The Gilded Age is an American historical drama television series created and written by Julian Fellowes for HBO that is set in the United States during the titular era, the boom years of the 1880s in New York City. Originally announced in 2018 for NBC, it was later announced in May 2019 that the show was moved to HBO. The series premiered on January 24, 2022. In February 2022, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on October 29, 2023. The series has received mostly positive reviews, with particular praise for the costumes, cast and performances of lead actors Carrie Coon, Morgan Spector and Christine Baranski.
- Carrie Coon as Bertha Russell, determined to use her money and position to break into a polite society that resists change and newcomers at every turn
- Morgan Spector as George Russell, Bertha’s husband and a classic robber baron representing “new money”
- Louisa Jacobson as Marian Brook, penniless young gentlewoman whose circumstances force her to live with her estranged aunts
- Denée Benton as Peggy Scott, a young ambitious African-American writer who works as Agnes’ secretary
- Taissa Farmiga as Gladys Russell, innocent and naïve, yet ready to be treated as an adult
- Harry Richardson as Larry Russell, a recent Harvard University graduate eager to make his way in the world
- Blake Ritson as Oscar van Rhijn, Agnes’ intelligent and charismatic son who is looking for a rich heiress to guarantee him a proper standard of living and act as a shield for his homosexuality.
- Thomas Cocquerel as Tom Raikes (season 1), a sensible young lawyer, smitten when he meets Marian, his late client’s orphaned daughter
- Simon Jones as Mr. Alfred Bannister, the Van Rhijns’ self-aggrandizing English butler who keeps the rest of the staff in check
- Jack Gilpin as Mr. Church, the Russell family’s butler, a supporter of Mrs. Russell, excelling at his job
- Cynthia Nixon as Ada Brook, Agnes’ sister who is reliant upon her charity
- Christine Baranski as Agnes van Rhijn (née Brook), a proud and stubborn old money socialite, head of the Brook house
- Kelli O’Hara as Aurora Fane (season 2; recurring season 1), Agnes’ niece by marriage who helps Mrs. Russell break into society
- Donna Murphy as Caroline Schermerhorn Astor (season 2; recurring season 1), a prominent American socialite and leader of the elite group of New York society known as “The Four Hundred”
- Debra Monk as Mrs. Armstrong (season 2; recurring season 1), Mrs. Van Rhijn’s lady’s maid
- Kristine Nielsen as Mrs. Bauer (season 2; recurring season 1), cook for Mrs. Van Rhijn, who takes young Bridget under her wing
- Taylor Richardson as Bridget (season 2; recurring season 1), the Van Rhijn housemaid, troubled by an abusive past
- Ben Ahlers as John “Jack” Trotter (season 2; recurring season 1), footman of the Van Rhijn household
- Kelley Curran as Miss Turner (season 2; recurring season 1), Bertha’s ambitious lady’s maid, who does not intend to be a servant all her days. She is fired at the end of season 1.
- Douglas Sills as Monsieur Baudin (season 2; recurring season 1), the chef of the Russell household who initially presents himself as French before it is revealed that he is Josh Borden from Wichita, Kansas.
- Celia Keenan-Bolger as Mrs. Bruce (season 2; recurring season 1), the Russell’s new housekeeper
- Michael Cerveris as Mr. Watson (season 2; recurring season 1), George Russell’s valet
- Erin Wilhelmi as Adelheid (season 2; recurring season 1), Gladys Russell’s lady’s maid
- Patrick Page as Richard Clay (season 2; recurring season 1), George Russell’s loyal secretary
- Sullivan Jones as T. Thomas Fortune (season 2; recurring season 1), publisher of the weekly New York Globe
In September 2012, The Daily Telegraph reported Julian Fellowes as saying that he was working on a spin-off prequel of Downton Abbey. Initially conceived as a book, it was then planned for pick-up by ITV. At the time, Fellowes planned to focus the show around Lord Grantham and Cora’s romance and eventual marriage as the Earl and Countess of Grantham.
Production and writing for The Gilded Age was updated in January 2016. Asked whether he’d written the script yet, Fellowes said, ‘No I haven’t, no. I’m doing that this year’, before adding: ‘And then hopefully shooting at the end of the year.'”
On June 4, 2016, Fellowes was asked by the Los Angeles Times, “Where does The Gilded Age stand?” Fellowes replied, “It stands really with me up to my neck in research, and I’m clearing the decks, so that when I start Gilded Age, I’m only doing Gilded Age. These people were extraordinary. You can see why they frightened the old guard, because they saw no boundaries. They wanted to build a palace, they built a palace. They wanted to buy a yacht, they bought a yacht. And the old guard in New York weren’t like that at all, and suddenly this whirlwind of couture descended on their heads. They redesigned being rich. They created a rich culture that we still have—people who are rich are rich in a way that was established in America in the 1880s, ’90s, 1900s. It was different from Europe. Something like Newport would never have happened in any other country, where you have huge palaces, and then about 20 yards away, another huge palace, and 20 yards beyond that another huge palace. In England right up to the 1930s, when people made good money, they would buy an estate of 5,000 acres and they’d have to look after Nanny. The Americans of the 1880s and ’90s didn’t want too much of that.”
The final confirmation the show would be produced was announced by NBC in January 2018. NBC originally announced that the show would consist of ten episodes and premiere in 2019. About the show, Fellowes stated: “To write The Gilded Age is the fulfillment of a personal dream, I have been fascinated by this period of American history for many years and now NBC has given me the chance to bring it to a modern audience. I could not be more excited and thrilled. The truth is, America is a wonderful country with a rich and varied history, and nothing could give me more pleasure than be the person to bring that compelling history to the screen.”
In May 2019, the series moved from NBC to HBO, with a straight to series order. The series premiered on January 24, 2022, and consists of nine episodes.
On February 14, 2022, HBO renewed the series for a second season.
January 24, 2022
- E01 – “Never the New”
- E02 – “Money Isn’t Everything”
- E03 – “Face the Music”
- E04 – “A Long Ladder”
- E05 – “Charity Has Two Functions”
- E06 – “Heads Have Rolled for Less”
- E07 – “Irresistible Change”
- E08 – “Tucked Up in Newport”
- E09 – “Let the Tournament Begin”
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