Originally coined by Mark Twain, “The Gilded Age” is a sarcastic nickname for the time period in between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the nineteenth century. Taught in most history classrooms as the age of industrialization, economic booms and the corruption of wealthy tycoons, it’s the subject of the long-awaited new drama series from “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.
Rather than just shining the spotlight on the elite upper class society who throw big parties and make sweeping gestures with their money, “The Gilded Age” layers that lifestyle with the realities of the middle class, working class and post-Civil War life for Black Americans.
Season 1 has nine episodes that will air between January 24 and March 14. Read more below about where, when and how to watch “The Gilded Age.”
When Does “The Gilded Age” Premiere?
The first episode of the “The Gilded Age” premieres Monday, Jan. 24 at 9 p.m. ET.
Is “The Gilded Age” Streaming?
Yes, “The Gilded Age” will stream on HBO Max at the same time that each new episode premieres on HBO.
Is “The Gilded Age” Released Weekly or All at Once?
“The Gilded Age” will follow a weekly release, with the 1 hour and 20-minute first episode debuting on Jan. 24 and one new episode airing weekly for the next eight weeks, leading up to the season finale on March 14.
What Is “The Gilded Age” About?
The show starts in 1882 with young Marian Brook moving from Doylestown in rural Pennsylvania to booming urban New York City after the death of her father, who left her very little money. In NYC, she lives with her old money aunts Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon). The widowed Agnes, who claims to have caught a husband just in time, now lives with her sister Ada, who never married. Agnes keeps careful watch over the new money Russell family who move into their modern mansion right across the street from the van Rhijn household, headed by railroad tycoon George Russell (Morgan Spector) and his fashionable wife Bertha (Carrie Coon). A social war ensues between those of high society that came from old (English) money and those making their mark with new money and wanting to break in and change social standards. Prominent names like Carnegie, Rockefeller and Vanderbilt, as well as Clara Barton — founder of the American Red Cross — set the scene in the background of the family battles.
Who Is in “The Gilded Age”?
Louisa Jacobson — Meryl Streep’s youngest daughter — stars as central heroine Marian Brook. Denée Benton, known or theatrical roles like Natasha in “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” as well as Eliza Hamilton in “Hamilton,” co-stars as Peggy Scott, an aspiring writer who gives us a glimpse into Black professional life during The Gilded Age. Taissa Farmiga plays the supporting role of Gladys Russell, youngest child and daughter of George Russell (Morgan Spector) and Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon). Gladys has a brother Larry (Harry Richardson).
Across the street from the Russells where Marian and Peggy take up residence live Agnes Van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon) with their waitstaff led by butler Bannister (Simon Jones). Armstrong (Debra Monk) is Mrs. Van Rhijn’s maid, and she has command over their cook Mrs. Bauer (Kristine Nielsen), the combined kitchen, house and lady’s maid Bridget (Taylor Richardson) and their footman Jack Treacher (Ben Ahlers). Agnes’ son Oscar (Blake Ritson) stops by their home a lot as well.
The Russells’ servants include George’s secretary Richard Clay (Patrick Page), Bertha’s maid Turner (Kelley Curran), Chef Baudin (Douglas Sills), George’s valet Watson (Michael Cerveris) and housekeeper Mrs. Bruce (Celia Keenan-Bolger). Church (Jack Gilpin), the butler for Russells, oversees them all like Bannister does for the Brooks.
Peggy Scott’s parents Dorothy (Audra McDonald) and Arthur (John Douglas Thompson) live nearby in Brooklyn. T. Thomas Fortune (Sullivan Jones) welcomes Peggy into the journalism world at The New York Globe, a Black newspaper.
Society members of various reputations include Sylvia Chamberlain (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Aurora Fane (Kelli O’Hara), Anne Morris (Katie Finneran) and their businessmen husbands Patrick Morris (Michel Gill) and Charles Fane (Ward Horton). Atop the social hierarchy is Mrs. Astor (Donna Murphy) and her helpful filter Ward McAllister (Nathan Lane). Some eligible bachelors to watch out for are Tom Raikes (Thomas Cocquerel) and Cornelius Eckhard (Bill Irwin).
Where Is “Downton Abbey” Streaming?
The six seasons of “Downton Abbey” are available for streaming on Netflix, Peacock, PBS, Amazon Prime Video and Brit Box. The 2019 “Downton Abbey” movie is also streaming on Peacock.