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How A Downton Abbey Live Chat Turned Strangers Into Friends

(Photo courtesy of (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE.)

It’s almost like going on a first date. You know what you have in common with your mystery guest, but you’re both nervous and excited about the prospect of hitting it off in person.

I might not be searching for a new partner, but on Sunday, March 6th I’ll be meeting many new faces for the first time. Faces whom, for the past four years, I’ve known only by screen names in our ”Desperate for Downton”chat room. But that’s not to say they’re complete strangers.

Making friends through the internet is a curious thing. You can’t say for sure how tall they are, their profession or even their family dynamic. However, you notice when they are absent during your weekly discussion about the Crawley family and staff and follow up with them later. You begin to notice their beverage of choice, through pictures and comments; for the weekly viewing (we’re partial to a cup of tea during “Desperate for Downton” live chats).

But most of all, you notice their passion. Passion for a character, for a storyline, for the show itself. It’s a sense of emoticon-fueled glee at the season premiere and loss for a season finale, but everyone knows at the end of each season we’ll simply wait ten months for the new season and revive our special chat space.

Tonight, it will be different.

Tonight many of us who have been taking part in the "Desperate for Downton" live chats will meet for the first time. And beyond an interest in getting to know our friends in real life, it’s a reflection of the opportunities and gifts we’ve found through our yearly chats. Our chat members have had luck in meeting with GPB employees, responsible for bringing and promoting their favorite shows. They also will be featured prominently in our live audience on Sunday, March 6th with their own section. But even more than that, some of us have had the opportunity for “Desperate for Downton” to change our lives.

"Desperate for Downton" bloggers Rosemary Jean-Louis (left) and Rachel Buchman (right) show off their period wear at the 2014 "Downton" gala. (Photo courtesy Lauren Anderson/GPB).

I’m an example. What started as a simple blog recounting a Downton Abbey weekend at Sea Island for me turned into an internship opportunity in the social media department, working with “Desperate for Downton” blogger/chat room moderator and Social Media Community Manager Rosemary Jean-Louis. It was a foot in the door for a new career that I otherwise would never have imagined.

Beyond participating in the chat room discussing all things Downton, I’m privileged to learn not only how social media company accounts are run, but how the PBS and NPR affiliate works on a day-to-day basis. It’s fast and exciting, but most importantly, “Desperate for Downton” helped me get here. And for that, I owe the opportunity to discuss Downton so many thanks.

So, for the last “Desperate for Downton” live chat, I invite you to join me and be a part of this important friendship we’ve created over the years (if you aren’t attending our live event on Sunday). While Rosemary will be live-tweeting our finale event, I’ll be your chat room moderator. I can’t wait to discuss the series finale with you and how Downton has changed your life, just like it did mine.

Join The Downton Abbey Season 6 Series Finale Live Chat Here