Since its release on December 25, 2020, Bridgerton has been on Netflix’s Top 10 and has shown up all over Tik Tok. Set during the Regency era in London, this period drama follows the debutante season where young eligible ladies of the ton present themselves at court and aim to find a suitor. The Shondaland show is mainly focused on Daphne from the Bridgerton family, one of the most prominent families in England, and her struggles in securing an acceptable match. Of course, there is much romance, scandal and drama, which is all spread by the anonymous Lady Whistledown who is very much like Gossip Girl. Since it gives off a Jane Austen feel, many have referred to Bridgerton as the perfect combination of Gossip Girl and Pride and Prejudice. The vibrant costumes, diverse casting and juicy drama has made it a popular show, providing the escapism we needed to help us digest and leave 2020 behind. Although each episode is quite long, it’s difficult not to binge it all in one day. For those who have finished it, and while we wait for confirmation of a second season, here are some period dramas that Bridgerton fans are sure to love.
The period drama most similar to Bridgerton that fans would enjoy is Dickinson. Even though they are set in different time periods, both shows provide a more modern take, have an uplifting mood and tackle similar topics that are still prevalent today. Available on Apple TV, Dickinson is a historical drama and comedy about the famous poet Emily Dickinson, who is played by Hailee Steinfeld, and her struggles as a woman living in 19th century American society. Each episode highlights a different poem written by Emily, with each episode actually being named after the poems. What’s particularly interesting about this show is how it incorporates hip-hop music in its soundtrack, includes modern-day references and even stars Wiz Khalifa. This uniqueness makes Dickinson an intriguing and entertaining show to watch, especially if you’re craving a period drama with a very modern twist.
While it’s not necessarily a period drama, Derry Girls is set in Derry, Northern Ireland during the 1990s against the backdrop of a nationalist, political conflict known as “The Troubles”. This show is a coming-of-age comedy that explores the lives of five teenagers and their families during such unstable times. The struggles and dysfunctionality of the characters will probably have you laughing in the first five minutes, especially if you can pick up on some of the Irish slang. Its dark humor and sarcasm makes Derry Girls a lively and upbeat show that’s perfect for watching during these dreary, hectic times. What Bridgerton fans will love is that the actress who plays Penelope is actually one of the main characters in this show. What’s even better is that with only six episodes per season and about 22 minutes per episode, this Netflix original is dangerously easy to binge watch!
If you’re looking for a show with more chaotic energy and comedy, then you should definitely give The Great a try. This period drama, which is available on Hulu, is a satirical take on Catherine the Great and her rocky relationship with her husband, Peter III the Emperor of Russia. The show starts with her moving to Russia and marrying Peter, where she soon realizes that the Russian court is quite cruel and unpredictable, much like her husband. The first, and so far only, season focuses on Catherine’s plan to kill her husband and take the throne so as to create a more progressive, humane Russia. While the show does have more mature themes and scenes, The Great uses great satire and comedy to balance these themes in order to exaggerate the ridicule and chaos of Peter and his court in the 18th century.
Another popular period drama on Netflix is Reign, which is set in the 16th century and circles around the life of Mary Queen of Scots. The show starts with Mary being sent to French court to marry Francis, the next King of France, as she learns how to navigate the dark and political forces conspiring against her. Though it’s not historically accurate, the show still gives much insight into the challenges faced by Mary, especially the struggle over the English throne with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England. From love triangles and affairs to poisonings and betrayals, this show has plenty of drama and romance in all four of its seasons, each one being more intense than the last. Beautiful yet heartbreaking, Reign is definitely a must-watch period drama that’ll have you hooked as soon as you see Francis and Bash.
If you couldn’t get enough of Simon and Daphne’s chemistry in Bridgerton, then you’ll love the romance in Outlander. While visiting Scotland, the show’s main character, Claire, who is a married WWII nurse, accidentally travels back in time to 1743. As she struggles to adjust to her new reality and time period, she meets a handsome Highlander named Jamie and together they get pulled into the Jacobite rebellion, which Claire already knows is doomed to fail. This show, which is available on Netflix, has intense action and romance that those who particularly liked the last few episodes of Bridgerton will enjoy. However, it is important to note that this show does tackle more serious issues and includes some triggering scenes. Additionally, it might be slower than some of the other shows listed here, but Jamie and Claire’s chemistry will make it worthwhile.
Another great period drama is Poldark, which is available on Amazon Prime. The show is based in Cornwall, England during the late 18th century and focuses on the life of the main character, Ross Poldark. After fighting the colonists in the American Revolution, he returns to Cornwall, only to find that his father has passed away and left him with practically nothing, and his true love engaged to someone else. The series then follows his attempts to return to normalcy and build a new life. The beautiful scenery and picturesque film locations will make you wish you were with Ross looking dramatically out to sea as the wind blows through your hair. Also, you might recognize Sabrina Barlett, who plays Siena on Bridgerton, as she stars in this show. Though there might not be as much drama in Poldark, you will definitely fall in love with Ross and find yourself wishing you were in Cornwall.
A period piece you’ve probably seen pop up on your Netflix is The Crown. While this show is still a fictional drama, it is probably the most historically accurate of all these shows since it follows the history of the British royal family under Queen Elizabeth II’s rule. The Crown emphasizes some of the most defining, real life events that have happened during the Queen’s reign. Each season focuses on specific time periods, with the first season focusing on the first few years of Elizabeth as monarch during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Season 4, the most recent season released and perhaps one of the most popular ones, follows the 1980s and early 1990s, which introduces the unforgettable Lady Diana. Every two seasons there is a new cast, and you’ll actually find one of the actors from Outlander on this show. Elegant, raw, and powerful, The Crown will provide the perfect amount of history and tea!
Hopefully those of you who have watched Bridgerton will give one of these period dramas a try. All of these shows are quite different, but you might find yourself falling in love with them as I have. Enjoy!