As a Downton Abbey reviewer, there’s been a Maggie Smith sized hole in my heart since the last episode. Where was I supposed to go for the understated quip? Who was going to fend off handsome suitors and roll around with pigs? Would anyone ever be as stupid as Robert Crawley? I took to Netflix to try and find a suitable British replacement and Forsyte Saga did not disappointment. For all the anglophiles out there in need of a good costume drama, I give you the reasons to check it out:
Somber sort of depressing song at the end of every episode
I love the pretentious opening to Downton Abbey with the dog running through the grounds as an orchestra plays. Then we get a shot of the bell ringing downstairs, reminding us of the sad little lives of the underclass. In Forsyte Saga we don’t get a sweeping theme song but a slit your wrist style operatic song about life being a joke. Yep, this show doesn’t mess around.
Non terrorist, equally creepy Damien Lewis
Hey, look at that. It’s Sergeant Brody romping around England with a British accent, looking all rich and dignified. In real life Damien Lewis is actually British and even though he’s a handsome dude he plays President of the Creepy McCreepster club on this series. His character is a solicitor named Soames even though I’m unconvinced that’s a real name. Soames’ life is caught between his wealth and his lack of compassion for other people. If he was poor and treated everyone horribly, he’d likely be out of a job and wanting for companionship. But Soames is as wealthy as they come and just can’t figure out why everyone hates him. Watch this series to see Soames learn the painful lesson that you can’t force anyone to love you.
Some of the handsome men don’t die
I know you just stopped mourning the death of Matthew and you’re not quite ready to put yourself out there again. Trust me that you can safely develop a crush on Jolyon Forsyte with the knowledge that he won’t rip your heart out. This is the guy to watch, ladies and gentleman. He’s creepy Soames’ brother and he pisses off his entire family by refusing to stay married to a frumpy English lady. He runs off in a blaze of passion with the nanny and finds a way to lead an honest and happy life. Don’t let his calm demeanor fool you; he’s also quite romantic and charming. Stay focused on Jolyon and you won’t be upset by all of the other scandalous things that happen on this show.
Scenes more shocking than Ana’s rape
There’s Ned Stark’s beheading, the hatch on Lost and all of the things that I’m tangentially aware of that happen on Breaking Bad. Those are the plot points that give you a cheap shot to the gut when you thought your heart could relax a little watching television. But brace yourself for this show’s heroine, Irene, who is forced to endure the greatest punishments of life. And unlike Ana, she doesn’t have a Mr. Bates waiting in the wings to swoop in and save her.
Servants that actually behave like servants
My biggest beef with Downton is the portrayal of the servants. The ladies maids and kitchen staff have the freedom to speak their mind to the Crawleys. They also butt in, even when they’re not wanted. On Forstye Saga, servants are painfully aware of their place in life. Say, for instance, their master does something completely abhorrent – well they just have to stay quiet about it. Their accurate portrayal of the working class life makes this show even more heartbreaking.
Jenni Wright lives in Los Angeles and if she had a depressing theme song it would be “Mad World.”