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'Downton Abbey': The best of season 1

For the past five and a half years, I’ve been a Downton Abbey outsider. I’ve had to watch and listen to pretty much everyone else in what feels like the entire world bond over the triumphs and tragedies of the family they all seem to be surrogate members of. I’d like to say I’ve been envious, but to be honest, I haven’t. Despite the feeling of exclusion, I somehow never felt the desire to join the party and drink the Kool-Aid (or fine wine)—no matter how many shocking storylines made the world (and the critics) buzz, how impressive that mansion was, or how lovely their accents are to listen to.

But then, about a month after the final episode aired, after the party was over and everyone had moved on to something else, I decided to show up. Typical.

DA defeatest gif

To say I’m hooked—three seasons in, so no season four, five, or six spoilers, please!—seems much too insignificant of a description. I’m consumed by every part of this show, from the colorful characters downstairs to the regal, oftentimes disparate ones upstairs. But mostly, I’m captivated by the relationships between both.

Since being tardy to the party never stopped me from barging in before, and because I know there are many of you who still haven’t been successfully Downton-detoxed, here’s my list of the best and most shocking moments of season one, as well as some dynamic duos. Make sure to chime in below to let me know your thoughts (or hit me up @urmyfavetoday), and don’t forget to check back in the coming weeks for posts on upcoming seasons. But TBH, I’m still emotionally wrecked from the events of season three, so it might be a while.

Mary “spoils herself” before marriage

Mary and Turkish diplomat in bed

Maybe it’s because she was so done with everyone telling her who she had to marry, maybe it was in retaliation for learning that her inheritance was in grave jeopardy, or maybe it was simply the undeniably smoldering sexiness and persistent seduction of Turkish diplomat Kemal Pamuk that finally brought Mary down (ba-dum bum). Whatever it was, Mary easily became powerless to his charms and quickly threw all her highbrow respectability out the window when he showed up in her bedroom. I mean, really, can you blame her?

Downton Abbey Turkish Diplomat

Dead in the bed
Whether you take it as a testament to Mary’s prowess in the bedroom or just a weak heart, the fact remains that shortly after wrecking her (virtue—wrecking her virtue!), the dashing Turkish diplomat died in her bed. HER BED OF SIN. Panicked at the thought of her immorality being discovered—not to mention the naked dead guy in her bedroom—Mary has her faithful servant Anna (and her sweet but incredibly dull mother) help her drag him back to his own room, which sets off a chain of ramifications for poor, ruined Mary that are to last all season long.

Mary, Anna, and Cora move the dead Turkish diplomat

The Dowager Countess’ surprising act
My favorite character on Downton—and probably yours as well—is Grand-mama Violet. Her spunk, wry wit, and biting opinions are everything.

Dowager Countess, Downton Abbey

However, it was the unexpected humanity that she showed to Bill Molesley at the Downton flower show (episode five) that made Violet a little bit more rounded. Do I want her to change into a totally giving, selfless person? Absolutely not, but it was nice to see that there actually is a bit of water under all that delicious ice, which I suspected all along.

Crawley daughter MVP
Right away it becomes clear that of the Crawley girls, Mary is the most popular, and the proper hope for the family’s future (even after the unspeakable incident with Pamuk). Edith is the poor, unfortunate, preordained spinster (seriously, give that girl a break and a better hairstyle already). And Sybil is the young, fiery independent who immediately shakes things up with her radical feminist views. From helping one of the maids realize her dream of becoming a secretary (you do you, girl), to wearing—gasp!—pants, to falling for the—double gasp!—chauffeur, Sybil is the Crawley daughter who bucks tradition and lives life truthfully, and who doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks of it.

Sybil wears pants - Downton Abbey

The Grantham heir disaster
When Cora discovers she’s pregnant, things get complicated, not only for the Downton heir situation, but for Matthew and Mary’s relationship as well. However, after mistakenly believing that Cora is having her replaced, the nasty, scheming O’Brien places a bar of soap outside her ladyship’s bath, causing her to fall and lose the baby, which was a boy after all. Noooooo!!

Screenshot 2016-04-15 10.43.03

Dynamic duos of season one

Mary and Edith: Sure, they’re awful and spiteful to each other, and take sibling rivalry to a whole new level, but it sure is fun to watch.

Bates and Anna: Think what you will about their age difference (it took me a while to get used to it), but their instantaneous and intense love for each other is nothing but pure, even if you can’t understand what he’s saying most of the time.

Thomas and O’Brien: Calculating and duplicitous, these two bullies are nothing but trouble … which makes them so much fun to watch, no matter how much you want them to get what they deserve (or how much you want to cut off O’Brien’s random curls over her forehead).

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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