Captivating and Timeless: A Look into Popular Period Drama TV Series

Immerse yourself in the glamorous and captivating world of period dramas as we delve into a list of some of the most beloved and critically acclaimed TV series. From the scandalous affairs and extravagant ballrooms of "Bridgerton" to the historical romance of "The Spanish Princess," and the gripping mysteries of "Sanditon," these shows have captivated audiences with their stunning costumes, lush settings, and captivating storylines. Join us as we take a closer look at the popular period drama TV series that have left us longing for a bygone era.

 

Bridgerton (2020-present)

 

bridgerton daphne and simonLIAM DANIEL//NetflixBased on the historical romance novels written by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton is the first show created by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix. It is a captivating period piece that transports viewers back to the Regency era. While the creators of Bridgerton have acknowledged that the series is not entirely historically accurate, it still offers a visual feast with its lavish sets and intricate costumes. In the first season, the story centers around Daphne, who makes a pretend engagement deal with the Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett. Eventually, they develop real feelings for each other. The second season continues their love story and introduces Anthony, Daphne's brother, as he finds his own true love. Fans will be delighted to know that the third season is currently in production, focusing on Colin, another one of Daphne's younger brothers.

Starring: Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Jonathan Bailey, Nicola Coughlan, Golda Rosheuvel

Watch on Netflix

2

 

The Spanish Princess (2019-2020)

 

the spanish princessSTARZHenry VIII, known for his six wives and his break from the Catholic Church, is portrayed from a different perspective in The Spanish Princess. The series explores the life of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who initially came to England from Spain to marry his older brother. The Spanish Princess provides a fresh look into the history of this infamous monarch.

Starring: Alicia Borrachero, Laura Carmichael, Daniel Cerqueira

Watch on Amazon Watch on StarzWatch on Hulu

5

 

Sanditon (2019-present)

 

sanditionITV EntertainmentIf you're a fan of Jane Austen adaptations, then Sanditon, based on Austen's incomplete novel, is a must-watch. The show takes place in a seaside resort town and introduces viewers to a captivating romantic lead, Theo James. One notable aspect of Sanditon is the inclusion of a Black character, Georgiana Lambe, an heiress from the West Indies played by Crystal Clarke.

Starring: Rose Williams, Theo James, Kris Marshall

Watch on Amazon

6

 

Lovecraft Country (2020)

 

lovecraft country charactersHBOSet in 1950s Chicago, Lovecraft Country follows the story of Atticus Freeman, a Korean War veteran who returns home to a country still plagued by racism. Based on Matt Ruff's novel, the series explores the dangers of racism alongside Lovecraftian monsters. Although the show was unfortunately canceled after one season, it remains a thrilling and spooky watch, blending period elements with sci-fi.

Starring: Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors, Aunjanue Ellis

Watch on HBO Max

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Dickinson (2019-2021)

 

dickinson charactersDavid Giesbrecht//AppleEmily Dickinson, a renowned poet of her time, is the focus of this anachronistic series. Hailee Steinfeld portrays Dickinson, who spent most of her life sequestered in her bedroom, only for her brilliant poems to be discovered after her death. The show explores Dickinson's relationships, including her deep bond with her brother's wife, Susan, as depicted through their correspondences. With a mix of absurd humor and poignant drama, the three seasons of Dickinson bring this enigmatic poet to life. Notably, Wiz Khalifa plays the character of Death in the series.

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski, Toby Huss

Watch on Apple TV

11

 

Harlots (2017-2019)

 

harlots charactersHuluHarlots takes viewers into the world of financially independent women in 18th-century England. The show centers around a group of madams and sex workers, who find a sense of freedom in their work and catering to wealthy clients. With its witty dialogue and engaging plotlines, Harlots offers a unique perspective on the options available to women in the past.

Starring: Samantha Morton, Lesley Manville, Jessica Brown Findlay, Liv Tyler, Alfie Allen

Watch on Hulu

12

 

Call the Midwife (2012-present)

 

call the midwife characterSophie MutevelianCall the Midwife offers a refreshing perspective on midcentury Britain, focusing on the everyday heroes of London's East End: the nurses, midwives, and nuns who played a crucial role in delivering babies. The show celebrates their victories and mourns their tragedies, providing a heartfelt and emotional viewing experience.

Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Jenny Agutter, Laura Main, Helen George, Judy Parfitt, Jessica Raine

Watch on Netflix

15

 

Gentleman Jack (2019-2022)

 

gentleman jackHBOGentleman Jack is based on the true story of Anne Lister, a trailblazing lesbian figure hailed as the first modern lesbian in history. The series draws inspiration from Lister's extensive diaries, which were written in a self-created code. It explores Lister's unconventional courtship with a woman, which would have been unheard of in 1830s Yorkshire. While Gentleman Jack was canceled after two seasons, it remains an important portrayal of a marginalized slice of history.

Starring: Suranne Jones, Sophie Rundle, Gemma Whelan, Gemma Jones,

Watch on HBO Max

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16

 

Poldark (2015-2019)

 

captain poldarkPBSPoldark tells the story of Captain Ross Poldark, a brooding hero who returns to England after fighting in the Revolutionary War. Set against the backdrop of a changing society, Poldark finds himself torn between different worlds and embarks on a journey of love and self-discovery.

Starring: Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ellise Chappell

Watch on Amazon Prime

17

 

The Forsyte Saga (2002-2003)

 

forstye sagaMGM TelevisionBased on John Galsworthy's Nobel Prize-winning work, The Forsyte Saga follows the wealthy Forsyte family from the 1870s to the 1920s. This highbrow series delves into their lives, offering gripping soap-opera-worthy plots.

Starring: Damian Lewis, Rupert Graves, Gina McKee

Watch on Amazon Prime

18

 

Cable Girls (2017-2020)

 

cable girls charactersNetflixCable Girls is set in 1920s Spain and follows a group of women working for the country's newly established telephone service. The show combines gripping drama with cliffhanger moments, offering a fascinating portrayal of women's roles and economic mobility during that era.

Starring: Blanca Suárez, Yon González, Ana Fernández, Nadia de Santiago

Watch on Netflix

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19

 

North and South (2004)

 

north and south charactersBBCNorth and South is a four-part drama that captivates viewers with its tale of love across class divides. Released nearly 20 years ago, it continues to resonate with audiences today. Featuring a legendary kiss that has become an iconic scene in TV history, the series explores the complexities of relationships and the societal norms of the time.

Starring: Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Sinead Crusack

Watch on Amazon PrimeWatch on BritBox

20

 

Marie Antoinette

 

View full content on YouTubeSofia Coppola's 2006 film Marie Antoinette has become a cult favorite. With its visually stunning candy-colored aesthetic and a standout performance by Kirsten Dunst, the movie takes viewers on a hedonistic journey as a young Marie Antoinette ascends to become the Queen of France at just 15 years old. The film showcases excess, scandal, and drama, all wrapped up in fabulous fashion.

WATCH ON AMAZON PRIME

5

 

Pride and Prejudice

 

View full content on YouTubeAmong the numerous Jane Austen adaptations, the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice stands out as a convincing and charming portrayal. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth deliver standout performances as Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, two individuals from different social standings and temperaments who find themselves perfect for each other. The supporting cast is excellent, and the series captures the intelligent and sharp dialogue of Austen's work. An unforgettable scene, known as "The Kiss," adds to the enduring popularity of this adaptation.

WATCH ON NETFLIX

6

 

Ammonite

 

The triangle icon that indicates to playpreview for Ammonite - Official Trailer (Lionsgate)Ammonite is a film inspired by the life of Mary Anning, a pioneering palaeontologist whose work was often overlooked and credited to her male peers. While there is no concrete evidence of Anning's romantic relationships, the film portrays a lesbian love story between her and a fictional character, Charlotte Murchison. This choice highlights societal conditioning to view heterosexual relationships as the norm in love stories. Kate Winslet delivers a strong performance in this thought-provoking tale.

WATCH ON AMAZON PRIME

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7

 

Atonement

 

View full content on YouTubeBased on Ian McEwan's novel, Atonement explores themes of love, war, and redemption. The story begins with a grave mistake made by a 13-year-old, leading to a tragic series of events set against the backdrop of World War II. Saoirse Ronan and Keira Knightley deliver captivating performances, making this a film that delves into the complexities of human nature and the possibility of redemption.

WATCH ON AMAZON PRIME

8

 

The Favourite

 

Click here to view the full content on YouTubeThe Favourite is a black comedy directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and features an exceptional cast including Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz. Set in the 18th-Century court of Queen Anne, the film revolves around two of her "favourites," played by Weisz and Stone, who engage in a cunning and ruthless game of one-upmanship. The film received an astounding 10 Oscar nominations in 2019, with Olivia Colman winning the award for Best Actress.

Watch The Favourite on Amazon Prime

9

 

The French Lieutenant's Woman

 

Click here to view the full content on YouTubeThe French Lieutenant's Woman intertwines two love stories set in different time periods: one in the Victorian era and another in the 1980s. Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons portray the romantic leads in both narratives, with Streep earning an Oscar nomination and winning the Bafta award for Best Actress. While their performances may be considered theatrical by modern standards, the character of the French lieutenant's woman remains a captivating figure - a woman ahead of her time who defied societal expectations.

Watch The French Lieutenant's Woman on Amazon Prime

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10

 

Brideshead Revisited

 

Click here to view the full content on YouTubeBrideshead Revisited, based on Evelyn Waugh's novel, is a 13-hour period drama that originally aired in 1981. It is widely regarded as one of the most remarkable period dramas in history. Jeremy Irons stars as Charles Ryder, the central character, whose journey unfolds through his relationship with the wealthy and eccentric Flyte family, residing in the grand Brideshead Castle. With its sophisticated, nostalgic, and hedonistic atmosphere, Brideshead Revisited provides a captivating escape into a bygone era of English high society.

Watch Brideshead Revisited on Amazon Prime

11

 

Bright Star

 

Click here to view the full content on YouTubeBright Star, directed by Jane Campion, beautifully captures the intensity and pain of first love. The film explores the passionate relationship between 19th-century poet John Keats and his muse, Fanny Brawne. Keats, a dreamer, and Brawne, a realist, defy societal expectations and engage in a deeply passionate love affair, much to the disapproval of Brawne's family, who desired a wealthy suitor for her. Unfortunately, their story comes to a tragic end when Keats dies at a young age of 25. Bright Star is a delicate and exquisite tribute to overwhelming and heart-stopping passion.

Watch Bright Star on Amazon Prime

12

With a plethora of captivating period dramas to choose from, it's no wonder that audiences are constantly falling in love with the enchanting worlds they create. From the scandalous romances of "Bridgerton" and "The Spanish Princess" to the historical brilliance of "Poldark" and "The Forsyte Saga," these TV series have not only entertained but also transported viewers to a bygone era. Whether you're a fan of the elegant costumes, the intricate storylines, or the undeniable chemistry between the characters, there's something for everyone in the realm of popular period dramas. So why not immerse yourself in the past and let these enchanting tales captivate your heart?

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