100 Important Things To Know About Season 1 of ‘Downton Abbey'Kate Spencer

Downton Abbey has replaced Breaking Bad, The Wire and Mad Men as the show people are appalled to learn you aren’t watching. Surely someone in your life has gotten way up in your personal space and shouted with disgust, “You haven’t seen Downton Abbey yet? HOW have you not seen Downton Abbey yet?!” And while I too am shocked – in a loving way, of course – that you haven’t seen it, never fear! The second season is about to start on PBS this Sunday, January 8th and you can watch the entire first season on their site or on Netflix Streaming. But if you don’t have the time to devote to the GREATEST SHOW EVER MADE OMG, I am here to help you out.

I’ll be recapping Season 2 here on Hello Giggles, and I’ve got the 100 Most Important Things to Know About Season 1 of Downton Abbey below to help you catch up. Even if you’re a Downton addict, my list will surely reignite your love for the show with a passion stronger than that with which Edith hates Mary. And we all know Edith hates Mary. A LOT.

Let’s get down(ton) to business! [Yep, I went there.]

1. Downton Abbey is a really big house in the British countryside.
2. It is filled with servants.
3. Mr. Carson is the Santa-shaped butler who loves his job. He was once the George Clooney of vaudeville but he’s ashamed of his performing past so it’s best just to act like you don’t know anything.
4. Mrs. Hughes is the housekeeper who chose her work over getting back together with an ex.
5. Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes should totally GET IT ON, if only because they share the same bond of loving their jobs over everything else in their lives. That’s something, right?
6. Downton Abbey is also filled with the aristocratic Crawley Family.
7. Mrs. Cora Crawley is American and comes from a family with a butt-load of money. She talks with an accent that can only be described as “Edwardian Madonna”.
8. Mr. Crawley married her for her cash but then they fell in love after they wed, which is something that never really happens, so good for them!
9. Her Ladyship (Mrs. Crawley) knows this, but she’s cool with it. She’s OG like that.
10. Downton Abbey has been in His Lordship’s (Mr. Crawley) family for a bajillion years.
11. The house and the inheritance is tied up in an entail that must go the Mr. Crawley’s next male heir.
12. The Crawleys have three daughters. Oops.
13. Mary is the oldest and is good at moping and being beautiful. All the men folk love her. She suffers from that thing rich kids get where they’re unhappy and unfulfilled because they’ve never had to work for anything and thus have no sense of self.
14. Edith is the middle daughter and bears a striking resemblance to George Washington. She is the Jan Brady to Mary’s Marcia.
15. Sybil is the youngest daughter in the family. She has a brain that she uses to form opinions about things like the suffragette movement and women’s right to wear pants.
16. Mary was engaged to Patrick, the son of her father’s first cousin.
17. Patrick was the male heir to Downton and its fortune.
18. Patrick died on the Titanic, along with his father.
19. =(
20. Mary wasn’t in love with Patrick, so she’s kind of relieved that she’s now free from that ish.
21. She’s like so not into mourning fashion, either.
22. Edith was in love with Patrick and his death devastates her.
23. Did we mention Edith hates Mary? Like, a lot.
24. Patrick’s death means the inheritance and the house now go to a third cousin, Mr. Matthew Crawley.
25. This news freaks everyone out, including their devoted servant army, because they’re all like, “Who the eff is this Matthew guy and what is he going to do to our giant house?”
26. His Lordship’s mother, the Dowager Countess, comes in to regulate the situation.
27. She is an HBIC who wears a cloak like nobody’s business.
28. During this time his Lordship also acquires a new valet named Mr. Bates.
29. A valet is pretty much like a personal assistant, but old school style. They help you get your clothes on and refresh the biscuit jar beside your bed and listen to you complain about your obscenely privileged life.
30. Also British peeps pronounce valet with a hard “t”. Who knew?
31. Despite being kinda pudgy and old, Mr. Bates is way handsome and lovely and sweet and quiet and humble and did I mention I love Mr. Bates?
32. Mr. Bates is also crippled from the African War (I think this is the Boer War? Historians? Anyone?) and walks with a cane. But don’t let it get you down – he doesn’t.
33. Except for that one episode, where he tries to fix it by wearing a painful contraption that slices into his sweet, pasty British skin.
34. MOVING ON…
35. Thomas, the smoldering, sexy footman, wanted that valet position.
36. He goes out of his way to destroy Mr. Bates’ reputation around the estate.
37. (He also has an affair with the Duke of Crowborough, who visits Downton to court Mary. Smexy!)
38. He does this with the help of O’Brien, Mrs. Crawley’s maid and resident crazy lady with weird sideburns.
39. They try to frame him as a thief a couple of times, but Bates manages to foil their plans with the help of Anna, the hot head house maid.
40. Anna loves Mr. Bates.
41. Mr. Bates loves Anna.
42. Mr. Bates is also a recovering alcoholic with a wife and a PAST, and he carries a lot of shame about this. Poor guy.
43. Anna shares a room with Gwen, a maid who secretly teaches herself to type.
44. She eventually lands a secretary gig with Sybil’s help. Girl power, 1916 style!
45. Sybil is all about rejecting aristocracy and giving the finger to the class system. Badass.
46. She’s also all about the family chauffeur, Bronson, who is a politically active hunk.
47. Meanwhile, Mary is mostly obsessed with moping and men.
48. She takes a lover, a Turkish dignitary with killer hair named Mr. Pamuk, who visits Downton with his friend Mr. Napier, who is courting Mary.
49. After much flirting, Mr. Pamuk sneaks into Mary’s room with the help of Thomas the footman.

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  1. Thanks! Now that I’m caught up, I can totally watch the first however-many episodes of Season 2 I have on my DVR but was too intimidated to watch b/c I was afraid I wouldn’t know what was going on!!

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  3. The most accurate summary ever!! I Love HG and DA!!!

  4. I was hoping that the actors who play Mary and Matthew was dating :( I still have hope.

  5. I just started watching it on Netflix today based off of your article! The whole time I’m like: Yes! Mary IS mopey and SO not into mourning fashion! OMG Mr. Bates IS so sweet! lol thanks for the recommend! I am loving it! :-D

  6. I LOVE THIS SHOW! I’m going over to my bff’s place to watch it tonight. Freaking nerds, we are.

  7. LOve this show.I can’t stop talking about it. Ps- you must give the show a try at leat until third episode. everything happens in the third episode.

  8. Most FAVORITE show. Started as a mother-daughter special bonding ritual, like when we used to watch The Gilmore Girls, and now the whole family is hooked (including extended family). MUST WATCH, BIDDIES. Great article!

  9. Just started watching today and already 4 hours and 4 episodes have passed in a blink. I LOVE MR.BATES!!

  10. Okay your whole thing with Pamuk was funny. “Let’s bone,” and they did. Hilarious. Now I have to go find Matthew stewing, because you intrigued me to see the extra drool-worthy performance.

  11. Maggie Smith is made of so much win. I love her and her character. She gets all the best lines. “What is a week-end?” I also love Matthew. Mary is an idiot. Matthew Crawley is a dream. I need one of my own!

  12. As soon as I saw that this was streaming on netflix (aka read 5 lines into this article), I clicked out of HG and watched the entire first season in one sitting. Thanks for enabling my TV obsession!

  13. Love this show! I too have seen Season 2 and the Christmas special already but I will happily relive it again. Oh, and minor point- the chauffeur is Branson, not Bronson.

  14. Best. Show. Ever.

  15. OMG this is great!!! I’ve seen Season 2 already and I’ll be super happy to revive it with your recaps!! So happy!! :)

  16. I so needed these recaps since I keep skipping episodes. Thanks HG! Can’t wait for Season 2…

  17. Just started watching it on Netflix- LOVING it so far! But I read too far ahead and spoiled it. :(

  18. How come PBS is obsessed with the Brits? Is it because they’re classier than Americans? Probably… definitely…

  19. I’m watching this on Netflix right now and I absolutely love it! And Mr. Bates is so sweet. I totally get it now!

  20. I keep meaning to watch this on Netflix and haven’t gotten around to it, but after this awesome recap, it is happening TODAY!

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