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TV Review: Downton Abby

Andrea Deignan

You may have noticed the words Downton Abby appearing in your Facebook news feed, in your friends’ Tweets, in the newspaper, on the Internet… basically, everywhere. What is this Downton Abby, you ask yourself? It happens to be the latest British invasion. Our friends from across the pond have brought us a new show that is sweeping the nation.

Downton Abby is the story of the Crawley family – the Earl and Countess of Grantham and their daughters: Mary, Edith, and Sybil. The Crawleys live in the lap of luxury in an English country house that the series’ name comes from. In addition to the family, Downton Abby is full of servants, who run and keep the house. The stories of upstairs and downstairs weave in and out, showing what life was like for the haves and the have-nots. The story begins with the sinking of the Titanic and the effect it has on the family. The pace quickly moves from there. Now, in its second season, Downton is thrust in the middle of World War I.

Downton first aired in Britain in September 2011, and PBS picked it up in January 2012. The show has been an all-out hit ever since. By winning an Emmy and the Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or TV Film, Downton proved it has earned its place on American television. With the plots of a modern day soap opera, you will be hooked after the first 10 minutes. Three love stories; two revenge plots; adultery, deception, and so much more draw audiences in each week. What really makes the show are the complex and drama-filled characters. There is Miss O’Brien, the Ladies Maid, who, along with Footman turned Solider Thomas, have a hidden agenda. Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, Butler and Housekeeper, keep the peace downstairs among the servants. Lady Mary brings the drama of her privileged family with her scandalous ways and cold-hearted attitude.

It is impossible to talk about Downton Abby and not mention Maggie Smith. At 77, the actress known for her role as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series, plays an equally strong character in Downton. As Countess of Grantham and grandmother of the family, Violet Crawley, Smith is a favorite among viewers. Tumblr pages, Twitter accounts, and You Tube videos have been dedicated to the many one-liners Violet has become so famous and well-liked for: “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.” “Edith, you are a Lady, not Toad of Toad Hall.” “Oh, really! It’s like living in a second-rate hotel, where the guests keep arriving and no one seems to leave!” Just a few of the many quotes you can expect from Violet.

Downton Abby is a show you just can’t stop watching. The writing and acting come together flawlessly and make it a show that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Downton Abby is in its second season, airing Sundays on PBS at 9 p.m. until Feb. 19. If you want to catch up, the first seasons are available on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon. Episodes of the second season can be streamed on The show was renewed for a third season.  It was recently announced that Shirley MacLaine would join the cast, playing Lady Grantham’s mother. Downton Abby’s third season will premiere in Britain in September 2012; a date for the American season premiere has not been set yet.

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