After six seasons, fans of the British period drama Downton Abbey paid farewell to their favorite characters. The two-hour series finale aired last night with many viewers tweeting their sad goodbyes.

Unexpected Success in Common Hours

More than just a period piece about British aristocrats, Downton Abbey became a surprise cultural hit. Since its US debut in 2011, the award-winning dramatic series has been the highest rated cable or broadcast show, reaching 12.3 million viewers and becoming the most popular drama in the history of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Hollywood Celebrities like Sean “P Diddy” Combs claim to be “Abbey head.” A show knows that it has arrived when even the Simpsons make a parody. Even late night talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert did his own Breaking Bad version.

But What Made Downton Abbey So Popular?

Some point out past television shows that captured American viewers’ fascination with the wealthy in watching prime-time soaps, such as Dynasty or Dallas. Others cite fascination and nostalgia with the cultural and class system of a post-Victorian era.

But in the end series creator Julian Fellowes, who wrote all 52 episodes, told the New York Times, “I think most of the stories are about emotional situations that everyone can understand,”.

American director Michael Engler, who shot the finale, said that he was surprised to have the opportunity to work with the show. He pointed out, “In the States, we always have this feeling that anyone can do anything or become anyone, so for Americans, it’s really interesting to see how character is defined in relation to the limitations or opportunities that you have in a highly stratified society.

In the U.K., I’m aware of real assumptions about class.”

What Does the Future Look Like for Downton Abbey

Certainly, shows like the Star Trek television series gained a strong following even after they went off the air to inspire movies. Others like the action drama 24 have spun off mini-series. So, there’s already been talk about Downton Abbey on the big screen.

“If we had gone to a season 7 or 8 we would have taken it that much further,” said the series writer.

“There’s speculation about whether we’ll ever make a Downton movie, we might, but there are no firm plans. But it means there’s a lot of rich [remaining] territory.”

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