More Period Dramas To Sink Your Teeth Into
The Gilded Age is the latest series from the mind of Julian Fellowes. The mix of period drama, scandal and simmering tensions certainly makes for an intriguing show.
If you’ve finished watching this and are looking for alternate series, fret not! We’ve combed through the archives and saved you the hassle of having to try and find something similar with our top 10 picks for alternate viewing.
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 The Gilded Age.
Similarities – Tone & Characters
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 first episode 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 hostility.
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.
Similarities – Romance & Drama
Bridgerton blends elements of Gossip Girl and Downtown Abbey across its 1800’s England storyline. Queen Charlotte is on the throne and society is predominantly divided between two upper-class families – the Featheringtons and the Bridgertons.
The centerpiece for this tale is Daphne Bridgerton who gains the Queen’s favour during the upcoming season of societal balls and wedding proposals.
One such person is the Duke Of Hastings, Simon Basset, who remains determined to stay a bachelor for as long as possible.
Predictably, Daphne and Simon hit it off but decide to fake their relationship as a way of making Daphne more desirable. This is typical rom-com territory and Bridgerton unashamedly hits all the usual tropes you’d expect from this genre.
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 – 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.
Similarities – 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 – Drama & Characters
Reading the synopsis to Harlots you’d be forgiven for writing this one off as another period drama pretender. That would certainly be a mistake as Harlots proves you can never judge a book by its cover.
The main drama here centers on brothel owner Margaret Wells, who struggles to raise her daughters in London during the 18th century. Written and directed by women, Harlots has a distinct feminine touch and accurately depicts the harsh realities for ladies during the 18th century.
Harlots is certainly not a melodrama though, especially with its plot line revolving around rival brothel owners, Lesley Manville and Samantha Morton, locked in a bitter feud with one another. Spanning two seasons, things predictably escalate over the course of the episodes with plenty of betrayals, romance and light touches of social and class issues for good measure.
Similarities – Characters & Social Themes
If you’re after a tense, intriguing and utterly enthralling period drama, Versailles should be on your radar.
The year is 1667, and the story follows the 28 year old king of France, Louis XIV. He decides to set out and build the greatest palace in the world – Versailles. In order to do that, he decides to transition his father’s hunting lodge into a grand palace.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Between budget woes, affairs, rivals and political scheming, Versailles is a heady cocktail of delicious period drama.
Pride and Prejudice
Similarities – Romance & Class Issues
Released back in 1995, this serial adaptation of Jane Austin’s inspired novel is a real peach of a show.
The story, for those unaware, revolves around the budding romance of opinionated Elizabeth Bennet, who’s matched with the witty Mr. Darcy. This isn’t a smooth ride though, and instead we see the turbulent relationship between the two develop over time.
The set design and costuming is beautifully presented, while the dialogue crackles as the chemistry blossoms between the different actors.
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 – Themes & Class
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.
So there we have it, our 10 TV show picks to check out when you’re finished with The Gilded Age.
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!