Here’s How to Watch ‘The Gilded Age’ For Free to See the American ‘Downton Abbey’

"The Gilded Age"
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

If you love period pieces, you may want to know how to watch The Gilded Age online for free to see what fans are calling the new Downton Abbey. (They’re by the same team!)

Created by Julian Fellowes—the creator and writer of Downton Abbey, Gosford Park, 2013’s Romeo and Juliet and other period-piece TV shows and dramas—The Gilded Age is set in the Gilded Age of New York City in the 1880s and follows Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson), a young woman who moves from rural Pennsylvania to New York City after the death of her father to live with her old money aunts, Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon). Accompanied by Peggy Scott (Denée Benton), an aspiring writer in search of a fresh start, Marian finds herself in the middle of a social war between one of her aunts and their neighbors, railroad tycoon George Russell and his wife, Bertha.

In an interview with Collider in January 2022, Fellowes opened up about why he wanted to create a show set in America after Downton Abbey. “I think I did have a desire to tell an American story, yes. That’s from quite long ago. I’ve been coming here for coming up to 52 years,” he said. “That’s more than half a century. And I lived in L.A. for a couple of years, at one point. So, I do feel very bonded with America and I did think that would be interesting. Of course, in a way, because of having an American character, one of the dollar princesses, in a series I wrote called Downton Abbey. I think that was a step towards it.”

He continued, “I was reading around this period for quite a long time, actually, when I wasn’t thinking in terms of television, but I just thought maybe this is the American story I can tell. I was conscious of that, yes, but I was also conscious of the fact that, in the end, I’m not American. However much I’ve been here and however many American friends I’ve got, and I’ve got an American niece, I’m not American. That’s why wanted an American voice, and HBO came up with the idea of Sonja [Warfield], if she wanted to do it.”

Fellowes warned to USA Today, however, that Downton Abbey and The Gilded Age are two different shows despite coming from the same creator. “Downton had a melancholy about it, which was rather charming. It was partly about the decline of the control of the [British] aristocracy,” he said. “This is the absolute opposite: It’s the arrival of the new guys in town who came to New York in the 1870s and ’80s and built their palaces up and down Fifth Avenue. They threw money at everything because they had money.” He told the outlet that the core of the series are the conflicts that arise between the “the old families, who were on the brink of losing their power, and the new families, who were just gaining it.”

While the show isn’t the same as Downton Abbey, Fellowes confirmed that fans of the British drama will still love his new American period piece. So how can one stream The Gilded Age? Read on for how to watch The Gilded Age online for free even if you don’t have an HBO Max subscription yet.

"The Gilded Age"

Image: Courtesy of HBO.

When does The Gilded Age start?

The Gilded Age premieres on January 24, 2022, at 9 p.m. on HBO.

When does The Gilded Age air?

The Gilded Age airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

How to watch The Gilded Age online

The Gilded Age is available to stream on HBO Max, which offers two plans: a $9.99 per month ad-supported plan and a $14.99 per month ad-free plan. Both plans also offer yearly subscriptions. The ad-supported plan offers a $99.99 per year subscription (which saves users about $20 from the monthly price) and the ad-free plan offers a $149.99 per year subscription (which saves users about $30 from the monthly price.)

How to watch The Gilded Age online for free

So how can one watch The Gilded Age online for free? Read on for our tips and tricks to stream The Gilded Age at no cost—even if you don’t have an HBO Max subscription yet.

Watch The Gilded Age With Hulu’s HBO Max Free Trial

While HBO Max doesn’t have a free trial, customers can still try out the service for free via Hulu’s HBO Max free trial. The service allows users to try both Hulu and HBO Max for free for seven days, which is enough time to test out the site before subscribing. Just be sure to set a reminder to cancel your subscription before you’re charged. After the trial ends, the service will cost $14.99 to add HBO Max to one’s Hulu account.

Watch The Gilded Age With AT&T’s Free HBO Max Subscription

If you’re an AT&T customer (or know someone who is), you may be eligible for a free HBO Max subscription. The first step is to check if your AT&T plans includes a free HBO Max subscription. Eligible plans include: AT&T Unlimited Elite, AT&T Unlimited Plus, AT&T Unlimited Plus Enhanced, AT&T Unlimited Choice, AT&T Unlimited Choice II, AT&T Unlimited Choice Enhanced and AT&T Unlimited & More Premium. If you have one of these plans, you’re eligible for a complimentary HBO Max account. There are FAQs with instructions on how to claim your free HBO Max subscription here and here.

"The Gilded Age"

Image: Courtesy of HBO.

How many episodes is The Gilded Age?

The Gilded Age season one is nine episodes.

Who’s in The Gilded Age cast?

The Gilded Age cast includes Christine Baranski as Agnes van Rhijn, a Dutch-American socialite, and Cynthia Nixon, Agnes’ sister. The star-studded cast also includes Carrie Coon, Taissa Farmiga, Denée Benton and guest star like Audra McDonald and Kelli O’Hara. Read on for the full Gilded Age cast. 

  • Christine Baranski as Agnes van Rhijn
  • Cynthia Nixon as Ada Brook
  • Carrie Coon as Bertha Russell
  • Morgan Spector as George Russell
  • Denée Benton as Peggy Scott
  • Louisa Jacobson as Marian Brook
  • Taissa Farmiga as Gladys Russell
  • Blake Ritson as Oscar van Rhijn
  • Simon Jones as Bannister
  • Harry Richardson as Larry Russell
  • Thomas Cocquerel as Tom Raikes
  • Jack Gilpin as Church, the Russell family’s butler
  • Jeanne Tripplehorn as Sylvia Chamberlain
  • Patrick Page as Richard Clay
  • Douglas Sills as Monsieur Baudin
  • Amy Forsyth as Caroline Astor
  • Taylor Richardson as Bridget
  • Kelley Curran as Turner
  • Ben Ahlers as Jack Treacher
  • Nathan Lane as Ward McAllister
  • Audra McDonald as Dorothy Scott
  • Kelli O’Hara as Aurora Fane
  • Donna Murphy as Mrs. Astor
  • Michael Cerveris as Watson
  • Debra Monk as Armstrong
  • Katie Finneran as Anne Morris
  • Celia Keenan-Bolger as Mrs. Bruce
  • Kristine Nielsen as Mrs. Bauer
  • John Douglas Thompson as Arthur Scott
  • Bill Irwin as Cornelius Eckhard
  • Tom Blyth as Archie Baldwin
  • Sullivan Jones as T. Thomas Fortune
  • Linda Emond as Clara Barton
  • Michel Gill as Patrick Morris
  • Ward Horton as Charles Fane
  • Andrew Child as Doylestown Farmer
  • Mitchell Jones as The Russell Footman

What is The Gilded Age based on?

The Gilded Age is based on The Gilded Age of the United States from the 1870s to the 1900 when there was rapid economic growth, especially in the Northern and Western areas of the U.S. The period also saw an influx of millions of European immigrants as American wages grew higher than those in Europe, especially as the industrialization of the U.S. demanded an increasing labor force. The Gilded Age, specifically, is set in the time when the expansion of industrialization led to wage growth of 60 percent between 1860 and 1890s and the average annual wage for industrial workers rose 48 percent from $380 to $564.

“We live in an age of high consumerism and showing off and enormous fortunes being made,” Fellowes told Backstage in 2022 of why he chose The Gilded Age as the time period to base his show around. “In fact, while we were shooting the show, we had Bezos and that other billionaire racing each other to the moon in their own rockets. This is a very Gilded Age thing to do, whether they were aware of that or not.”

He also told Backstage that the how is different from Downton Abbey but has a lot of similar themes around wealth and class. “I didn’t really, if I’m honest, spend much time thinking about: Is this like Downton, or is this not like Downton? ” Fellowes said. “There’s a limit to what happens to human beings. You’re, all the time, trying to think of new stories. But I think Downton was great and I think it did well, and I’m very grateful. And now I’m on to something else.”

The Gilded Age is available to stream on HBO Max. Here’s how to watch it for free.

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