The Gilded Age: The Complete First Season... Reviewed!

Before I jump in, I want to give a shout-out to Warner Bros for providing us with a copy of this show for review. My opinions are my own. That said, let's jump in!

The Gilded Age: The Complete First Season... takes place in New York around the late 1800s, so outside of one other review... I rarely review shows like this (unless something grabs my attention). Not only does this show come from the mind of Julian Fellowes, who's actually the creator of "Downton Abbey", but it's also packed with award-winning actors and directors like Salli Richardson-Whitfield.

Is this show worth the watch time? Let's find out.

Story: Off the bat, the show delivers a nice noticeable pace (which almost feels like those I'd usually see in a limited series). It starts with statues being delivered to this huge home that belongs to the Russels (new money), which is right across the street from the Brooks (old money).

This initial scene doesn't give much away in that aspect (though it does show that the construction hasn't gone unnoticed), this is when we get our first glimpse of Ada Brook. 

The scene flowed into a letter being delivered to the Brooks, which transitions over to the spinning cog that represents Marian Brook in an almost Back to the Future'sh way... because the letter was in response to her Aunt Ada Brook. 

The transition takes us back to before the letter was written in order to connect the dots of why Marian makes her way to New York.

Marian's father (Henry Brook) died and left her with nothing (not even the house... that joker was rented out), but... her aunts are tied into the situation because Henry (their brother) took the money they should've all benefitted from and left them all with nothing to show for it.

So Marian's journey begins after she and her Aunt Ada spoke via snail mail confirming. Agnes wasn't happy about this because Ada didn't bother including her in this little plan... though the home and wealth belong to Agnes. Ada Brook is more of a free-spirited aristocrat (to a certain extent), while Agnes Van Rhijn is a bit more reserved, and stern, and lives by the "Old Rules". Leeway comes into play through Ada, because Agnes doesn't necessarily stifle what she does... even if she appears to disapprove.

These cogs continued to turn as new cogs like Peggy Scott were introduced in this episode as well. Peggy Scott is a modest Black American woman, and though she's reserved... Marian seems to get her out of her shell a bit as their bond grows. I won't give away everything, but you will find out how they meet when you watch the show.

I can still the soft side of Agnes' through her tough exterior. She shows a... (hmmm) bit of resentment because of what happened with her brother leaving them in a hole and almost forcing her hand to marry a man she didn't love. Marian reminds Agnes of her brother, and she mentioned it in private, but... I haven't seen her target her in any way to try and get some sort of weird revenge. Agnes embraces her because she's family and wants Marian to embrace a similar mindset that maintains her values.

Agnes also takes a fair approach with Peggy, although initially, she shows a bit of bigotry (in private). It certain stems from racism, but... I call it that for a reason. Agnes also opens a door of opportunity to Peggy... stemming from something that actually reveals a connection they both have. Peggy's reserved, but she's honest about the racial climate to both Marian and this company based on a situation that shines more light on subtle overt racism. Peggy made her way to New York for a different reason... which involves her parents, and I won't reveal why she doesn't care for her dad, but I did begin to feel that there was a "Man Bad" vibe beginning to form.

This brings us to the other side of the Van Rhijn estate in the servant's quarters. Peggy Scott can be found going back and forth from this area to the main areas where the Brook's roam... so you get to see both sides as well as interactions and situations that involve other members of the cast. Luckily the "Man Bad" vibe dissipated among the multiple demeanors in the home.

One of the women working for the Brooks changed that because she couldn't hide her racism against Peggy, while the Bannister (a man) put her in her place at every turn.

Mrs. (Karen) Armstrong's a miserable woman, and you can see her being a hater to others as well. I think her ways are served up just to show how stupid they are, especially when swatted down by the Bannister.

Even Mrs. Bauer also put her in her place. I'll save Mrs. Bauer's story for you to check out, but the look on Peggy's face at one point was like... "WTH is going on with you?". I would say that Marian gets to navigate as freely as Peggy, but she has parameters, so Peggy gets to see and interact with others a bit more (whether good or bad).

These are multiple cogs with multiple demeanors... moving under the same roof (for the most part) in the direction Agnes needs them to move, while across the street the same can be said about team Russel who are moving in another direction.

It's the Brooks vs The Russells trying to break social customs, and Bertha Russel wants to try and force people to welcome her with open arms to basically tear down their way of life. Mrs. Russell is nuts, and both her and her husband (George Russell) are relentless. When you take a step back, Bertha runs their household... and George brings in the money if she doesn't like something... he takes action but I did notice something off with them as far as the writing. He went from marching to her drum and being shut down because of what she prefers, to them almost having this flip, to them leveling out and then back again where he aims to punish those who won't bend to his wife's desires.

I don't care for Bertha or George (although some situations were more so backfire to his adversaries). Even their own daughter Gladys doesn't care for Bertha because she keeps her in a box, and you will even find disapproval from members of their staff who feel like she's doing too much. I know she wants to be accepted, and (I give her credit) she did try to do something that her husband thwarted... which didn't help the situation but they could've gone in a different direction. It is a show though, so I tried to keep that in mind. I'll leave it there so that I'm not dropping any spoilers (I cut nearly 500 words out), but you can expect a second season.

Visuals: Visuals are clean and they threw a good combination of shots in there to showcase variety while presenting fashion, and decor from the time. Medium shots were the majority, but you had some low angles, over-the-shoulder shots, eye level, and even reflective shots where it wasn't directly on the characters but... showed their reflection. There were plenty of others to enjoy in season one, but these are some examples. 

Audio: Audio is served up in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround... and got the job done well (especially on surround sound). The Gilded Age takes place in a busy location, so surround sound helps increase the experience through immersion compared to standard stereo.

Price + Extras: Pricewise, The Gilded Age: The Complete First Season... gallops in at $24.98 on DVD (3 Disc set). Not sure why this doesn't have a Blu-Ray version... but... never the less you get the hook up for less... here. Even at $25, I think the price would be shrugged off because you get 540 minutes of solid, witty action that you may be tempted to binge-watch from beginning to end.

Extras include (avoid spoilers by watching these after):

All That Glitters: Creating The Gilded Age (DVD Exclusive)

Old Money vs New: The Heart of the Matter

Who's Who Featurettes

Invitation To Set

Carrie Coon BTS

Writing Peggy

Inside the Episodes

Story 5

Visuals 5

Audio 5

Price + Extras 5

5 out of 5 Cool Points

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