If you happen to fall into a Netflix hole one Sunday afternoon, do try and make it a historical one. I live for the period drama. I love the glamour, the romance, the dramatisation of the past and it truly gives you a chance to escape and relive it when you see it brought to life on screen.
Since falling head over heels in love with Downton Abbey (all six seasons plus Christmas specials are on Amazon Instant Video, your welcs) I’ve become a woman obsessed with period dramas. I even wrapped all my Christmas pressies in brown paper and red ribbon after watching Anna wrap one present at Downton.
So if you are also a fellow history fan this post is for you my friends. Netflix is a treasure trove of good shows and there are some real gems lurking beneath Gossip Girl, Breaking Bad and Riverdale. Not that those three aren’t gems but these shows I’m about to point you in the direction of fit into the historical-lose-yourself-in-the-past-for-a-bit niche. Again, your welcs.
I read about the Victoria Christmas special ‘Comfort and Joy’ in the tele magazine and decided to stick it on even though I had watched none of the previous series. It was about a Victorian Christmas and how Albert shaped the celebrations we have today and it just seemed so beautiful. I only watched about 30 minutes of it as hey, I had no clue what was going on and I hadn’t seen the earlier episodes.
But after noticing Victoria was on Netflix I decided to watch. Jenna Coleman is so good as Victoria, a regal but inexperienced queen. It is crazy to think that most of the story is true and that it happened. I loved the slow burning romance between Albert and Victoria in the first season, a marriage they both didn’t want to happen but ended up being happily married and eight children.
Okay, I admit, Land Girls is a bit shit. But it is easy to watch and not too distressing. It follows four members of the Land Girls Army in rural England in World War II. It is a bit cringe and the storylines move so quickly it is a bit like a soap and each episode finishes on an annoying staged cliffhanger. But I promise it isn’t all bad.
The main characters are pretty likeable, especially the paternal relationship between Farmer Finch and Martin, the warden Esther’s son, working together on the farm. I’m also a big supporter of the relationship between Billy and Bea. It is quite frustrating at some points but you don’t feel too attached to any characters so it isn’t devastating when someone dies or a storyline breaks down.
Definitely one of the most glitzy watches, Mr Selfridge follows the beginning of Selfridges & Co. on Oxford Street in the early 1900s. Harry Gordon Selfridge moves his family over from Chicago to open the greatest department store in London, each episode watches another development of the store whilst following the progression of the cast.
Mr Selfridge himself is the ultimate playboy and it makes me so sad how he treated his lovely wife Rose. I couldn’t abide Ellen Love or the sleazy journalist or Lady Mae but I adored following the stories of the shop workers. Each episode contrasts the glamorous elements of the store with the un-glamourous aspects of life and it does it so perfectly.
This is definitely one of the most popular TV shows at the moment. The first three seasons are on Netflix if you fancy getting involved. Set in Birmingham and beginning in 1919, it follows the Peaky Blinders led by Tommy Shelby. It is dirty, rough, harsh and at times, romantic.
Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby is one reason to watch but the whole Shelby family are pretty amazing. Aunt Polly is fearless, John is a v good gangster, Arthur is unhinged and Michael is desperate to follow the family path. I love the setting of Birmingham as opposed to London as it gives greater chance of expansion in the later seasons.
Reign is definitely not historically accurate in any capacity but that doesn’t stop it being great. It isn’t a marvel of period drama like Downton Abbey but it is quite gripping and hilarious. American versions of history are always hilarious so the depiction of French Royal Court and Mary, Queen of Scots is not at all true but it doesn’t stop it being really good.
The dresses (although not historical) are beautiful. The music is also lovely. The cast of characters is really good and I loved Catherine de Medici, she was the perfect bad guy. The one you love to hate – it wouldn’t be the same without her.
Call The Midwife
Couldn’t talk about period dramas on Netflix and not give a shout out to Call The Midwife. I honestly didn’t think I would adore this show as much as I did. It is so raw and honest and heartbreaking but there are good and happy moments too. I love all the characters, the nuns, Dr Turner, the midwives and their friends and family.
I love the representation of a community, that struggles but also thrives. I loved the introduction of Philip Worth at the end of season three and the marriage of Chummy and PC Noakes. I cry at almost every episode as there is a baby being born and it is usually emotional. It always leaves me appreciating the little things in life as it is just such a raw and strip backed show.
Also heard v good things about Alias Grace, The Crown and Poldark so maybe they will be my next hits. Outlander, another Amazon Instant Video gem, is also a smasher if you like the Scots and amazing scenery.
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