New money and Old New York will clash again in The Gilded Age season 2. The HBO drama will return to further chronicle the lifestyles of the rich and even richer, as well as explore the class and race divisions of 1882 New York City.
The Gilded Age comes from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, who initially conceived of it as a prequel to his hit period show. The story follows naive Marian Brook, a penniless orphan who is taken in by her wealthy aunts, Agnes and Ada, living in New York. Along the way, she befriends aspiring Black writer Peggy Scott and enters into an illicit romance.
After Marian moves in, Aunt Agnes warns her off their nouveau riche neighbors, industrialist George Russell and his social-climbing wife Bertha. But the latter is determined to make her way into the exclusive top ranks of New York society, by whatever means necessary.
Season 1 ends with Bertha achieving a major victory, Marian left heartbroken and Peggy embarking on an emotional journey. Here's everything we know so far about The Gilded Age season 2.
- Watch The Gilded Age season 1 with an HBO Max subscription (opens in new tab)
The Gilded Age season 2 release date speculation
HBO has not set The Gilded Age season 2 premiere date yet.
The network renewed the drama for a second season on February 14, just a few weeks after its debut. According to HBO, the series’ January 24 premiere was its best Monday night debut since Chernobyl.
Even before the renewal, the writers had started plotting out stories for season 2. Producer Gareth Neame told RadioTimes (opens in new tab), "We’re always getting the second season ready long before we know whether it goes ahead or no. Because, you know, the moment we know we’re going ahead, we have to start—the cameras have to start rolling. So you sort of have to prepare."
Season 1 filmed from February 2021 through June, with post-production taking over six months. If season 2's scripts are almost ready, filming may begin in the next few months. If that's the case, our best guess is that The Gilded Age season 2 premieres sometime in spring 2023.
The Gilded Age season 2 cast
While The Gilded Age season 2 cast is not confirmed yet, all major players are expected to return.
The main "upstairs" cast members include:
- Carrie Coon as Bertha Russell, the wealthy upstart seeking a place in society
- Morgan Spector as George Russell, Bertha's husband and a railroad tycoon
- Christine Baranski as Agnes van Rhijn, an snobby old money socialite
- Cynthia Nixon as Ada Brook, Agnes' unmarried sister
- Louisa Jacobson as Marian Brook, the orphaned niece of Agnes and Ada
- Denée Benton as Peggy Scott, an aspiring Black writer
- Harry Richardson as Larry Russell, George and Bertha's son and an aspiring architect
- Taissa Farmiga as Gladys Russell, George and Bertha's daughter and a debutante
- Blake Ritson as Oscar van Rhijn, Agnes' son who is secretly gay
Plus, there are the "downstairs" cast members who play servants:
- Simon Jones as Bannister, butler in the Van Rhijn household
- Debra Monk as Armstrong, Agnes' lady's maid
- Kristine Nielsen as Mrs. Bauer, cook for the Van Rhijns
- Taylor Richardson as Bridget, housemaid for the Van Rhijns
- Ben Ahlers as John "Jack" Treacher, a footman for the Van Rhijns
- Jack Gilpin as Church, butler in the Russell household
- Celia Keenan-Bolger as Mrs. Bruce, the Russells' housekeeper
- Douglas Sills as Monsieur Baudin/Josh Borden, the Russells' chef
- Michael Cerveris as Watson/Collyer, George Russell's valet
- Erin Wilhelmi as Adelheid, Gladys Russell's lady's maid
The larger New York society contains friends, family, business associates and acquaintances of the main characters:
- Thomas Cocquerel as Tom Raikes, a lawyer and Marian's love interest
- Audra McDonald as Dorothy Scott, Peggy's mother
- John Douglas Thompson as Arthur Scott, Peggy's father
- Kelli O'Hara as Aurora Fane, Agnes' niece
- Ward Horton as Charles Fane, Aurora's husband and a city alderman
- Jeanne Tripplehorn as Sylvia Chamberlain, a disgraced former socialite
- Nathan Lane as Ward McAllister, a social arbiter
- Claybourne Elder as John Adams, Oscar's secret lover
- Donna Murphy as Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, the leader of elite New York society
- Amy Forsyth as Carrie Astor, Caroline's daughter
- Ashlie Atkinson as Mamie Fish, a socialite with a home in Newport
- Patrick Page as Richard Clay, George Russell's secretary
- John Sanders as Stanford White, the architect who built the Russell's mansion
- Linda Emond as Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross
- Sullivan Jones as T. Thomas Fortune, publisher of the weekly New York Globe
The Gilded Age season 2 plot and season 1 ending explained
Before we dig into what might happen in The Gilded Age season 2, let's review the season 1 finale's ending.
Marian agrees to elope with Tom and devises a plan to meet him at Mrs. Chamberlain's house. However, the evening before, Aurora Fane sees him at the opera flirting with another debutante. When she rushes to the Van Rhijn home to report this to Marian, she finds her cousin already gone. Ada urges her to catch her at Mrs. Chamberlain's house before it's too late.
Marian is initially skeptical, but the other women note that Tom hasn't showed up at the designated time. She visits his office, where he admits that he is backing out of the elopement because she has no money.
Meanwhile, Bertha is busy preparing for Gladys' coming out ball. She calls on Mrs. Astor to issue an invitation, but is rudely turned away. In return, Bertha decides to exclude Carrie Astor from the ball and the quadrille performance. Carrie's disappointment eventually changes her mother's mind, but when Mrs. Astor calls at the Russell mansion, Bertha says she'll only invite Carrie if Mrs. Astor also attends — and if she forces her friends, including Agnes Van Rhijn and Ada Brook, to follow suit.
Mrs. Astor admits defeat and shows up to the ball, as do Agnes, Ada and a heartbroken Marian. The latter is stunned when Tom enters the ballroom. She gets it together to waltz with Larry, while Gladys dances with Oscar Van Rhijn.
Elsewhere, Peggy's mother Dorothy discovers a note in her husband's pocket. It reveals that Arthur has been hiding the fact that Peggy's baby boy survived and was adopted. When Arthur returns from his trip, he finds his wife and daughter packing to go to Philadelphia to find the child.
Season 2 will likely pick up with Dorothy and Peggy's search, or possibly the results of it. If they find the child and bring him back to Brooklyn, his presence will have a big impact on Peggy's career and ambitions.
As for Marian, she has had her heart broken, but is wiser in the cutthroat ways of high society. Season 2 may introduce a new love interest for her — or deepen her friendship with Larry.
Bertha has won a major victory in her quest to infiltrate the 400. But will it be a case of one step forward, two steps back? Mrs. Astor may have conceded this time, but Agnes doesn't seem ready to welcome her neighbor with open arms. We also may see what Bertha is planning for Gladys. Could a titled English lord be her target? After all, The Gilded Age was meant to be a prequel to Downton Abbey. In that show, Cora Crawley was a rich American heiress whose fortune saved the estate for Lord Grantham. She was modeled after the notorious "Dollar Princesses" who married into British nobility in that era.