"Downton Abbey" has come to an end, much to the disappointment of its millions of fans. Combining fantastic writing, brilliant acting and a sumptuous location, this was a series that raised the bar of what makes good television programming.
As a fan of the show, I was in awe of Julian Fellowes' gift for creating multiple plot lines and keeping them straight through six seasons. He made us root for the heroes and heroines, but also feel empathy towards some of the villains as well. He peeled back the various layers of personality to discover that no matter what station of life you're born into, we all want the same things: acceptance, love and purpose. His characters lived beyond the realm of our televisions on Sunday nights to populate not only fan fiction but inspire books, fashion and a resurgence of "old-fashioned" names.
Some of us writers hope to have such a success with a series. So my question is, what made "Downton Abbey" so popular when even the programming directors had their doubts? Here's my opinion of some of those factors:
1. History was made relevant by putting characters of that time in situations that we the audience deal with too. We also worry about the future of our children, the finance of the family, and the state of our country as it goes to war or faces challenges. While we may have been watching a world that no longer exists, we could understand what they were facing.
2. The attention to the smallest detail created a desire to know more about the time period. Thus the series expanded the audience's attention beyond the one hour it aired on Sunday nights. They wanted to know more and sought out more information.
3. The writing, the writing, the writing. While the acting on the show was superb, they would not have succeeded so well without the words by Julian Fellowes. He had a grasp on the worlds both upstairs and down that you could tell who was who by the words they spoke. We could tell when Lady Violet spoke as compared to Mrs. Crawley or Mrs. Padmore. Each characters' speech rang true with who they were. Fellowes also juggled multiple storylines and was able to tie things up in a tidy bow by the end (while leaving room for future movies).
I loved this series and will miss it dearly.