Downton Abbey has a hidden class appeal to Americans

January 4, 2015 4:14 PM

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Something rather remarkable is about to happen tonight. Across the US, millions of Americans will go from watching a rib-crunching NFL playoff matchup to a highly mannered, early 20th-century soap opera following the fortunes of a fictitious family of English aristocrats and the gaggle of servants tethered to it.

There have been any number of attempts to explain the surprise success of Downton Abbey, the Emmy-award winning costume drama from the UK commercial network ITV, which will have the stateside premiere of its fifth season tonight as part of the PBS series Masterpiece.

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