Season 5 Wraps Up 1924 at Downton Abbey

DATELINE: Up the Downstairs



Underbutler Barrows (Rob James-Collier)


Change is in the air. We are vaguely reminded of Upstairs Downstairs again as the show for the snobs of TV history. The Roaring 20s are already half over—and the winds of change, if not the winds of war, are in the air of English society.

If you recall, Upstairs Downstairs crashed to an end with suicides, bankruptcy, and with the Stock Market Crash of 1929. People lost their jobs—and the townhouse of Eaton Place went up for grabs at auction after the family heir and son blew out his brains.

Already the servants at Downton are thinking retirement. Several characters are out buying property where they can live as hosts of a bed and breakfast. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore, and Bates and his wife, are all now servants of property. How Edwardian.

Upstairs, Lady Mary and Lady Edith are into business—saving their beloved white elephant estate. Tom Branson, the chauffeur who came up the back stairs, now is thinking about business in America.

The actions this season at Downton have seemed preparatory to some great calamity being hinted at. And, we students of history know exactly where this is heading.

Add in a few dollops of anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head, and Mr. Hitler too is on the docket.

The only hopeful sign is that Barrows, the scheming gay butler, may have found a playmate in footman Andy. Thank heavens for happy endings.

Oh, we’ll be back for Season 6 next year.