In recent years, I’ve happily become a binge-watcher.
There’s nothing quite like falling in love with a new series and being able to immerse myself in it for extended periods for days on end until a season is complete. Even better, if the program has numerous seasons under its belt and I’m just now discovering it, I have the pleasure of multiple seasons to enjoy all at once!
My latest binge-watch is a high-quality series produced by Andrew Davies called Mr. Selfridge. It carries all the allure and depth of character development that I’ve been missing since Downton Abbey ended. Thankfully, with Mr. Selfridge, my Downton withdrawals have finally abated!
Mr. Selfridge begins its series in London during the early 1900s. Harry Selfridge (marvelously portrayed by Jeremy Piven) and his family have relocated to London from America to build a four-story department store filled with vast amounts of both men’s and women’s merchandise, as well as specialty departments like outdoors and confectionary, that Londoners have never dreamed of having all in a single location. The elegant layout also sports its own tailors, dressmakers, and even its own built-in posh restaurant, all manned by Selfridge store employees. It’s here that the series admirably earns its Downton-like moniker.
We, the viewers, have a front seat view to the lives of those who are at worker level, middle management, and upper management, as well as a host of Londoners who enter and exit into the storylines where needed. It’s very much an upstairs-downstairs composite with unique flair for drama, romance, and general relationship-centric appeal.
The show expertly presents a thoroughly immersive environment that realistic for the period, both indoors the store and outdoors in London proper. The costumes are smartly presented from all tiers of society, and the wonders of the age are explored as developments arrive abroad from both America and Europe, particularly the evolving styles and culture from Paris.
The casting for the show is outstanding! Jeremy Piven is compelling as the sometimes benevolent, often flawed, and sometime tortured character that is Harry Selfridge. Tom Goodman-Hill as Selfridge’s well-meaning yet flawed manager of personnel, Mr. Grove, is engaging, and Ron Cook portrays Mr. Crabb, a man whose character and life experiences guide the moral compass for the store and its staff. And Grégory Fitoussi as store display designer Henri Leclair is charming, suave, and charismatic.
But it’s the women in the show that really bring excellence to this period drama. Katherine Kelly as Lady Mae is a juggernaut in the show, while the lovely Aisling Loftus as Agnes Towler is someone who you find yourself empathizing with and quickly rooting for. Amy Beth Hayes as Kitty Hawkins stirs controversy wherever she goes, while Frances O’Connor as Rose Selfridge commands the screen as Harry’s wife; a woman with her own insights into both her husband and the world of commerce. But one of my favorite surprises was to see Amanda Abbington as Miss Mardie; one of the most compelling female characters in the series. (Many of you may recognize Amanda from another great British series, Sherlock, where she portrays the powerful and dynamic character, Mary Morstan.)
I could go on and on about the series. Suffice to say that, if you like period dramas like Downton Abbey, you will love Mr. Selfridge! It’s free to stream on Amazon Prime if you’re a prime member.
Let me know what you think about it. Also, drop me a line and tell me what shows you’re currently addicted to. Are there any fellow binge-watchers out there?
Until later, enjoy life; be kind to those around you, and Happy Reading! Peace.