It’s finally here. The much beloved, and super classy, British soap opera is over. So what’s next? With Downton Abbey out of our lives, there’s now a block of time just waiting to be filled by some new series. So to get out of the dumps, here’s three shows that should scratch that itch.
War and Peace
This is low hanging fruit if you ask me, and an obvious replacement. The BBC miniseries is an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel of the same name. The adaptation was penned by Julian Fellowes himself (the creator of Downton Abbey), and even stars Lily James (Lady Rose from Downton) as Natasha Rostova. The series follows a group of Russian nobility as their lives are changing in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars. It shows the changing fortunes of Russian families and figures the same level of opulence that Downton is known for. It’s very classy. That being said, it’s far more violent and explicit than Downton ever was, so be wary. I have rather enjoyed it. It’s currently available on Lifetime’s website.
House of Cards
One of the things that made Downton great was the constant threat of scandal, and in a lot of ways House of Cards nails this aspect. Following Frank Underwood and his wife Claire, the series is about a family unit climbing the greasy pole of power in order to attain legacy. Seeing as this series is an adaptation of a British series, it features the same wit and elegant language, as Frank’s monologues to the audience are essential to the series’ success.
However, if you can stand watching something that is low quality production wise compared to modern TV, watch the original BBC series starring Ian Richardson. Andrew Davies, the writer of that series, is an Executive Producer on the US series, so that is how the DNA remains consistent, but the original series is only twelve total episodes, which make it the better series. Both are available on Netflix.
The core of what made Downton great was the story about a family from the Victorian Era trying to make sense of and keep their way of life intact in a rapidly modernizing world. That is the core of the drama in The Sopranos. It’s about a mob boss trying to keep his family operating under codes of honor in a time in which honor isn’t as important as making money (or preserving yourself). The Sopranos is arguably the series that kicked off the golden age of TV and allowed shows like Downton to exist, and even though the series was filmed in the late 90s and early 2000s, the cinematography was so revolutionary that it still looks and feels like a series that’s made today. As a result, watching the show now makes it feel like it’s a late 90s period piece in the same way Downton was. It contains tons of dated references and archaic technology that is completely normal and revolutionary to the characters. Like in the first season, Tony Soprano scores a DVD player, and it’s a huge deal. This series is available now on HBO Go or On Demand.