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

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)

period dramas to watch on netflix
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 deal 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.

 

Turn to page two for more period drama options on Netflix!

 

By on August 5th, 2015

About Autumn Topping

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 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 as a YA Librarian.

More posts by this author.

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

  1. 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.

    Reply
  2. 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!

    Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
  4. 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!

    Reply
  5. 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.

    Reply
  6. 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.

    Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply
  8. 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. 😀

    Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
  10. Your description of “THE BUCANEERS” is a little off-putting. “A little bit soapy”? “Silly and fun to devour”? That’s your opinion? Huh.

    Reply
    • Perhaps over dramatic and sometimes cheesy dialogue would suit better? We both love Edith Wharton but the adaptation did have a problematic script and directing which made it feel over dramatic at points. But we both enjoyed it overall. Perhaps you thought it was brilliant! We all interpret things differently. 🙂 But hey, on our site, silly and fun to devour is a compliment! We actually enjoy many “soaps” on this site. Sorry you found her comment (which had no ill-intent behind it) off-putting! And yes, that’s her opinion. But we always welcome friendly discussion!

      Reply
  11. When Calls the Heart is my favorite, just started North and South. Poldark is AMAZING, wish they’d put it on Netflix. Googled more does like Poldark and your blog came up. Thanks for recommendations I made a list.

    Reply

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