Welcome to our newest series. In “Friday Favorites,” our team will share a handful of favorite items. These can range from clothes to beauty products to recipes to books and anything in between.
When I signed up to provide you with a list of my top five favorite period dramas, I did not take into consideration the fact that it would be nearly impossible for me to narrow my list down to only five.
From PBS’s Masterpiece Theater to Starz and every streaming service in between, I’ve completely submerged myself into the pool of historical period dramas that are available for our viewing pleasure. I can assure you that the storylines are rich, and the leading men are quite tasty. Nevertheless, a list of my favorites must be produced and so I present to you… Heather’s favorite period dramas.
**Please note the following dramas are appropriate for adults, not children.**
It’s hard to imagine Reign being on the bottom of any list with its beautiful cast, gorgeous costumes, and energy-filled soundtrack. But somebody has to fill the spot. Reign is an American drama that follows Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, as she returns to France to her betrothed, Prince Francis of France. This four-season series is dripping with seduction, betrayal, and all the power struggles to become the one who reigns. Often referred to as a “fantasy historical drama”, Reign is different than most period dramas as the writers have taken many liberties with historical accuracy and often present their characters, costumes, and music with a modern twist. This just makes the show edgy and completely captivating. Reign can be binged on Netflix.
Next on my list is the reinvented 1970’s classic, Poldark. This British drama is originally based off of the book series by the same title. This historical drama embraces one of my favorite romantic tropes, allowing Captain Ross Poldark to fall in love with and marry his scullery maid, Demelza. This five-season series follows Captain Poldark, a redcoat, as he returns to Cornwall from the American Revolutionary War, only to find his father deceased, the love of his life engaged to his cousin, and his estate in shambles. Poldark showcases some of the most beautiful English countryside, a dynamic cast, and great tales of love and adventure. Poldark can be binged on Amazon Prime Video, PBS, or BBC One.
I will confess that Downton Abbey was the first period drama that I ever binge-watched, and it is entirely to blame for my overall historical fiction obsession. This six-season British drama depicts the lives of the fictional aristocratic Crawley family who live at Downton Abbey as well as those of their staff who live downstairs. It’s this juxtaposition of the rich and the poor – all residing under the same roof, all so very different and yet also very much the same – which makes Downton Abbey so irresistible. Scandal, romance, and quick wit make this show worth watching over and over again. Downton Abbey can be binged on Amazon Prime Video.
I never imagined this show slipping from #1 on my list, but I assure you that it is a very close second. Outlander is a historical drama set in… well… everywhere.
It starts by introducing our heroine, Claire Randall, a British nurse who has just returned from serving in WWII. She and her husband visit Inverness, Scotland where she is accidentally transported back to the year 1743 by passing through the stones of the fictitious Craigh na Dun. If you enjoy hunky Scotsmen in kilts, Scottish accents, fiery passion, and a touch of science fiction, this is your show.
While some scenes are difficult to watch, the realism of this show is part of its draw. This five-season series hops from period to period and continent to continent, never giving the viewer the chance to get bored. Season Six is currently being filmed, and I can’t wait to see what Claire and Jaime will face next. Outlander can be binged on Netflix, Starz, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
Topping my list as my favorite period drama is the new historical fiction series, Bridgerton. As members of London’s high society, the eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family fight for love, status, and to stay out of the ever-scandalous gossip column written by Lady Whistledown. Bridgerton is based off of a series of novels by Julia Quinn; when producer Shonda Rimes (think Grey’s Anatomy) took over, she took these stories up one more level of brilliance by setting them in a racially integrated alternate history. I love Quinn’s storyline so much that I also included her in my recent list of favorite historical fiction authors. The cast is beautiful. The writing is exceptional. And Bridgerton will have you speaking like Lady Whistledown in no time. Season two is currently being filmed but in the meantime, you can binge season one on Netflix.