Downton Abbey Meets Modern Family in the Victorian Mockumentary Wimpole Street

Master of the house John Miller M.P. has gone missing yet again and his home on Wimpole Street is a tizzy of gossip from the grand dining room to scullery. The household is all the more hyped up on speculation since a journalist is interviewing its members about the disappearance.

In London playwright Caitlin Shannon's Victorian mystery mockumentary web series, Wimpole Street, both the servants and the upper-class Miller family gush to the camera in duo interviews about Mr. Miller's disappearance as well as their views on love, the crisis of tea etiquette and whether one should name turtles before making them into soup.

The microbudget series looks as polished as any TV period drama, thanks to costumes rented from London's National Theatre and a talented design team. "Frances White, our production designer, really researched 1870 London and thought about every detail, from the Aspidistra in the background to the Victorian copper pots," Shannon says in an interview.

The team had originally wanted to shoot in a museum but the budget would not allow it, so they shot in Shannon's apartment. "If the frame had been any wider, you would have seen a TV and shelves full of CDs," she admits.

Shannon was inspired by the style of the British The Office. "What impressed me was the subtlety of the comedy, the way the characters gave themselves away without knowing it."

Wimpole Street offers that same subtlety and dry British humor, neatly cinched into a Victorian corset. - Stephanie Carrie

The Tangled Web We Watch is our column on what's worth watching online. You can watch Wimpole Street at Read Stephanie Carrie's full interview with Caitlin Shannon on her blog,

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