Blessings keep raining down upon the posh Downton Abbey fandom. First, the long-awaited movie bowed in theaters, stretching the Emmy-winning show’s legacy and filling up the canon with new revelations. It did big business at the box office, earned warm reviews, and inspired the cast to start dreaming up sequel ideas. It seems that things are also, now, quickly moving ahead for The Gilded Age, the forthcoming HBO show from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.
Emmy-winning stars Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon have been cast as co-leads on the upcoming drama, according to TVLine. Reps for the show have not yet confirmed the casting report to Vanity Fair, but Nixon shared the news on Twitter. The two will play a pair of aristocratic sisters. Baranski will play the stubborn Agnes van Rhijn, a woman who “managed to hook a husband just as her family’s plantation was collapsing and proudly resists change at every turn,” the outlet notes. So, like the Dowager Countess fused with Scarlett O’Hara? Sound the problematic alarms, baby!
Nixon will play Agnes’ sister, Ava Brook, who has to turn to her sister for financial support. The cast also includes Amanda Peet, playing a social-climber named Bertha Russell, and Morgan Spector, as Bertha’s husband, the competitive robber baron George Russell. The show is set in 1880s America and follows Marian Brook, the daughter of a late Southern general. Her life is up-ended when she moves to New York City to live with her aunts, who traffic in aristocratic circles. It’s Gossip Girl, but make it gilded.
The 10-episode show is created, executive produced, and written by Fellowes. Downton alums Gareth Neame and Michael Engler will executive produce as well; Engler will also direct. When The Gilded Age was still in development at NBC, it was slated for a spring 2019 release. However, after HBO picked it up in May, it’s no longer clear when the show will make its debut. We’ll just have to wait for a formal announcement, or for grainy paparazzi photos of Baranski and Nixon on set in hoop skirts to give us a general approximation.