I feel like I have a hard time living in the present.
When I’m looking for an escape from everyday life, I like to look back at how the ancestors lived for the past seven hundred years or look ahead and see how things might turn out in a generation or three. .
I started watching the new Home Box Office (HBO) series “The Gilded Age” when it premiered last month. The series is created by Julian Fellowes, who brought “Downton Abbey” to life on public television a decade ago. “The Gilded Age” is set in 1882 New York.
From the HBO website: “In 1882, young Marian Brook moved from rural Pennsylvania to New York City after her father’s death to live with her aunts Agnes van Rhijn and Ada Brook. Accompanied by Peggy Scott, an aspiring writer looking for a fresh start, Marian inadvertently finds herself embroiled in a social war between one of her aunts, a scion of the old gambling business, and her neighbors. prodigiously wealthy, a ruthless railroad magnate and his ambitious wife, George and Bertha Russel. Exposed to a world on the brink of the modern age, Marian must choose whether she will follow the established rules of society or forge her own path.
The Golden Age was a time when large sums of money were made by people who profited from industrialization. It was also a time of great wealth inequality, where a few made their fortunes, while others struggled to survive.
The program is very similar to “Downton Abbey” in many ways. There are many characters, many plots that unfold over several episodes, even several seasons. HBO announced a renewal for a second season last week.
One of the great things about shows like “The Gilded Age” is that a glimpse into a bygone era is given. By 1882, photography was well established and in use, so there are historic images that costume designers and set designers can draw inspiration from for the show. There are real letters and newspapers to read to get an idea of what was going on at the time.
One of the things that I think would be a huge challenge for Fellowes, who wrote the episodes I’ve seen so far, is finding a way to tell the story to make it as historically accurate and interesting.
Peggy Scott is a black woman looking to make her way as an author. His family is well off, his father owns a pharmacy, the family lives in a nice house with servants. Peggy wants to break up, so she takes a job as van Rhijn’s personal secretary.
In a recent episode, Marian Brook follows Scott to Brooklyn to give shoes to Scott’s family, not realizing they were well off. A naturally awkward scene follows.
After the Civil War, there was a renaissance in black culture, education, and entrepreneurship. This period is largely forgotten today. I’m glad he was included in this show.
But this leads to more awkwardness. Can a show really show us what it was like 140 years ago without offending the sensibilities of a 2022 audience? By showing what really happened to black entrepreneurs, will the series be accused of being too politically correct? When sexism and racism occur, will they be portrayed correctly?
The show has been good so far, can’t wait to see where it leads.
As always, I await your comments. You can reach me by email at [email protected], phone 715-268-8101 or write to me at PO Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.
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