25 Period Dramas to Watch on Netflix – Mini-Series and TV Shows Edition (2015)

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period dramas front
Photo: Hallmark

UPDATE: New 2016 Netflix List Is Up! 35 Period Dramas to Watch on Netflix – Mini-Series and TV Shows Edition (2016)

In the past year, several fantastic period dramas disappeared from Netflix (they, unfortunately, lost the streaming rights). Daniel Deronda, Wives and Daughters, Bleak House, and The Way We Live Now are just a few of the sumptuous and vibrantly romantic period pieces taken off the U.S. Netflix. And while they lost several of BBC’s finest dramas, there are several other fantastic mini-series and TV Shows just waiting to be devoured.

25 Period Dramas to Watch on Netflix

(In No Particular Order)

#1: Reign (2013)

Photo: CW
Photo: CW

With Anne Shirley (Megan Follows) herself as the scheming Catherine de Medici, you can’t get more addictive then this underrated series. Sure the costumes aren’t authentic (a purposeful choice), but neither is the actual story based on Mary, Queen of Scots. Romance, intrigue, and Catherine’s conniving plots keep me hooked for sure. This is rated TV 14 and includes some racy scenes. Nothing too graphic.

RELATED | Review of Reign

#2: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012)

Photo: Acorn
Photo: Acorn

What’s not to love about this Australian 1920s murder mystery? With a fantastic leading lady in Miss Fisher, a great leading man in Detective Inspector Robinson, witty dialogue to make you laugh, and out of the world costume design, you will be nothing but entertained from start to finish of each episode. One of my personal favorites. Very infrequently, Miss Fisher does have some adult content thrown in. There’s also a lot of strong sensuality.

RELATED | Review of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

#3: Grand Hotel (2011)

Photo: Sky
Photo: Sky

If you love Downton Abbey and don’t mind subtitles, then Grand Hotel is a must see TV Series set in Spain. The star-crossed love story between Alicia and Julio is exquisite. The best part is that all three seasons are now available on Netflix. You don’t even have to wait for an ending. There are a few scenes of sexuality sprinkled throughout the show, but they are extremely infrequent.

RELATED | Review of Grand Hotel

#4: Velvet (2013)

Photo: Antena
Photo: Antena

Another Spanish import, Velvet is a classic class divide love story set in the 1950s and 60s that will make you swoon. The production values are also fantastic.

#5: Call the Midwife (2012)

Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC

Not many TV shows follow mostly female characters and deals with female problems. The show is about a group of midwives and nuns working to help the people of Poplar and maybe even themselves in the process. The stories can be heartbreaking, uplifting, and sometimes even a little romantic. The standout in this is, of course, the hilarious Miranda Hart.

# 6: North & South (2004)

North and South Mini-Series Starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby Ashe
Photo: BBC

If you haven’t seen North & South yet, it should be at the top of your list! The Mini-Series follows Margaret Hale as she moves from the comforts of the South of England to an industrial town in the North. There she meets Mr. Thornton and becomes prejudiced against him in a very Elizabeth Bennet kind of way. North & South is like Dickens meets Austen, with a nice side of Richard Armitage to make this a mini-series worth revisiting time and time again.

#7: When Calls the Heart (2014) 

Photo: Hallmark
Photo: Hallmark

This wholesome period drama may get a bit cheesy at times, but I love the clean romance and heartwarming stories the show shares with the audience. Yes, sometimes the dialogue is a bit stilted (especially in season 1), and sometimes it can get a little soapy (see season 2), however, the show is totally worth it for Jack. I adore him as the leading man and I think you will too.

RELATED | Review of When Calls the Heart

#8: The Paradise (2012)

Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC

Another favorite of mine, The Paradise tells the story of shop girl Denise as she falls for the shop’s owner, Mr. Moray. Aside from the romance, the strength of this series goes back to the characterization. Every person will feel layered and real by the end of the show. Few writers have this depth to their skill.

RELATED | Review of The Paradise

#9: Death Comes to Pemberley (2014)

Photo: PBS
Photo: PBS

What happens after Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are married with children? This mini-series (based on a book) aims to discover just that. An enjoyable few hours of your time.

RELATED | Review of Death Comes to Pemberley

#10: The Forsyte Saga (2002)

Photo: ITV
Photo: ITV

Family secrets, love, and interweaving plots follow the Forsyte family in this well-developed period mini-series. Look out for a young Ioan Gruffudd and Damien Lewis. EDIT: This was recently taken off Netflix.

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Autumn Topping

CO-FOUNDER & EDITOR

"Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worthwhile," L.M. Montgomery. In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and also graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely blog and works at The New York Public Library as a YA Librarian.

  • Kell Smurthwaite

    Black Sails – you missed that out!

    • I just picked 25 titles from Netflix in the U.S. Black Sails isn’t available.

  • osveni

    Just to warn you, Island At War does not have an ending. The writer died and it was cancelled. It was very frustrating. You can catch a glimpse of Sam Heughan from Outlander too. My favorite is Phillip Glenister, though.

    • Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know that it didn’t have an ending. I hate that. Is there any sort of closure at all?

      • Katie Coons Burdett

        Not really. It is dissapointing. There is also nudity. Not for kids

      • osveni

        No closure. It was such a shame. I got really invested in some of the plot lines.

        • I definitely feel hesitant about watching this one now.

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  • Murdoch Mysteries is one of my faves! I have wacthed North and South a ridiculous number of times! So Good!

    • I was just watching it again the other day. North and South never gets old.

  • Jayanne

    Two mini series that can be streamed on pbs.org right now that are amazing are “Poldark” and “The crimson field”. These mini series are excellent!

    • Poldark is awesome! I completely agree. I haven’t checked out The Crimson Field yet though. But it’s on my list!

      • Lauren Gardner

        I’d love to watch Poldark but only the latest 3 episode are on there. Or am I mistaken? Am I missing it somewhere?

  • emylime

    what is the top picture from?

  • Dori Cart

    Crimson Field is great, as is Larkrise to Candleford.

    • I would love it if both were on Netflix. I haven’t seen Crimson Field yet, but Lark Rise is a definite favorite of mine.

  • Justine

    World without End was also an amazing mini series. It focused during the time period of the 100 years war.

    • When I was narrowing it down to 25, I decided not to include this one, but thanks for bringing it up. Personally, I couldn’t get into it, but a lot may like it.

  • Jennifer Englin

    Surprised Peaky Blinders didn’t make the cut. While it may be a more rough and tumble than some of the titles that made the list it would seem to meet the criteria and from what I have feasted on so far, it’s delicious.

    Also, for those who love their western setting, Hell on Wheels gives you a very “Sam Elliot” spirit in a leading man, strong female characters, along with grit and intrigue.

    • I have to admit that our site tends to prefer the less graphic period dramas, so while I included a few with adult content and gave a warning, I hoped they weren’t extremely graphic. Looking at the advisory of Peaky Blinders and seeing the excessive gore warning, I finally decided against it. The same for “Hell on Wheels,” but I admit to seeing neither if anyone wants to throw their two cents in.

      • Jennifer Englin

        Oh no I can totally understand that. I suppose I looked at it for the content in the context of the show and in that found that for ME personally it “fit.” Though I could totally understand why if others prefered to avoid that sort of content all together why the site or viewers would avoid the programs mentioned.

  • Sleepninja

    Which show is the main article picture from? 🙂

  • TheAtomicMom

    Bomb Girls was horrible. Badly acted, I just could not get past the first episode even.

    • Yeah, not every one of these will be for everyone. I still want to give it a chance eventually, though it’s not on the top of my list.

  • AW

    I watched Jewel in the Crown recently and hate to describe it so harshly but it was awful. The rape is only the tip of the iceberg and not even the most offensive part. There’s also torture with male nudity tossed into the mix and other very sexual scenarios. Not only that, there’s almost zero happiness involved in anyone’s life and it doesn’t really end that nicely. Just a heads up!

    • Thanks for letting me know. It’s hard to tell when you haven’t seen it. All I knew is that it won a ton of awards. Doesn’t sound like something I want to watch personally.

  • Sharon

    LOVE LOVE LOVE North & South!

    • Me too! I can never get enough.

    • Lynn

      Totally agree! The chemistry between Margaret and Mr. Thornton is just amazing! And the ending…….there are just no words to describe how wonderful it is.

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE VELVET! My Favorite show!

    • I’ve only watched a few episodes so far but I love it too!

    • Chris

      Absolutely agree Velvet is the best from the cast to the music and all!

  • Suzan Bartels

    Where’s Larkrise to Candleford? Definitely one of my favorites

    • No Lark Rise on Netflix. I wish! It’s one of my favorites too.

  • Cecy

    Out of all on the list, Dancing on the Edge was really one of my favorites, mystery, murder, and intrigue. I also enjoyed The Hour which was not included in this list but is worth the watch.Thanks for all of the recommendations.

    • I finally checked out Dancing on the Edge. It was really really good. And The Hour is amazing, just not on Netflix.

  • Marti

    thanks for the recommendations! I am now a Heartie! When Calls the Heart is sooooo good! Even my oldest loves it.

  • ana cara-linda

    I love North & South; Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (saw all 3 seasons), Father Brown (although not here) is often hilarious and still serious at same time. I’m starting to watch Velvet; saw till 2×6 of When calls the Heart (don’t know if they’re going on with the show).

    If you enjoy a good period drama (even if it is in a foreign language) I suggest Elisa di Rivombrosa and La Dama Velata (both Italian fiction)…they’re lovely and I enjoyed every bit of them. Try looking them up (streaming), they’re from RAI fiction. Also Violetta; Anna Karenina; La Bella e la Bestia (all in Italian). From what I read there’s going to be an Italian version of The Grand Hotel, if I’m not mistaken.

    • Jessica Munoz

      Call a Midwife….wonderfully beautiful series.

  • Misty

    As of today, Sept 1st, when I checked on Netflix, The Forsyte Saga isn’t available anymore.

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  • Nada M

    Whats the show with the man in the red coat and the women in the blush dress? Its the image all the way at the top. Thanks!

    • I believe you are talking about When Calls the Heart.

  • toni

    Great list but its missing “El Tiempo Entre Costuras” (“The Time Between Seams”)

  • rosie1843

    I gave up when you called The Bucaneers silly and fun. You’re entitled to your opinion, of course. However, I couldn’t finish this article after reading that comment.

  • cara

    I love that reign is #1 on this list! And, the paradise is another one of my favs 😉

  • My sister keeps telling me to watch Grand Hotel but I’m too scared because of how crazy addicted she became over it!! Lol. Perhaps sometime in the future. 😀

  • Aidan

    The beauty of Mad Men is that, yes, whilst the characters are often unlikeable and frequently do terrible things, they’re probably the most multi-faceted and complex characters in any TV series ever. At its core it’s about a group of people who sell an idea of ‘happiness’ that they’re all desperately trying to attain for themselves. It’s a slow-burning show, but it can afford to be as the the writing and character development is so sharply drawn, nuanced and compelling. By the end you really do feel like they’re real people; people you know better than most of your actual friends and even family (as you’re privy to some of their most private moments). Plus, the costume and set design is stellar.

    Should’ve been a lot higher on the list, in my opinion.

  • Tiffany

    If you don’t mind reading subtitles I recommend The Grant Hotel & Seyit and Sura. But be prepared to become obsessed haha.

  • mizj

    if only all this were available on Australian Netflix. I think we have less than half 🙁

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