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Secret Shonda Rhimes Period Drama

Before Shonda Rhimes made Bridgerton, she made a pilot for another costume drama starring John Barrowman, Blythe Danner, and Sarah Bolger. But it's not streaming anywhere!

Gilded Lilys (2013)

Set in 1895, the show revolves around the opening of the first luxury hotel in New York City and all the intermingling of love, treachery, and disdain between the classes set against a backdrop of vicious family rivalries, scandalous secrets, and conflict and co-mingling of classes.

Ever since the success of Downton Abbey, there's been talk of making a competing American show. Gilded Lilys was likely meant to fill that gap. Since this is an unaired pilot, Gilded Lilys is a "secret Shonda Rhimes period drama" as there was very little publicity at the time it was made and is not available for viewing!

photo of John Barrowman, a dark haired white man in a tuxedo, in a gilded gold frame in a museum where women in brown dresses with hats similar to a gilded age style look around

It sounds like a ton of money was spent to make this pilot, so it could be advertised a "tv movie" to make ABC some money back. It never was green-lit, probably because of the high cost to make the period drama. Even though Downton Abbey was financially successful, 6 season and 2 movie was nowhere near the initial assumption of the show's success and such a period drama would have been a large gamble for a broadcast network that's closest thing to a costume drama was Once Upon a Time, a Disney live-action retelling.

Barrowman has taken a step back from filming since his #metoo moment so a new release of "Gilded Lilys" would bring up that scandal again. Even with that, I would just like to see Blythe Danner in another period drama!

Because ABC did greenlight a Gilded Age show to compete with "Downtown Abbey," the creator of the British show, Julian Fellowes, decided to write a New York show, which is now the successful HBO's Gilded Age. Between Bridgeton, Gilded Age, and more period dramas, there is a larger appetite for these shows so ABC should dust off the vault and let us get a peak and what could have been.

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