On Centre | Around Bellefonte: ‘Downton Abbey’ addicts have support and pastries

The Crawleys and the Granthams. Upper class vs. lower class. And, of course, the costumes.

“Downton Abbey,” the British period drama set in the early 1900s, started its fifth season in the U.S. this month, and fans can’t stop talking about it.

Fans love talking about it so much that a Bellefonte church has organized a mid-week “support group” for area residents suffering from “ ‘Downton Abbey’ addiction,” according a news release.

The Rev. Brenda Clark, of St. John’s United Church of Christ, invites fellow “Abbey crabbies” to meet at 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Bellefonte Twist on South Allegheny Street for group discussion with coffee, tea and pastries.

There’s such a strong interest in the show, Clark’s husband, Mike Evans, said, adding that he has found himself in multiple-person conversations in church and out.

Evans admitted he’s only familiar with the overall story of “Downton Abbey.” Clark is the one who knows all the characters and how their relationships intersect.

He said that, even though the show is set almost 100 years ago in a different country, the problems can be related to present day. Seasons of “Downton Abbey” deal with World War I and its aftermath, a post-war scenario modern-day Americans can certainly identify with.

“We and ‘Downton Abbey’ are at the beginning of their centuries,” he said. “They couldn’t imagine what was happening. We’ve got some prosperity coming back to the country now. It’s starting to look good, but none of us know what’s coming over that horizon.”

Clark chose to meet at the Bellefonte Twist because it’s open late and it’s a good place to meet, Evans said. Both are new to the community, having moved to Pennsylvania from Michigan in November. They talked to the workers at the Twist, who were interested and open to the idea of having people meet there.

“We figured, why not?” he said. “Why not do something that might provide a little more business for a local place and maybe draw in some other people who might be interested outside of the church?”

Evans said he hopes the discussions go well and would like to offer more community-oriented events in the future.

“In ‘Downton Abbey’ we experience pain, love and suffering — emotions we all deal with every day,” Clark said in the release. “This is fodder for great group discussion.”