Julian Fellowes’ new HBO period drama The Gilded Age a hit with fans in the US - How to watch

Julian Fellowes’s new period drama, The Gilded Age, has returned for its second season on HBO.

Starring Louisa Jacobson as young Marian Brook, who’s just moved from rural Pennsylvania to live with her aunts Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon) in New York, the show follows Marian as she’s exposed to a new world on the brink of the modern age.

Set in the late 1800s, the series has been billed as the “American Downton Abbey” – Fellowes was, of course, the writer and creator behind the ITV aristocracy drama.

In Ed Cumming’s three-star review of the first season for The Independent, he described it as being “as lavish and watchable as you’d expect – but lacking the humour and charm of its predecessor”.

Meanwhile, audience figures for the show have boomed to 3.4 million viewers across all HBO platforms, besting The White Lotus at the same point of its run, according to Deadline

How and when to watch

The eight-episode season two of The Gilded Age premiered on Sunday 29 October on Max in the US, and will continue airing weekly in the streamer’s coveted Sunday spot. UK viewers will be able to tune into each new episode the Monday after on NOW and Sky Atlantic.

Blake Ritson and Kelli O’Hara in ‘The Gilded Age’ (Barbara Nitke/HBO)
Blake Ritson and Kelli O’Hara in ‘The Gilded Age’ (Barbara Nitke/HBO)

What is season two be about?

“Season two of The Gilded Age begins on Easter morning 1883, with the news that Bertha Russell's (Carrie Coon) bid for a box at the Academy of Music has been rejected,” reads an official logline. “Through the eight episodes of the season, we watch as Bertha challenges Mrs Astor (Donna Murphy) and the old system and works to not only gain a foothold in Society, but to potentially take a leading role in it.”

It continues: “George Russell (Morgan Spector) takes on his own battle with a growing union at his steel plant in Pittsburgh. In the Brook House, Marian continues her journey to find her way in the world secretly teaching at a girls school while much to everyone’s surprise Ada begins a new courtship. Of course, Agnes approves of none of it. In Brooklyn, the Scott family begins to heal from a shocking discovery, and Peggy taps into her activist spirit through her work with T Thomas Fortune (Sullivan Jones) at the NY Globe.”

Returning cast

Jacobson (Marian Brook), Denée Benton (Peggy Scott), Baranski (Agnes Van Rhijn), Nixon (Ada Brook), Carrie Coon (Bertha Russell), Morgan Spector (George Russell), Harry Richardson (Larry Russell), Blake Ritson (Oscar Van Rhijn), Taissa Farmiga (Gladys Russell), Simon Jones (Bannister) and Jack Gilpin (Church) have all returned this season.

While Taylor Richardson (Bridget), Donna Murphy (Mrs Astor), Debra Monk (Armstrong), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Mrs Bruce), Erin Wilhelmi (Adelheid Weber), Patrick Page (Richard Claym), Kristine Nielsen (Mrs Bauer), Sullivan Jones (T Thomas Fortune), Ben Ahlers (Jack Trotter), Kelley Curran (Turner), Kelli O’Hara (Aurora Fane), Douglas Sills (Baudi) and Michael Cerveris (Watson) have been made series regulars.

Read here to find an in-depth explainer of who’s who in the cast.

New cast

There are a number of new faces who have joined this season, including Younger’s Laura Benanti, Robert Sean Leonard (House), Nicole Brydon Bloom, Michael Braugher, Christopher Denham, Dakin Matthews, Matilda Lawler, Ben Lamb, David Furr and Rebecca Haden.

Who isn’t returning for season two?

Thomas Cocquerel, who starred as Tom Raikes, Marian’s lover for a major part of season one, will not be returning. This may be heartbreaking to fans who were rooting for Tom and Marian, but given that their relationship crumbled during the season one finale, Cocquerel’s absence in season two won’t come as a surprise.