From "Downton Abbey" to "Mad Men": TV series as the privileged format for transition eras

Marie Maillos

Abstract


On each side of the Atlantic, the Downton Abbey and Mad Men shows have contributed to the transformation of the period drama genre on television: instead of being set in a single precise era, they take place over periods of historical transition, genuine intervals that are full of contrasts and confrontations and even propel the narrative forward. This new approach to time periods results as much from the TV series format as from its mass medium nature: on the one hand, these shows use the apparent invariability required by the serial form to reveal by contrast the transition at work and provide the narrative with the necessary conflict; on the other hand, through their depictions of transitional eras, they offer a commentary on our contemporary period, a characteristic device of television series. Therefore, both shows, notwithstanding their differences in themes, locations and craftmanship, play a part in making the transition period drama become a serial genre in its own right.

Keywords


Transition eras; Downton Abbey; Mad Men; period drama; costume drama

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-454X/6161

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Copyright (c) 2016 Marie Maillos

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