Back when MoviePass first came out (oh THOSE were the days... why must corporations ruin everything?!) we went to see the Veronica Mars movie before we had ever seen a single episode of the series. We knew we missed a lot of inside jokes, but it was still enjoyable. We got the series and watched it all and again recently for the continuation. The movie was DEFINITELY better having seen the series, but it could definitely stand alone. We also saw Detective Pikachu recently. We also knew very little about the series, but we had our new MoviePass and we were ready to try anything! We also noticed a lot of inside jokes, but, this time, the movie definitely could not stand on its own. It was hard to follow in parts, and not having the background of playing the games nor watching the cartoon really prevented us from enjoying the movie. Having never seen an episode of Downton Abbey, I was not excited for the movie. Would it be a Veronica Mars or a Detective Pikachu?
Downton Abbey refers to the estate of a wealthy noble family. The show and the movie follows a family who dwell there and their servants in the 1920s. The movie has a wealth of historical context and the characters are just brimming with personality. Because of this, I didn't really feel like I missed too much by having never seen an episode. Some of the relationships were a bit hard to follow, but I eventually caught on with the well-written exposition that never seemed out of place.
I'm certain that a love for the characters would increase your enjoyment of the movie, but for me, you really didn't need to know much to enjoy the movie. There was quite a bit of 'first world problems for the 1%' issues that were a bit hard to care about, but eventually there was some conflict that anyone could relate to, such as dealing with family members being a bit controlling or manipulative. In all, it was a touching movie with deep characters and witty writing. I think if you might be the type to enjoy a 1920s period piece set in England, then you'll enjoy this movie. It's definitely not for everyone, but don't let missing the series stop you. This is definitely more like Veronica Mars!