According to PBS Chief Paula Kerger, the end might be nigh for Downton Abbey. That’s right you Anglophiles and lovers of fancy things, you might have to start getting your fix of aristocracy, intrigue, and giant hats elsewhere after Season 6. As it stands, the series writer and creator Julian Fellowes is contracted to go as far as a sixth season, however, according to Kerger, “We are not yet going beyond that[.]” Though she did not confirm or deny whether Season 6 would be the final for the popular PBS drama, it would be highly probably as Fellowes is currently developing a brand-new primetime series for NBC called Gilded Age. NBC’s Chairman Bob Greenblatt recently commented in a press tour, “Hopefully this show will be coming to life sometime in the next season.”
With so much on the horizon for Fellowes and without a contract (yet) for more than six seasons, the end of Downton might be sooner than we all thought. As much as it pains me to think of a world without the Dowager Countess, it may actually be the best decision for the show. Six seasons is a solid run and it’s long enough to be established and wholly developed without being so long that it loses its luster. I like to call that the HBO model — nipping a show when it is still beloved and churning out great episodes.
Sure, fans will miss their favorite series, but it’s better than watching the characters you know and love die a slow, unnecessarily painful death (I’m looking at you, How I Met Your Mother, Weeds, and The Office). In the historical timeline of the show, Downton Abbey is inching towards an era when traditional British aristocracy, servants quarters, and “high society” changes drastically…or disappears completely. We’ve already started to see the Crawleys struggle to acquiesce to modernism and keep their farm alive as the times are a-changin’ around them. Downton Abbey without all of its pomp and circumstance wouldn’t be Downton Abbey. It might be best to end the show before it loses the reason we all started tuning in. Not that a show can’t evolve with the times its presenting (Mad Men), but its established universe can’t completely collapse, either.
As much as I would love to listen to Mrs. Hughes’ guide to life day in, and day out, all truly good shows must come to an end before they jump the proverbial shark, or in Downton’s case, more likely a pig.