rest of the Grantham clan.

Now that it’s all said and done, it’s really a triumph for Fellowes to have captivated so many viewers with a gracefully executed Upstairs/Downstairs multi-narrative that spanned six seasons and many epochal changes in England and the world at large, all seen through the eyes of the people who flowed in and out of Downton Abbey, an estate that saw its’ fair share of quality drama. 


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