The gilded age

Americans are as class-obsessed as the British

The ‘American Downton’ has just hit our screens in the form of The Gilded Age on HBO, a busty, curtain-heavy romp through the moneyed boudoirs of late nineteenth-century New York starring Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski. Written by Julian Fellowes, the man who has done more PR for the upper classes than the Windsors could ever dream of, the drama sets its sights on that most nebulous of concepts, American aristocracy. But wait, they don’t have an aristocracy, I hear you cry. Oh but they do, retorts Fellowes. Just look at all the upstairs downstairs drama, sudden destitution of young fatherless women a la Sense and Sensibility, and bitchy sniping in earshot