But what makes Downton Abbey such a guilty pleasure? What is it about watching Lady Mary and Matthew flirt and fight in secret with the sexual tension thick enough that everyone else can barely breathe that we can’t say no to, that makes the sight of Bates sitting there, glowering with moral superiority as the world falls to pieces around him so bizarrely appealing? Since Downton premiered in 2010, there have been attempts on both sides of the Atlantic to try and duplicate the show’s success – The BBC’s dour, Nazi-filled revival of Upstairs, Downstairs, which aired in the US alongside Downton as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series, and the international miniseries Titanic that aired on ABC last April, to name just a couple – but none have quite managed to get it exactly right. What is it about Downton Abbey‘s DNA that makes it quite so hard to clone?
A mostly-removed paragraph from today’s Time Entertainment piece, which proved to be a beast to write, and in a compressed time frame compared to the usual schedule due to the holidays (Traditionally, there’s a full week between pitching and the piece going live, allowing for multiple days writing/researching, then a day of edits and re-writes; this time, there were three days between pitch and the piece going live). You’re welcome, Internet.