Period dramas have been around for centuries, and their popularity has only grown with time. Whether you are a fan of historical facts or simply enjoy the romanticism of bygone eras, there is something enchanting about watching characters from another time come to life on the screen.
Period dramas offer an escape to another world where societal norms were different, dress codes were distinct, and manners meant everything.
From Jane Austen’s iconic novels like “Pride and Prejudice” to shows set in more recent times like the 1960s classic “Mad Men,” period dramas offer something for everyone.
They take us on journeys through history; we experience eras that are long gone but still manage to capture our hearts and imaginations. Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic epic set in 18th century France or a gritty look at Victorian London’s underbelly, there is something on this list for everyone. With so many streaming platforms available today, it can be difficult to know which period dramas are worth your time and attention.
We have done the research for you and compiled a list of some of the best period dramas out there.
Best period dramas to stream
Downton Abbey” (2010-2015) – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
When it comes to period dramas, Downton Abbey is a must-watch for any fan of the genre. Set in early 20th-century England, this beloved series follows the lives and loves of the aristocratic Crawley family and their household staff.
With exceptional acting, stunning costumes and sets, intricate storylines full of drama and romance, Downton Abbey truly captures audiences’ hearts. One of the most captivating aspects of “Downton Abbey” is its attention to detail in set design, costumes, and historical accuracy. The show transports viewers into a lavish world that feels both familiar yet far removed from our own.
Pride and Prejudice” (1995) – Streaming on Hulu
Pride and Prejudice is a timeless classic that has captivated audiences for generations. The 1995 adaptation, now streaming on Hulu, beautifully captures the romance and social commentary of Jane Austen’s novel. Jennifer Ehle is brilliant as Elizabeth Bennet, who has to fight through societal expectations and her own preconceptions to find love with Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy..
The dynamic between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is one of the most iconic love stories ever told on screen. The chemistry between these two characters is palpable, as they navigate their way through misunderstandings and societal norms to find true happiness together.
While the costumes and decorum may seem outdated to modern viewers, the themes of Pride and Prejudice remain relevant today. The pressure to conform to society’s norms, the class divide between rich and poor, and the struggle for women’s independence are all issues that continue to be debated in contemporary society.
Pride and Prejudice remains one of literature’s greatest works – brought brilliantly to life by this masterful adaptation which can now be enjoyed from anywhere thanks to Hulu!
“The Crown” (2016-present) – Streaming on Netflix
The Crown” offers a gripping portrayal of historical events and the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. It provides insights into the political and social dynamics of post-World War II Britain and the challenges faced by the royal family.
If you enjoy historical dramas with a focus on real-life events, “The Crown” will be an engaging watch. The series delves into the lives of the royal family members, exploring their personal struggles, relationships, and inner conflicts.
The Crown” features exceptional performances from its cast, which includes acclaimed actors such as Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, and Tobias Menzies. Their performances bring the characters to life, making them relatable and compelling. The acting prowess displayed throughout the series adds an extra layer of authenticity to the storytelling. has received widespread critical acclaim for its storytelling, performances, and production values.
It has won numerous awards, including Golden Globe Awards and Primetime Emmy Awards. I loved all the seasons of the series and practically I could say this is perhaps Netflix’s one of the best originals.
Outlander” (2014-present) Streaming on Netflix
Outlander is a unique period drama that takes the audience on an epic journey through time-travel, romance, and adventure. Based on Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling book series, Outlander follows Claire Randall, a married English nurse in 1945 who finds herself transported to 1743 Scotland after touching some standing stones. There she meets and falls in love with Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior who becomes her ally as she navigates this dangerous new world.
The show does an excellent job of bringing historical events and cultural customs to life while also incorporating elements of fantasy. The stunning Scottish landscapes act as a backdrop for the well-crafted characters and their intricate relationships.
As fans of the books know well, there are plenty of twists and turns along the way as we follow this dynamic duo across centuries. We see them struggle to stay together despite forces pushing them apart – from political upheaval to family secrets. A beautiful story indeed.
The Tudors” (2007-2010) Streaming on Hulu
The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII, is a riveting and visually stunning portrayal of one of England’s most iconic monarchs. With its lush costumes, intricate set designs, and dynamic performances by an all-star cast, this historical drama brings to life the intrigue and scandal that surrounded Henry’s reign.
But what sets The Tudors apart from other period dramas is its unflinching exploration of power dynamics between men and women in 16th century Europe. From Catherine of Aragon’s struggle to maintain her place as queen to Anne Boleyn’s political maneuvering in pursuit of the crown, this series digs deep into the complex relationships that defined one of history’s most tumultuous times.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers delivers a captivating performance as King Henry VIII, showcasing both his charisma and ruthless nature. The Tudors is a masterful exploration of character development that highlights the fragility of human nature in times of great power and responsibility.
Bridgerton” (2020-present) Streaming on Netflix
“Bridgerton” is based on a series of historical romance novels by Julia Quinn and follows the lives of the Bridgerton family and their quest for love and happiness in Regency-era London.
The series boasts lavish production design, featuring stunning costumes, elaborate sets, and opulent settings that transport viewers to the Regency era. The debutante Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter, becomes the focus of the season as she enters the marriage market in search of a suitable match. As the series progresses, “Bridgerton” delves into the lives of other members of the Bridgerton family and their romantic pursuits.
Each episode explores themes of love, class, identity, and the pursuit of happiness within the constraints of society. The show also examines the struggles and sacrifices faced by women during this era, as they navigate societal expectations and strive for independence. It has been praised for its diverse casting choices, bringing a fresh perspective to the historical romance genre.
North and South” (2004) Streaming on Netflix
North and South, the BBC television adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, is a must-watch for all period drama enthusiasts. Set against the backdrop of the industrial revolution in northern England, it tells the story of Margaret Hale, a young woman who moves from rural southern England to Milton where she meets John Thornton, a wealthy cotton mill owner struggling to navigate changes in industry and society.
The series explores the social issues of class struggles, gender inequality, worker exploitation and cultural differences. While North and South may be nearly two decades old at this point, its relevance has not diminished over time.
The show’s exploration of issues still resonates with viewers today. So, if you are looking for some binge-worthy entertainment that will transport you back in time, you could count on this historic drama.
Call the Midwife” (2012-present) Streaming on Netflix
“Call the Midwife” is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a midwife who worked in the impoverished East End of London in the 1950s and 1960s. The series follows the lives of a group of midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House as they provide medical care and support to the local community, particularly to pregnant women and families in need.
Set in the post-World War II era, the show offers a unique and intimate portrayal of midwifery and healthcare during a time of significant social and medical changes.
It explores the challenges and triumphs faced by midwives as they navigate the complexities of childbirth, maternal health, poverty, and societal issues. It has received critical acclaim for its emotional storytelling, strong performances, and its ability to tackle challenging subject matters with compassion. It has garnered a dedicated fan base and continues to be a beloved and enduring series, with multiple seasons available for streaming on Netflix.
The White Queen” (2013) Streaming on Starz
“The White Queen” is set during the tumultuous period of the Wars of the Roses in England, a series of civil wars fought between two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of York and the House of Lancaster.
The series focuses on the stories of three influential women who played significant roles during this time: Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville. Elizabeth Woodville, played by Rebecca Ferguson, is a commoner who captures the attention and love of King Edward IV, portrayed by Max Irons.
As the titular White Queen, she rises from obscurity to become a central figure in the political intrigues of the era. Margaret Beaufort, portrayed by Amanda Hale, is a devout and ambitious Lancastrian heiress. She is determined to see her son, Henry Tudor, ascend to the throne, sparking a fierce rivalry with Elizabeth Woodville. Anne Neville, played by Faye Marsay, is the daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker.
She becomes caught in the shifting loyalties and manipulations of her father and eventually marries Richard, Duke of Gloucester, played by Aneurin Barnard. The series offers a mix of historical accuracy and fictional storytelling, while it takes some creative liberties, it aims to provide an immersive experience into the lives and perspectives of these influential women and the world they inhabited.
Poldark” (2015-2019) Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Poldark, a British period drama set in the late 18th century, is an enthralling tale of love, loss and redemption. The protagonist Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner) returns from the American Revolutionary War to find his life turned upside down. His father is dead, his family’s estate is in ruins and the woman he loves has moved on.
As Poldark struggles to rebuild his life and fortune, he faces formidable challenges including rivalries with wealthy landowners, political intrigue and personal tragedies that test his character. Like any good period drama, “Poldark” is full of romance, intrigue, betrayal, and class conflict.
But it also touches on important issues like slavery abolitionism and women’s rights. The show has been praised for its strong performances. As a viewer, I would recommend watching this period historical drama series if you are looking for such genres.
“Mad Men” (2007-2015) Streaming on Netflix
“Mad Men” is a critically acclaimed period drama series that originally aired from 2007 to 2015. “Mad Men” is set primarily in the 1960s and follows the professional and personal lives of advertising executives working on Madison Avenue in New York City.
The series provides a captivating glimpse into the world of the glamorous and cutthroat advertising industry during a transformative era in American history. It is known for its meticulous attention to detail in recreating the time period, from the fashion and set design to the cultural references and historical events.
Beyond its historical context, “Mad Men” delves deep into the complexities of its characters, exploring their flaws, desires, and personal struggles. It has won numerous awards, praises and attention from all across the world.
Harlots” (2017-2019) Streaming on Hulu
The story centers around two competing brothels: Margaret Wells’ establishment in Covent Garden and Lydia Quigley’s high-class brothel in Golden Square. The two women engage in a fierce rivalry as they vie for wealth, influence, and control over their businesses.
Set in 18th century London and explores the lives of brothel owners, prostitutes, and their clients. The series delves into the intricate world of the city’s sex trade, revealing the power struggles, rivalries, and survival tactics employed by the women involved.
The production design of “Harlots” authentically recreates the sights and sounds of 18th century London, immersing viewers in the gritty and vibrant atmosphere of the time. The costumes, sets, and overall period detail contribute to the show’s excellence.
If you are interested in historical dramas that explore themes of female empowerment, social dynamics, it is a series worth checking out on Hulu.
Gentleman Jack” Streaming on HBO Max
“Gentleman Jack” is based on the remarkable life of Anne Lister, a 19th-century English landowner, diarist, and lesbian. Set in the 1830s in Halifax, West Yorkshire, the series follows Anne Lister, played by Suranne Jones, as she navigates her relationships, ambitions, and societal expectations in a time when same-sex relationships were highly taboo.
The show explores Anne Lister’s efforts to restore her family estate, Shibden Hall, and her quest for love and companionship. Known for her sharp mind, determination, and masculine style of dressing, Anne Lister defies gender norms and becomes a prominent figure in her community.
One of the central storylines of “Gentleman Jack” revolves around Anne Lister’s romantic relationship with Ann Walker, their complex and evolving relationship forms the heart of the series. If you have an interest in historical dramas, LGBTQ+ representation, or strong female-led narratives, consider watching “Gentleman Jack” on HBO Max.
Belgravia” (2020) Streaming on Epix
“Belgravia” is based on the novel of the same name by Julian Fellowes, the creator of the highly acclaimed series “Downton Abbey.” Set in the 19th century, the story begins in 1815 at the famous ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo.
It follows the lives of two families, the upper-class Trenchards and the aristocratic Brockenhursts, whose fates become intertwined as a secret from the past threatens to resurface. The show examines themes such as class, ambition, betrayal, and the power of secrets in shaping lives and relationships like most of the periodic dramas of the era. There are enough twists and turns to keep the audience hooked throughout.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” (2012-2015) Streaming on Acorn TV
Set in 1920s Melbourne, Australia, “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” follows the adventures of the fearless and fashionable detective, Phryne Fisher, portrayed by Essie Davis. Phryne is a wealthy and independent woman with a sharp wit and a taste for adventure. She becomes a private detective, using her intelligence, resourcefulness, and unconventional methods to solve crimes that baffle the police.
Each episode features a standalone murder mystery that Phryne and her trusted allies, unravels. What sets “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” apart is its vibrant and stylish depiction of 1920s Melbourne.
The series beautifully captures the glamour, decadence, and societal changes of the era, immersing viewers in a world of jazz clubs, flapper fashion, and social revolution. If you enjoy detective dramas with a unique and vibrant setting, strong female protagonists, and a mix of suspense and charm, “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” is definitely worth exploring on Acorn TV.
Wolf Hall” (2015) Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Based on the acclaimed novels by Hilary Mantel, “Wolf Hall” takes place in 16th-century England and offers a fictionalized account of the rise to power of Thomas Cromwell, a key figure in the court of King Henry VIII.
The series follows Cromwell’s journey from his humble beginnings as a blacksmith’s son to becoming a trusted advisor to the king, navigating the complex world of court politics and dealing with the religious upheavals of the time.
“Wolf Hall” explores the power dynamics and the intricate relationships between the characters, including Cromwell’s interactions with other influential figures such as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce) and Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy).
One of the notable aspects of “Wolf Hall” is its focus on Cromwell’s perspective, providing a fresh take on the familiar Tudor narrative. The series offers a more sympathetic portrayal of Cromwell, challenging traditional depictions of him as a villain and presenting him as a complex and multifaceted character. If you are looking for the best period drama to stream, you can watch this for sure.
The Alienist” (2018-present) Streaming on Netflix
The Alienist” is based on the bestselling novel by Caleb Carr and takes place in 1890s New York City. The series follows a team of unlikely allies—a criminal psychologist (known as an alienist), a newspaper illustrator, and a police secretary—as they investigate a series of gruesome murders targeting young male prostitutes.
The unique blend of psychological profiling and forensic investigation adds depth and complexity to the story. The central mystery in “The Alienist” unfolds over the course of the series, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. As the team uncovers clues and tries to understand the mind of the killer, the suspense and tension build, leading to unexpected twists and turns. The narrative keeps audiences engaged and invested enough.
Indian Summers” (2015-2016) Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Set in the early 20th century, “Indian Summers” takes place during the final years of British colonial rule in India. The series is set in the fictional town of Simla, which serves as the summer capital for the British Raj.
Against the backdrop of simmering political tensions and cultural clashes, the show explores the lives of both the British colonialists and the Indian natives. The show beautifully captures the lush landscapes of the Himalayan foothills, where Simla is located, as well as the opulent lifestyles of the British colonial elite.
The series confronts the legacy of British colonialism and raises important questions about power, privilege, and the impact of imperialism on both the colonizers and the colonized. If you are interested in historical dramas that explore the complexities of colonialism, “Indian Summers” is a series worth watching on Amazon Prime Video.
Parade’s End” (2012) Streaming on HBO Max
Parade’s End is a British period drama television series that takes us back to World War I era. The show depicts the life of Christopher Tietjens, a highly principled and reserved aristocrat, who is struggling to stay sane amidst the chaos of war while holding onto his love for his unfaithful wife Sylvia.
The series boasts impressive performances from all cast members, particularly Benedict Cumberbatch whose portrayal of Tietjens is nuanced and captivating. Streamed on HBO Max since its release in 2012, Parade’s End still remains one of the most compelling BBC dramas ever produced.
Based on Ford Madox Ford’s novel ‘The four final years,’ it perfectly conveys all economic class tensions leading up to WWI along with featuring female characters exploring their role in society.
“War and Peace” (2016) Streaming on Hulu
“War and Peace” (2016) is a stunning adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel that will keep you captivated from beginning to end. Set against the backdrop of 19th century Russia, this period drama chronicles the lives of several aristocratic families as they navigate love, war, and social upheaval. War and Peace” has everything you could want in a historical drama: gorgeous costumes, lush settings, sweeping romances and epic battle scenes.
Despite its lengthy runtime, “War and Peace” captivates with a tight narrative that never loses momentum. Each character has their own unique motivations riding on both personal desires as well as those dictated by society. One of the best period dramas to stream indeed.
“Alias Grace” (2017) Streaming on Netflix
“Alias Grace,” based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, is a haunting tale of murder and mystery set in 19th century Canada. The miniseries follows the story of Grace Marks, a convicted murderer who claims to have no memory of the crime she was accused of committing.
The series beautifully weaves together suspenseful moments with poignant flashbacks that reveal not only Grace’s past but also how society treated women like her.
At its core, Alias Grace is a commentary on power dynamics within gender roles. Sarah Gadon delivers a standout performance as Grace while Anna Paquin excels as Nancy Montgomery – one of the victims in the murder case. With its intricate plot twists and historical accuracy, this gripping tale will keep you hooked until the very end. It is one of the best limited miniseries on netflix to stream.
The Great” (2020-present) Streaming on Hulu
“The Great” is a witty and irreverent take on the life of Catherine the Great, one of Russia’s most powerful rulers. Elle Fanning plays Catherine and Nicholas Hoult portrays Peter III in the show, which follows their marriage and political issues in 18th century Russia.
The show doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the time period but manages to maintain its comedic tone throughout. While some historical accuracy may have been sacrificed in favor of entertainment value, “The Great” still manages to capture the essence of power struggles and female empowerment during Catherine’s reign.
“Mr. Selfridge” (2013-2016) Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Mr. Selfridge takes us back to the early days of department stores and retail therapy in London, UK. Based on the true story of Harry Gordon Selfridge, it’s a captivating tale with amazing performances by Jeremy Piven as Mr. Selfridge himself along with an equally talented supporting cast.
The series not only highlights the business genius of its protagonist but also shows how his visionary ideas transformed people’s shopping experience. What sets this period drama apart from others is that it seamlessly blends history with fashion, glamour and all things luxurious. The show offers viewers not only riveting drama but also a glimpse into the fashion and societal norms of that era.
“The Last Kingdom” (2015-present) Streaming on Netflix
“The Last Kingdom” is a thrilling historical drama that takes place during the Viking invasions of England in the ninth century. The show follows Uhtred, an Anglo-Saxon nobleman who was raised by Vikings after his family was killed in battle.
As he navigates his loyalty to both sides, Uhtred becomes embroiled in political intrigue and battles for power. The acting is superb, with Alexander Dreymon giving a standout performance as Uhtred. The production design and costumes are top-notch, transporting viewers to an authentic depiction of medieval England.
What sets “The Last Kingdom” apart from other period dramas is its gritty realism and unflinching portrayal of violence. Battles are brutal and bloody. Whether you are a history buff or simply love a good drama filled with action and intrigue, “The Last Kingdom” is definitely worth streaming on Netflix. I can garauntee you of that.
“The Pillars of the Earth” (2010) Streaming on Starz
“The Pillars of the Earth” (2010) is a streaming gem that should not be missed. Ken Follett’s novel inspires this drama set in 12th-century England, showcasing the construction of a great cathedral.
Director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan succeeds in bringing Follett’s intricate plot to life through breathtaking cinematography that captures both the beauty and brutality of medieval life. The show boasts a stellar cast featuring Eddie Redmayne as Jack Jackson and Donald Sutherland as Bartholomew. If you are looking for something remarkable to watch over the weekend, then “The Pillars of the Earth” won’t disappoint.
“Northanger Abbey” (2007) Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
“Northanger Abbey” is a charming adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel that takes viewers into the world of Catherine Morland, a young woman with an active imagination and insatiable appetite for Gothic romance novels.
The film portrays Catherine Morland’s romantic visions and the realities of 18th-century high society in Bath and Northanger Abbey. The charming and endearing heroine falls for the witty Henry Tilney and is invited to his family’s estate, Northanger Abbey.
As their friendship develops into something stronger, Catherine finds herself caught up in dangerous misunderstandings that threaten to ruin everything. “Northanger Abbey” is a must-watch for any fan of Austen’s work or period dramas.
Period dramas have always been a fascinating genre that captures the essence of different eras. They transport us back in time and help us experience the past as if we were there ourselves. The unique costumes, stunning locations, and intricate storylines are all intricately crafted to immerse us in a world that is like nothing else.
Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, it is easier than ever before to indulge ourselves in some of the best period dramas. Each show on this list brings something unique to the table – whether it is Downton Abbey’s lush depiction of Edwardian England or Outlander’s thrilling time-travel adventure.
But no matter which one you choose, you can be sure that you will be transported to a different world, infused with romance, intrigue and drama at every turn.