I started watching this show back in May and just finished it in September. It originally aired from January 2011 to December 2015, with six seasons of 7-9 episodes each that range from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. It seems like a lot of time to invest, but trust me, it is completely worth it. Downton Abbey is high up on the ever-growing list of my favourite TV shows of all time. It certainly isn’t for everyone, as the genre is classified as “historical period drama”, which to some people must seem incredibly boring. But I am one of those weird people that loves period dramas, probably due to my early exposure to them (my mom watched the 1995 Pride & Prejudice with me when I was a baby) and my fascination with the culture and lifestyle of other periods. If you, like me, don’t love to learn about history in school but would rather watch it unfold in dramatic form, this show is definitely for you.
It begins in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic and how it affects the elite Crawley family and their various servants. The viewer is immediately thrust into the family’s drama, which is good for people who don’t like drawn out expositions. The show focuses on nearly every member of its large cast, which some shows may find difficult to do in 45 minutes, but Downton Abbey accomplishes it perfectly. If the actor’s name is one of the many in the opening credits, they will get screen time and probably a decent storyline as well, although some characters will have more developed storylines in certain episodes than others.
As an English major, I am very concerned with the writing and development of the characters of anything I read or watch, and I must say I was very impressed with the characters in this show. They are all extremely well-written and have interesting, realistic storylines. They also all have flaws, which I love, because flaws make characters much more interesting, real, and accessible. There are some characters that I would hate in one moment and feel sorry for the next, which is difficult to achieve. I also changed my opinion about many of the characters as I watched the show and learned more about them. By the end of the show, one of my favourite characters was someone that I initially despised, and the writers’ ability to make me completely reverse my opinion like that makes me appreciate their talents even more. Additionally, all of the actors were absolutely wonderful, and their execution brought the characters to life and made me feel for them in every situation.
It isn’t just the characters and the writing that made me love this show so much, it’s everything else. The sets, the costumes, the music, the cinematography – Downton Abbey has the whole package. The fact that the show was filmed entirely on location at Highclere Castle and has amazingly detailed costumes makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the early 20th century, which is perfect if you’re looking to escape reality. But let me warn you: this makes it very easy to binge watch, and you may end up losing hours of your day to it because you got too invested (it happened to me multiple times). As much as you would like to binge it, I would suggest taking it a bit slower so you can savour it and truly enjoy every episode – something I wish I had done instead of watching episode after episode just trying to absorb everything and find out what is going to happen. Downton Abbey is one of those shows that you only come across every once in a while, so you have to enjoy it while you can, because after it ends your life will feel empty without it. But, if it makes you feel any better, they are currently shooting a movie, so there will be more Downton content to fill your void in 2019.
I recently started watching the new Netflix original Sisters, which I am really enjoying so far. It is a 45 minute to one-hour long show, and its first season consists of 7 episodes. It is an Australian comedy/drama about a woman named Julia who discovers that her fertility doctor father he supplemented his own sperm for years and may have fathered over 100 children. She organizes a group meeting to get all of the siblings together, and discovers that there are only three sisters – her, her childhood friend Edie (who she hates), and Roxy, a children’s entertainer who is battling addiction. The show centres on the three of them, with some storylines including the other siblings (but not all of them obviously, because there isn’t enough time for that). We get to peak into the lives of each sister and see how the situation affects them in different own ways.
I am only a few episodes into this show, but it is a very easy watch, which is a nice break after watching something super dramatic. It does have its drama, and a lot of it, but the stakes are not as high as they are in other dramas, as it revolves around realistic subjects, such as family, marriage, work, and mental health. It feels much more grounded in the real world than a lot of shows I’ve seen, and it deals with important subjects in natural ways. The characters contribute to it feeling real, as the sisters are all well-rounded individuals and feel like people you could actually meet. They all have strengths and flaws, but they are very well-balanced, and none of them feel like caricatures even though they could have easily become them. Despite their flaws and mistakes, they are all likeable and easy to root for. The acting is also great, which makes the performances even more convincing.
Overall, I would recommend this show to anyone looking for a realistic drama/comedy about family and life.
I know I am so late in saying this, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine is great. I finally gave in to the hype and started watching it with my boyfriend, and while it took me a little while to get into it, I am completely addicted now. It started in 2013 and has five seasons of 22-23 episodes with the sixth currently in production. The show’s creators are Michael Schur, who worked on The Office and created Parks & Recreation, and Dan Goor, who also worked on Parks & Recreation. If you are a fan of either of those shows, as I am, I would highly recommend Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It has a very similar style of humour, although it is not a mockumentary like the other shows. It is, however, a very funny workplace comedy (who knew that police work could be so hilarious?) with a fantastic ensemble cast.
What makes the cast so amazing is that it is very diverse, making it seem like an actual workplace. To make it even more appealing, the show touches on serious topics that relate to race, sexuality, and other important issues, but it does so from a comedic perspective that doesn’t take them too lightly or make them too serious for a comedy. The show makes you aware of these issues and helps you learn about them without detracting from their seriousness or the show’s humour.
My only complaint about this show is that many of the characters are very similar to those from Parks & Recreation, which makes it seem like the writers couldn’t think of unique characteristics and decided to just make the same characters in a different show. There are some differences, which become more apparent as the show goes on, and there are some characters that don’t resemble those we’ve seen before, but I am disappointed with the overall trend of characters fitting into molds of previous ones. I am hoping that as the show continues it will continue to develop the characters and make them more unique and interesting.
I am only on the second season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I am so glad that I started watching it. I didn’t see the appeal before, but now that I’m watching it I can see what I was missing out on all that time. For anyone who is considering starting it, my advice is to give it a chance. You will not regret it.
Featured image from Downton Abbey.