Carrie Coon, left, and Morgan Spector in “The Gilded Age” 2022. IMDb photo

So here it is today on HBO, in our own era of social upheaval.

No fan of costumed events, I reluctantly sat through every episode of Julian Fellowes’s, Michael Engler’s and Salli Richardson-Whitfields’s lavish and expensive production, in order to have a review for you this morning.

I won’t run down each chapter because Fellowes’ (“Downton Abbey) is a household name.

The sexist pig in me thought it a “women’s” show. Two or three episodes into it, and my feminine nature took over.

Christine Baranski’s (“The Good Wife”) face is part of the ads on screen. I first saw her in two Off-Broadway plays. I’m not a big fan, but she’s perfect for the super snobby Agnes van Rhijin.

However, I was surprised when, by the last episode, Christine won me over as did Carrie Coon (“The Leftovers,” “Fargo”) who gives us here an impeccable performance as Bertha Russell, the Lady Macbeth of Fifth Avenue.

Advertisement

Morgan Spector plays her Macbeth (“Allegiance”) and he keeps getting better. His Robber Baron George Russell is the fabulous chandelier in “Gilded Age,” under which all others waltz, genuflect and fear. For this, he is perfectly tailored.

I immediately fell in love with Denee Benton’s “Peggy Scott.” (Benton assumed the role of Eliza Hamilton in the Broadway production of “Hamilton.”) She’ll be back in the next season of “Gilded Age” with blood in her eye.

And OMG, is that the great actor singer Audra McDonald, a Broadway Tony Award winner, as Denee’s mother? It certainly is.

Broadway’s two-time Tony winner Donna Murphy appears as history’s Caroline Astor.

Cynthia Nixon of the “Sex and the City” group just glows in the dark as Ada Brook.

And then there are the centerpiece lovers, Tom (Thomas Cocquerel) and Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) you had pinned your hopes on. Oh my.

Advertisement

Didn’t Marian read Henry James’ “Washington Square?” Tom even looks like Montgomery Clift.

I never fell in love with Marian. Anyone that glassy-eyed dumb deserves what she gets.

And here’s the casting gem of the year. The impeccable Nathan Lane (“Only Murders in the Building,” “The Producers” and countless others) plays Ward McCallister, the pre-Truman Capote, who befriended Mrs. Astor, and who created the famous “400.” A list of the best in society of that age. Lane is reason enough to attend this feast.

I leave you with this. The final episode gives us what we want with a full dress, six trillion buck blast.

The screen is full of men in black-and-white adornment, and women in color and lace, buttons and bows, ribbons and peacock feathers, dancing a final waltz to the music from an orchestra seemingly on loan from the the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

It was a great era if you were rich, much as ours is today. Isn’t that true?

“The Gilded Age” streams on HBO and season two will be back sometime in 2023.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

filed under: