If you’ve been missing the Crawley family, fret no more.
“Downton Abbey,” the hit series from PBS, returns Sunday.
And the word “hit” is an understatement. Debuting in January 2011, audiences for the early 20th century, England-set drama have continued to swell, with Season 4 drawing an average audience of 13.2 million viewers, making it the top PBS drama of all time and one of the highest-rated dramas now on American television, according to PBS.
Paula Kerger, PBS president and CEO, says “Downton’s” popularity lies in its story.
“At its heart, television is about storytelling, and ‘Downton Abbey’ is certainly storytelling at its finest. ‘Downton Abbey’ and the Crawley family have kept us on the edge of our seats as they navigate through some of the biggest moments of the 20th century,” Kerger says in a news release.
This season, fans can look forward to following plot threads left hanging last season, including Lady Mary’s courtship contest, Lady Edith’s trials as a secret single mom, Thomas’ scheming against Bates, Robert’s battles against modernity, Tom’s quest to be true to his ideals, Violet’s one-line zingers, and more.
Season 5 opens in 1924. The United Kingdom has its first Labor Party prime minister, while the radio is the latest miracle of the age. Changing times are picking away at Downton’s traditional ways from all sides and meeting resistance, as is evidenced in this exchange between the head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, and the butler, Mr. Carson.
“We’re catching up, Mr. Carson. Whether you like it or not, Downton is catching up with the times we live in,” says the forward-thinking Mrs. Hughes.
“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of!” the butler retorts.
As viewers soak in season 5, season 6 will already be in production, PBS recently announced.
So viewers will have the Crawleys around for a while.