Period dramas have a rep for not being able to stay on air very long, especially on non-premium networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. The majority of period dramas are going to be found on big networks like HBO, STARZ, Netflix, and Showtime. They have the budget for it, and they know how to make them at their best.
I love history, even if it's not always portrayed accurately. I've seen just about every single period drama TV show out there. It's a lot, but no nearly enough at the same time. So whether you're just dipping your toes into the genre, or already adore the genre and came here looking for some recs... here are 7 of my favorite period dramas on television.
Sidenote: This list won't include any period drama fantasy shows. I love those shows, but I think they kind of occupy a sub-category within the genre. They're mostly set in a fictional world where being a "period drama" is simply one of the characteristics of that world. Although one of the shows on this list does have magical elements, and could be categorized as Fantasy or Sci-Fi, I wanted to focus on shows that revolve around their time period and its history. In other words, Game of Thrones can't be on this list.
My second favorite show of all time, and one of the best period dramas to ever air. Yes, it is has a time-traveling element, but it focuses on the location and raging war between Scotland and England in the 1740s. This show's storyline revolves heavily around the history of its time, and one of the main threads is that the characters are attempting to alter it. Aside from the history, the next big theme in Outlander is the love stry. A married English woman from the 1940s accidentally travels back in time to 1740s Scotland... and falls in love with a Highlander. The characters are amazing. The costumes are exquisite. The storyline is compelling. And you'll want to listen to the score on repeat. Out of all of the shows on this list, I recommend this one the most.
2. Black Sails
Unlike Outlander, this show has recently concluded, so you can watch all the seasons in one glorious binge. It's one of the more violent shows, so beware if you squeamish about blood and battles. One of my favorite themes in period dramas is pirates. It might be because of my love for Pirates of the Caribbean, but I love anything with pirates. Black Sails fully delivers on that front. It's not a full set of completely new characters either. There are plenty of familiar names if you know anything about pirate history... or read Treasure Island (or saw Treasure Planet). This show is a prequel to the events in Robert Louis Stevenson's epic novel.
3. The White Queen
This show is a mini-series made up of 10 episodes. It covers one of my favorite historical topics: The War of the Roses. To give you an idea of the timeline... It begins with Elizabeth Woodville meeting King Edward and ends with the Battle of Bosworth. This is one of the only period dramas that I've watched more than once (three times so far), and I'll probably watch it again soon. It's an insane unraveling of events, and one of my favorite dramas to watch unfold on-screen. Also notable, "The White Queen" may refer exclusively to Elizabeth Woodville, but the show itself focuses on three harrowing women of the time. This allows the show to depict the conflict and events from three different perspectives. The other two women we focus on are Anne Neville and Margaret Beaufort.
4. Downton Abbey
How could you possibly have a period drama list and not mention the iconic Downton? This show definitely ranks in my Top 10 of all time favorite shows. It's so alluring and well-written that I couldn't believe I waited as long as I did to watch it. There is absolutely nothing violent or action-packed about Downton, so if you prefer blood and battles than this is not the show for you. However, if you prefer engaging dialogue, interesting characters, and more "soapy" drama... then this is exactly what you need to watch. There's a reason Downton garnered so many awards. It really does live up to the hype.5. Poldark
You may not have head of this one, but it's one of the best. It's a British production, so it doesn't actually air in the US. However, you can find it online. It's a lot like Downton in the 1700s Cornwall, England. The show is very focused on its setting. Cornwall is like a character of its own. This series is also based on a famous book series by Winston Graham.
One of the most mainstream period dramas to emerge in recent times... Why? Because it's a CW show. It definitely has that CW tint, which breaks away from the authenticity of the other shows I've listed. It's also the least historically accurate, which did annoy me at times. That being said, it's a fun show that any period drama will love. Megan Follows and Adelaide Kane are especially amazing in their Queenly roles. The whole cast is absolutely amazing, and it's the kind of show you can watch when you just want to relax and escape for a bit.
The History Channel's lower budget version of Game of Thrones (except loosely based on real history/myth). I've been watching this show since 2013. It's a consistent thread in my life. My roommate named her cats Loki and Ivar because of this show.
Honestly, the plot can get a bit muddled and confusing. It's the character that truly makes Vikings shine. I'll never stop watching as long as my faves are still forming shield walls and conquering the world together.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.
For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.
For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.
Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.
At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.
There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.
The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.
Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.
Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.
Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.
An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.
Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.
The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.
"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.
1. "New Girl"
A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.
2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"
Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.
3. "Jane the Virgin"
I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.
4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"Giphy
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".
5. "The Good Place"
Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.
6. "Fresh Off The Boat"
Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.
7. "Full House"
Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.
8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"
Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.
Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.
I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!