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5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

Last Sunday, the long-awaited third season of the ITV hit Downton Abbey finally premiered on American television. Just in case you weren't one of the record 7.9 million viewers tuned in to PBS that night, Downton Abbey tells the story of the aristocratic Crawley family, living on an expansive British estate along with their faithful (but occasionally treacherous) servants and their silent yellow Labrador Retriever named Isis. Lord Grantham and his American wife, Lady Cora, like many (stereotypical) aristocratic British drama families, gave birth to three daughters and no sons, and therefore must scheme and manipulate in order to keep the estate in the family.

Season 1 Recap: Titanic sinks, heir is dead, Turk in the bed, blind cook, slippery soap, baby blues, enigmatic valet, conniving servants, family scandal.

Season 2 Recap: WWI, manor hospital, faceless stranger, sham wedding, real funeral, real wedding, fake elopement, another funeral, enigmatic valet, conniving servants, family scandal.

If you just realized you've been missing the "next big thing," it's not too late to catch up with the series that has quadrupled the regular PBS audience and doubled the Season 2 premier even though the entire season has already aired in the UK. Amazon Instant Video has both Seasons One and Two available...free if you're an Amazon Prime member.

You can also watch the first episode of Season 3 there.

When Season 2 ended, we saw distant cousin (and reluctant heir to the estate) Matthew Crawley propose to Lady Mary, daughter of Robert Crawley, earl of Grantham. As Season 3 unfolds, we find the family trying to return to their lives after the turmoil of the Great War years. The family is now busily preparing for the much-anticipated wedding. Unfortunately, the family’s opulent lifestyle is about to unravel and we discover:

5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

Warning: Plot spoilers below.