The Gilded Age Is Only Watchable as a Period Soap Opera

The Gilded Age Is Only Watchable as a Period Soap Opera
Image credit: HBO

Could George Russell be the next Sonny Corinthos?


  • The Gilded Age is HBO's period drama series that focuses on life in New York society in the late 1800s.
  • Though beautifully shot, the series is family-friendly and relatively low-stakes for an HBO production.
  • Some people believe that it makes The Gilded Age look like a soap opera set in the 19th century.

When you hear the name HBO, a certain image comes to mind. Whether it is Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, or Succession, they are all united by a brutally honest portrayal of violence and cruelty. Whether it's a fictional fantasy world or the real world, HBO is not afraid to make its viewers squirm in disgust.

The Gilded Age, on the other hand, is a very different story. Created by the mastermind behind The Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, the show is slow paced and low stakes, with no scenes too graphic. And that is exactly why viewers seem to enjoy it so much.

However, the lack of gore and blood doesn't mean that there is no drama. The battle between the worlds of Old Money and New Money as they collide is just as tense as the battle for the Iron Throne. And when you think about it, there is no good or bad side to root for.

Is Bertha Russell a Villain?

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People tend to be interested in a thoroughly written antagonist in every single piece of media, this idea in itself isn't outstanding in any way. However, it's always the soap operas that allow their characters to do the worst things imaginable and still get away with it while remaining widely popular.

The point about the characters being likable only through the thick prism of the Gilded Age being fictional was made by Redditor Drwanderer on the r/thegildedage subreddit when the discussion of the Russell family came up.

“I dislike the Russels for the very reason that they are overly likeable. He's a robber baron. He would've been even more ruthless than what the show allows him to be. Imho every single character in The Gilded Age is two dimensional. They are great soap opera characters, but when you try to look at them with historical eyes, they all fall apart instantly.”

Both George and Bertha Russell are in a very gray area of morality. While they are both capable of acting like good people and at least loving each other, they have done enough to prove that they are not so nice. George's success is built on the blood and sweat of poor workers, and Bertha's schemes go so far as to sell her own daughter.

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If that's not a sign of a soap-opera souper couple, we don't know what is. Even though the entire conflict of the show revolves around historical change, The Gilded Age is already on its way to becoming a great soap. Just think, there was even a stolen baby twist.

Soap opera or not, the best thing about The Gilded Age is how entertaining the show is. So if you are interested in tuning into the upcoming third season of the show, be sure to keep an eye out to be the first to find out the release date.

Source: Reddit