For six seasons I've enjoyed spending Sunday nights at Downton Abbey. It's been a long time since I've felt so invested in a show ... but from the first episode Downton Abbey was pure perfection.
Here are a few things I loved most about the series (spoilers ahead - read after viewing the finale!):
At its heart, Downton Abbey is a family saga. I love a big, sprawling, old fashioned family saga, whether it is on TV (Upstairs-Downstairs) or in book form (the Jalna series by Mazo de la Roche). It is fascinating seeing a family change over the years, as life and history unfolds around them.
I loved Mary and Matthew's romance, from the very slow reluctant beginnings to the so perfect proposal in the snow. Matthew made Mary warmer and more human. When Matthew died, I wondered how Mary would go on ... and enjoyed seeing her eventually come back to life as an independent woman pursuing love, and finally finding it again with Henry Talbot.
I also loved Sybil and Tom's surprising romance. They met when he was a chauffeur to the family, and she was the crusading, free thinking Crawley daughter. There was a sweetness and a mutual respect about their relationship that I loved.
And Tom Branson? My favorite character. He was somewhere between the servants and the aristocratic Crawley family. Seeing him experience life at the estate was a unique way to experience it as a viewer. Plus, he was warm, kind, and handsome. Definitely my favorite. (And I liked the sparks that flew in the finale with Edith's editor, Laura Edmunds -- she seems like a wonderful potential match for Tom.)
I loved the very slow and tentative romance between Mrs. Hughes and Carson, from the moment they held hands at the beach through his proposal, their lovely wedding, and the way they settled in as a married couple. Even when Carson was curmudgeonly, I pulled for them!
Molesley! I never thought I would say it, but I absolutely loved Molesley. He was a bumbling character at first, but he was kind and smart, and slowly found a way to pursue his dreams of being a teacher.
I oohed and aahed the Christmas episodes with the beauty and splendor of the big tree, and the glimpses of holiday life.
I enjoyed Edith's search for love, with all her stumbles, with interest in the wrong man (more than once - oh, how I related to that!). Edith was a prickly character, and (much like Mary) not always likable ... but I wanted her to find happiness. I was so glad when this finally happened in the finale!
I liked the feisty Daisy, who went into service as a very young girl but found a family with her father-in-law Mr. Mason, and surrogate mother figure, Mrs. Patmore. When Daisy studied and her pursued her education, I cheered. She was such a human character, who would take a few steps forward, and then back ... but things finally seemed to be falling into place for Daisy in the finale.
I admired the warm, loving relationship between Robert and Cora, even when scenes broke my heart a bit (like their last night with beloved dog Isis, or Robert's reaching out to Cora when his ulcer burst).
And of course I loved the Dowager Countess, with her sharp, insightful wit, and her weekly memorable lines. My favorite: "Vulgarity is no substitute for wit."
The finale was just perfect. I love the way the series ended with "Auld Lang Syne" and the sense that life would go on for these characters long after the show ended.
So Downton Abbey, Crawley family, downstairs staff, I raise my cup of tea to you. Thank you!
If you have enjoyed Downton Abbey too, what were your favorites from the show? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.