10 Alternate Dives Through History
Bridgerton is the latest period drama to be released on Netflix, combining elements of Downtown Abbey and Gossip Girl to produce a diverse and different slice of historical fiction.
If you’ve finished streaming this one and are itching for more, we’ve combed through the archives and saved you the hassle of having to try and find something similar with our top 10 picks.
To keep things simple for skim-readers we’ve added what similarities these have.
Of course for all the shows we’ve reviewed, we’ve also added a handy link so you can check out our full thoughts on that series and see if it’s something you want to invest your time with.
So without further ado, we present 10 TV shows that should whet the appetite when you’ve finished streaming Bridgerton.
Similarities – Tone & Characters
Given Bridgerton is clearly inspired by Downtown Abbey, it seems obvious then that this would make our list. For those unaware, Downtown Abbey is a highly popular British series which chronicles the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early 20th Century.
The costuming and lavish set design really helps breathe life into this one but Downtown Abbey is not just a pretty face. What makes this show so absorbing is the way its characters interact and grow across the span of 6 seasons while interweaving real-life events into the story.
The first episode for example, begins things with a bombshell reveal as the current heir to the title and the fiancé of the Earl’s daughter die onboard the Titanic. As the family struggle to make sense of it all, the new legal heirs arrive to live on the Estate, predictably causing lots of friction and hostilities.
From here, the story grows and evolves over time, eventually settling on something that’s very easy to pick up and very difficult to put down.
Call The Midwife
Similarities – Characters & Social Themes
Call The Midwife is pretty much exactly what you’d expect it to be. Centering on a group of midwives living in East London, this period drama is both well written and a cleverly disguised commentary on social class, the role of women in the late 50’s and a stark look at poverty.
The first season begins with a nurse called Jenny Lee arriving at Nonnatus House in London ready to begin working as a midwife. Playing out the “fish out of water” trope, Call The Midwife cleverly works this around a more expansive story that encapsulates several other nurses, lots of romance and plenty of drama along the way.
The performances from all involved are excellent and despite its lengthy run-time, never lets up on any of its core values across the expansive 10 seasons. This one’s a must-watch.
Similarities – Romance
If you’re looking for a decent adaptation from book to small screen, look no further than Outlander. At its core, the story revolves around an English combat nurse in 1945 called Claire Randall. Somehow she travels through time to 18th Century Scotland and straight into the arms of dashing Jamie Fraser.
This unlikely romance goes on to evolve and grow over time, combining several different genres including historical fiction, adventure, fantasy and melodrama. It’s this blending of genres that make Outlander such an enthralling watch and while the later seasons do meander a little at times, there’s enough here to enjoy nonetheless.
Similarities – Characters & Themes
Sky Castle boasts one of the highest network ratings (reaching nearly 24.5% during its finale) and for good reason too. It’s a remarkable feat, especially when you look back and see the drama hit a measly 1% with its opening episode.
This satirical drama revolves around four housewives residing in an exclusive residential area, desperate to get their kids into university no matter the cost.
While simple in theory, Sky Castle’s examination of class and culture is partly why the show works as well as it does. Alongside this are numerous thought provoking discussions around the parental pressure of excelling at school. All of this combines to make Sky Castle one of the best Korean dramas out there.
Similarities – Soapy Drama
Korean drama Penthouse is pure Makjang. To Koreans, this term simply means extremely dramatized and exaggerated to the point of turning into an exciting guilty pleasure where anything could happen. This, as it turns out, perfectly exemplifies The Penthouse.
With a rare 3 season order and lots of drama across its expansive seasons, Penthouse’s main storyline surrounds a girl called Seol-A who’s pushed off the 49th floor of a lavish apartment complex called Hera Palace to her death. Who pushed her? And why? While the murder mystery element does take up a good chunk of time here, it’s the various affairs, relationships and scandalous twists that really make this such an enthralling watch.
There’s a whole array of different characters here and the villains really are easy to hate. If you’re looking for a solid binge-watch, this one may not be a period drama but it does exemplify the same dramatic hallmarks Bridgerton has.
Similarities – Period Drama
With Jenna Coleman in the driving seat, Victoria was originally set to be a stand-alone mini-series in the UK. After receiving a substantial amount of views, ITV scrapped those plans and instead hastily green-lit a second (and later third) season order.
In its simplest form, Victoria depicts the early life of Queen Victoria from her ascension to the throne at the age of 18 through to her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert. Of course, all the political trickery, deception and manipulation shows up across the season which Victoria does her best to dodge.
It can be a little soapy at times but on the whole Victoria does a wonderful job bringing this period of time to life and does so with some fine performances from most of its main cast.
Similarities – Social Issues
Produced way back in 1971, Upstairs, Downstairs centers around the trials and tribulations of the British aristocratic Bellamy family and their household staff. Although the “upper class” Bellamy’s are the central focus in the public eye, it’s the “downstairs” personnel that steal the show.
The various relationships, issues and stories of the workers busying around the house are incredibly sympathetic and play on those age-old social issues thanks to a growing rift between the rich and the poor.
Organizing the workers is a Scottish butler called Hudson who really steals the show here. However, each of the characters showcased are perfectly designed and memorable in their own right.
If that wasn’t enough, Upstairs, Downstairs cleverly weaves in real-life events that occurred within England between 1903 and 1930 for an added slice of authenticity.
Similarities – London & Characters
While not quite ascending to the same lofty heights as Downtown Abbey, Belgravia is an absorbing and engrossing period drama nonetheless. It’s a show that takes a much bleaker, grittier tone to depict the mood of Britain, taking place a century earlier.
Instead of the country house in Abbey however, Belgravia sets its roots firmly in London within an extremely lavish, upper-class neighbourhood bordering Buckingham Palace.
It won’t be for everyone but if you’re in the mood for more high-society drama with a little less soapy melodrama, Belgravia is certainly worth a look.
Similarities – Period Drama
When it comes to a list of the best period dramas released from Netflix, The Crown is certainly near the top of the list.
Following the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, this ever-popular period drama blends romance and character relations beautifully into a very stylish and impressive production.
Much like Stranger Things, this is one of the few Netflix Originals that have gone the distance and made it over that dreaded 3 season hurdle. This is a must-watch series, whether you’re a fan of period dramas or not, and definitely worth checking out.
Similarities – Romance
Gran Hotel revolves around a family-owned hotel set in the fictional coastal Spanish town of Cantaloa. The costume and production design oozes a wonderful 1900’s aesthetic and balances that with a heady cocktail of romance, drama, comedy and shocks.
The story centers on Julio, who arrives as a waiter at the hotel and engages in a steamy affair with the owner’s daughter. All the while, he’s out to investigate the disappearance of his sister.
On the surface, this seems like a very simple Spanish series but Gran Hotel quickly establishes itself as an addictive binge that’s very difficult to put down. There’s a lot of drama across its season too and it’s mixed in perfectly with the mystery elements to keep you coming back for more.
So there we have it, our 10 TV show alternatives to Netflix’s latest period drama Bridgerton.
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!