Polish the family silverware, tighten the corsets, put on the elbow-length satin gloves and prepare tea in the finest china in the house, because it’s time to fall under the sumptuous charm of The Gilded Age, the new period series from the creator of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes.
Posted at 7:15 a.m.
We will not hide here: The Gilded Age (The golden age), which comes out this Monday in English on Crave and in French on Super Ecran, it’s exactly like Downton Abbey, but in New York, in 1882. The dramatic violins that punctuate the opening credits, the twisted relations between servants and employers, the crucial importance of social rank, the ostentatious evenings of the privileged castes, the repressed homosexuality of a pivotal character, as well as money, always money: The Gilded Age will serve you all the luxurious ingredients of Downton Abbey, but in a less sulphurous version.
The soapy side of Downton Abbey has been softened in The Gilded Age, which turns out to be wiser. At least, in the first three episodes (out of a total of nine) that I saw. The first episode alone, a bit diluted, lasts almost 1 hour 30 minutes without a commercial break, the length of a film.
Despite a few crinolines that roll up, this is very good television, both smart and entertaining, with a princely budget.
Everything sparkles in this charming production, from the magnificent costumes to the acting of the actresses, including that of the marvelous Christine Baranski (The Good Fight), who takes on a role similar to that of the unforgettable Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) of Downton Abbey.
In The Gilded Age, Christine Baranski plays the authoritarian widow Agnes van Rhijn, who lives with her “spinster” sister Ada (Cynthia Nixon) in a splendid mansion east of Central Park. Agnes van Rhijn represents old New York money, money that has been handed down from family to family over several generations.
Agnes and her friqueous friends — very boring too, let’s say it — formed the aristocracy of the end of the 19th century.e century and control the most important institutions of the city. Nothing is more vulgar in their eyes than those new rich people called Rockefeller or Vanderbilt who were made richer by the Industrial Revolution. Absolutely no class.
But, surprise, a couple of these upstart bourgeois move into a huge palace — what a lack of taste! — built across the street from where the van Rhijns live. They are George Russell (Morgan Spector) and his wife Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon). George made his fortune building the railroad. His wife Bertha persists in breaking through the hyper-hermetic circle of upper-class ladies.
George and Bertha Russell make a formidable pair. They are ambitious, united and cruel. They stop at nothing in their quest for social recognition.
The excellent third episode, which has the air of Succession, shows how far the Russells will go to punish the good society that rejected them.
The miniseries’ other agent of change is Marian Brook, played by Meryl Streep’s youngest daughter, Louisa Jacobson. A penniless orphan, Marian arrives at her aunts Ada and Agnes van Rhijn with “progressive” ideas like wanting to marry a man she loves and not finding a good match, with the right last name. Insert here a sigh of discouragement from Aunt Agnes.
Marian also brings to New York her new African-American friend Peggy Scott (Denée Benton), who dreams of becoming a writer. An inaccessible profession “for a woman of color” in 1882.
Yes, I would have taken more scandalous elements in The Gilded Age. But OK. When the crystal shines with such brilliance, we will not start rubbing the glassware unnecessarily like a Marie-Chantal Toupin on a kitchen counter in Big Brother.
Poor Stéphane Fallu!
Comedian Stéphane Fallu really had no chance of playing Big Brother Celebrities on Novo. He was targeted, ostracized and sacrificed only because he entered the house a week too late. It was really sad, almost pathetic, to see all his roommates ganging up on him, for no good reason.
The boss of the week, the youtubeur Pierre-Luc Cloutier, even spoke of a great “injustice”. Let’s see. Comedian and entertainer Tranna Wintour, the last participant to catch COVID-19, left home to live in self-isolation at a hotel. Will she be punished on her return because she spent several days less on the adventure than the others?
Poor Stephane Fallu. He felt sorry for the host Marie-Mai.
The comedian tried very hard not to denigrate the other candidates, including Guylaine Guay who got his head, but it felt like he had a big heart.
Little balm for Stéphane Fallu: after his ousting on Sunday evening, France Beaudoin asked him on Twitter if he agreed to sit in the chair ofLive from the universe of Radio Canada. He said yes.
We also saw on Sunday evening that the next target of the majority reality TV alliance is called Valérie Carpentier, who seems to be spinning very bad cotton, poor thing. Why do the people in power in Big Brother aren’t they trying to get out of dominant competitors like Martin Vachon or Guylaine Guay? It’s easy to aim for Stéphane Fallu or Valérie Carpentier. It’s easy, predictable and very loose.