Since the beginning of this year, there is one phrase I have heard many times, in many forms. There was the most common ‘are you watching Downton Abbey?!’, or ‘you’re watching Downton Abbey, right?’ Or, for the people who know me well enough to know that a new costume drama from the BBC is as irresistible to me as a cheese platter, ‘I assume you watched Downton Abbey.’ For a shamefully long time, the answer was no, I wasn’t watching it. I had no good excuse – I was working on a play, I guess I was busy, but the reality is, I just hadn’t gotten around to it.
Well, finally, I did, thanks to Netflix on demand. And within a half an hour, I was completely sucked into the world of Downtown Abbey, the palatial home of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, their three daughters, and their myriad servants, and the Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith so delightfully that you rejoice when she enters the screen. I just watched the last episode of the season last night, and afterward I was left with the melancholy that comes from having gotten deeply involved with the lives of these characters, and knowing that I’ll now have to wait until the winter of 2012 to find out what’s happening to them.
Luckily, the BBC must have known the pain they were causing Downton Abbey fans by not having a constant stream of calling cards and pining looks and shifting social happenings. Because they made this brilliant parody, ‘Uptown Downstairs’, with a cast arguably just as famous as the actual cast (who knew Kim Cattrall was such a good mimic? She gets Elizabeth McGovern’s strange mid-atlantic kewpie voice just right), to tide us over. And boy, is it funny.
If you haven’t experienced the delight that is Downton Abbey, get thee to Netflix immediately. And once you’re done, come on back. If you have already seen Downton, then be prepared to hit repeat a few times. Especially on the Thomas/O’Brien/Bates moments. Amazing.