Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that there are plenty of adult themes in this popular BBC series -- sex, scandal, and cover up; sexual assault; thievery; blackmail; sudden death -- but all are handled in very buttoned-up Edwardian English fashion. When an unmarried woman sleeps with a male visitor, both are still completely clothed when the camera cuts away. Both opposite-sex and same-sex couples kiss. There are some sad and/or tense moments (a corpse is dragged down a hallway, a medical procedure is shown in detail, a woman dies in childbirth, a beloved character is raped), but overall Downton Abbey offers the typical costume drama experience, complete with backstabbing sisters (they can be really cruel), out-of-touch but usually well-meaning upper-class characters, and a few scheming servants amidst an otherwise loyal and steadfast house staff.
Passionate, clothed kissing on a bed leads to implied sex. Additional kissing between both opposite-sex and (rarely) same-sex couples. A footman and a duke talk about their secret affair, and the same footman makes advances toward another man and is rejected. Big drama occurs when a soldier finds out his injury will prevent him from having children. Some innuendo. An unmarried couple sneaks away for a secret tryst; birth control comes into play.
A brief, unpleasant scene on the operating table -- fluid is pumped out of a man's heart. Another man's leg is shown covered in sores. A corpse lies in a bed and is dragged down a hallway. A couple of fist fights -- blood is drawn after one. A pregnant woman takes a fall and loses her baby (nothing is shown). The second season focuses more on World War I; some scenes take place in the trenches with active bombing, some injuries, and lots of tension -- as well as the aftermath (recovering from wounds, etc.). Some very sad deaths.
Infrequent. One sister calls another a slut; a couple of uses of the word "bitch."
Bonds of family and friendship are tested repeatedly but generally stand strong; when push comes to shove, most characters have one another's back. Loyalty to Downton and its residents is strong. Themes include -- on one hand -- adultery, betrayal, manipulation, and revenge and -- on the other -- dealing with the inevitability of change, broadening your perspective/options, and learning to embrace new ideas.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Servants smoke cigarettes often, and lords and dukes smoke cigars (accurate for the time period). Wine and spirits are served with dinner and after. A footman steals wine. Occasional drunkenness.