“With Downton Abbey in the middle of filming its final run of episodes, the creators and some of the stars traveled to Los Angeles over the weekend to attend a panel discussion that gave fans a short glimpse of the upcoming sixth season, and a chance to discuss the show’s recent season. Held at the Writer’s Guid Theater in Beverly Hills, Series co-creator and writer Julian Fellowes, Executive Producer Gareth Neame, and stars Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Laura Carmichael were in attendence.
The panel touched on a number of topics, from the way Dan Stevens’ departure at the end of season three impacted the writing, to working with Maggie Smith, and the way the show itself came together. But the discussion touched in interesting ways on howDowntown Abbey explores social themes. The show is known more for soap opera tribulations, its broad strokes look at old style British aristocracy, and tory-tinted view of class divisions during the 1910s and 20s, which makes much sense, given that Fellowes is a conservative member of the House of Lords. But despite what one might expect given Fellowes’ political affiliation, and whether or not he’d characterize it as such, as Fellowes explained during the panel, the show’s outlook could be described as decidedly feminist.
First explaining his interest in depicting the emotional lives of characters across all ages – “I like that… pretty well every human being has an emotional life going on on some level or another,” he talked frankly about how Hollywood tends to treat people who age, particularly women. “In movieland, everyone stops being a sexual being at about 32, at least for women,” Fellowes said. “[And yet] the men are allowed to go on until they’re 78, I’ve never worked that out…”