We Can Do It: The Ladies are Taking Charge on ‘Downton Abbey’

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Downton Abbey is entering a new era, and with it, a female-centric attitude.

Season five of the PBS powerhouse is set to debut stateside in January 2015, and unlike past seasons of the show, this one will follow the Crawley clan as they exit the post-Edwardian era and enter the Roaring Twenties, where its female cast emerges in more powerful roles. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the winter premiere will address “the aftermath of the Russian revolution and the U.K.’s first socialist government,” while Lady Mary, Lady Rose MacClare, Daisy Mason, and Sarah Bunting evolve with society’s changing stance on gender roles.

“Things are cooking for Lady Mary,” actress Michelle Dockery said in a roundtable with THR. “It’s been an exciting series because she’s having much more fun, she’s moving forward with her life. She’s really taking on the responsibility of the state and the relationship between her and Robert is starting to change. He’s seeing that she can handle it all.” While Lady Mary regains a sense of normalcy following the death of her husband Matthew, Lily James and Daisy Lewis’ alter egos are taking a more aggressive approach.

“This character is challenging the status quo and attempting to fight back on every front, which is what makes her interesting,” said Lewis of Sarah Bunting, a progressive teacher first introduced last year. Meanwhile, she’s encouraging Crawley maid Daisy Mason (Sophie McShera) to adopt a more aspirational mindset and get out of the kitchen.

Though these advances are certain to draw disdain from Downton’s patriarchal airs, there is one man, in particular, who is combating it in extensive form: butler Mr. Carson.

“Carson’s mantra is you’ve got to know your place and be happy in your place,” said Emmy-nominated star Jim Carter. “So he doesn’t approve of that at all and as the series goes on we’ll see him become more and more riled, until there’s an explosion at the end.”

Cue the popcorn.