Autumn Topping | Nov 8, 2017 | 2
50 of the Most Unabashedly Romantic TV Shows
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to put the spotlight on 50 of the most romantic TV Shows from around the world. Now this, by all means, is not an all comprehensive list! But rather 50 examples of some of the best as well as some of the most unabashedly romantic out there.
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But what do I mean by unabashed? Unabashed literally means unashamed, unapologetic, and boldly sure of itself. In other words, these are the shows that embrace romance (typically of the old-fashioned kind – because they’re honestly just more romantic!) in all its wonderful glory. These shows don’t tip-toe around the love stories but rather grab ahold of what makes all of us romantics in the world love the genre.
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Personally, I find these shows refreshing in today’s cynical world that believes romance is more about swiping left than on an emotional connection. I don’t know about anyone else, but I prefer the epic, sweeping love stories over crude, pornographic romances any day. I’m more of a Jane Austen girl than 50 Shades of Grey after all. And these examples reflect that. (However, there are no miniseries on the list – we’ll save that for another day!)
From period dramas, paranormal romance, fantasy, international romance, to romantic comedies, and more, there’s something in here for everyone!
And to make it easier for all of you looking for your next binge-watch (or slow burn if that’s more your style), I also include where you can watch these fantastic TV Shows (when available)! Who knows, you may find yourself with something new to fall in love with.
A Few Tips
TIP 1: Click on each title to read a summary of the show.
TIP 2: Most Korean Dramas have only one season and therefore almost always have a definitive ending! So don’t worry if there are only a small number of episodes. Watch K-Dramas (and even many of the other Asian dramas) like you would read a good book. There is typically a beginning, middle, and end.
TIP 3: If you haven’t heard of some of these streaming services, most of them have free trials – which would be the perfect time to watch at least one of the shows.
Streaming Services included in List: Acorn TV (British and Australian TV), Amazon Prime, Dramafever (International – mostly K-Dramas), Fullscreen Streaming, Hulu, Netflix, PBS Passport, Viki (International shows – mostly Asian).
50 Unabashedly Romantic TV Shows
(In Alphabetical Order)
#1 Autumn’s Concerto (2009-2010)
Why You Should Watch: This heartfelt romance from Taiwan will pull on your heartstrings and make you root for this couple despite all of the obstacles in their path. Make sure to have tissues on hand when watching!
Content Note: A mild TV-14
Where to Watch: Dramafever, Netflix, Viki, Buy on DVD (though very expensive)
#2 Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990)
Why You Should Watch: A ’80s classic TV Show that explores the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale in a refreshing and enjoyable way. If you love Beauty and the Beast stories or urban fantasy, then this one is a must-see!
Content Note: TV-PG
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, Buy on DVD (inexpensive)
#3 Blood Ties (2007)
Why You Should Watch: This urban fantasy/paranormal romance series about a royal, immortal vampire is an example of how to do a love triangle right. Beyond that, the chemistry between the two leads is fantastic! If you like the wit of Veronica Mars as well as paranormal romance, then definitely check out Blood Ties – a lesser known Canadian series.
Content Note: TV-14 for supernatural violence and sensuality
Where to Watch: Buy on DVD (inexpensive)
#4 Boys Over Flowers (2009)
Why You Should Watch: If you’re new to the world of Korean Dramas (or need somewhere to start), Boys Over Flowers is the perfect show to watch. (Basically, if you love the old-fashioned romance style of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, romanticism, romantic comedies, and/or fairytales, then trust me, you should be watching K-Dramas.)
The addicting romance is part romantic comedy, part drama, part fairy tale, and isn’t afraid to deal with complex issues. Somehow you’ll find yourself rooting for Jan-di and Goo Joon-pyo to be together despite their rocky start and his “evil” mother. If you love old-fashioned romance, bad boy transformations, Cinderella-like stories, and just being entertained in general, then check out Boys Over Flowers.
Content Note: TV-14 for bullying situations and some adult themes. The romance is old-fashioned and most of the series feels PG.
Where to Watch: Dramafever, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime (can be streamed as a Dramafever Instant Add-On), Viki, Buy on DVD (average prices).
#5 Chuck (2007-2012)
Why You Should Watch: There is something joyful about watching Chuck (played by the always likable Zachary Levi) and his endearing optimism. As he’s thrown into the world of spies and intrigue, he falls in love with the agent hired to protect him. A spy romantic comedy that will capture your heart from beginning to end!
Content Note: TV-14 for mild violence, mild profanity, and sexual references
Where to Watch: Fullscreen Streaming, Amazon Prime (can stream as a Fullscreen add-on), buy on DVD (average pricing).
#6 Coffee Prince (2007)
Why You Should Watch: This romantic Korean Drama/romantic comedy remains one of Korea’s most popular shows to date. The unusual romance about a girl who pretends to be a boy (and then falls in love with a boy who believes she’s a boy – man that’s a mouthful) will captivate you from the start. If you’re looking for a dreamy male lead, look no further than the charismatic and handsome Gong Yoo!
Content Note: Mostly feels TV-PG
Where to Watch: Hulu, Dramafever, Viki, Amazon Prime (available to stream as a Dramafever Instant Add-on), Buy on DVD (average price).
#7 Dark Angel (2000-2002)
Why You Should Watch: If you love stories about underdogs and sci-fi romance, then Dark Angel should be right up your alley. Plus, you get to see the amazing chemistry between a young Jessica Alba (arguably her best role) and Michael Weatherly (NCIS). What’s great about this show is that it was ahead of its time in relation to great female roles. The girl is the “superhero” while the guy is the computer whiz behind the scenes supporting her.
James Cameron was also the creator and even directs the epic finale (unfortunately, there is a cliffhanger due to the show’s unfortunate cancellation). If you love romances like Oliver and Felicity (you know, when it was still good) from Arrow then you should enjoy Dark Angel. It’s an example of how romance doesn’t need to be angsty with unnecessary drama (like constant breaks ups and keeping secrets; IE: Oliver and Felicity now) to create obstacles. Rather, good old-fashioned outside conflict and complex emotions work to keep these two apart. And that’s refreshing to watch.
Content Note: TV-14
Where to Watch: Netflix DVD, Buy on DVD (inexpensive)
#8 Descendants of the Sun (2016)
Why You Should Watch: One of the most popular Korean romances, Descendants of the Sun captures old-fashioned romance in all its wonderful glory. And what’s nice about that, is that it’s about characters in their thirties. How often do you see a non-explicit romance about adults where the lead female has never really dated before? Descendants of the Sun embraces romance unabashedly and includes swoon-worthy scenes from start to finish. And there are not just one or two romances to enjoy, but three! By the end (or was it the beginning?), Shi-jin will leave you wishing you could meet a guy just like him!
Content Note: TV-14 for medical situations, violence, and intense sequences. However, mostly feels PG.
Where to Watch: Dramafever, Hulu, Viki, Buy on DVD (expensive)
#9 Doctor Who (2005-)
Why You Should Watch: This British fantasy/sci-fi/time travel series grabbed my heart and never let go. I especially fell in love with the slow-build romance between the Doctor and Rose (a female character most of us girls can relate to). And while their romance will break your heart, it will also have you believing in love as well as in the idea that every person can make a difference. Basically, if you’re looking for an escape from all your troubles, Doctor Who may be just the prescription you need. Trust me, you’ll love David Tennant as the 10th Doctor (I also have a special love for Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor). Hating him is like hating puppies!
And while it’s the first four seasons of “new” Doctor Who that I love and personally recommend, the later seasons are still worth watching. Just expect an almost entirely different show under a new showrunner. That’s one thing about Doctor Who. It’s always regenerating to keep itself fresh. You’ll have to decide for yourself which era of the show you like best! But as far as old-fashioned romance goes, seasons 1-4 is where it’s at!
Content Note: Mostly TV-PG
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, Netflix DVD, Buy on DVD (fairly inexpensive to average pricing)
#10 Downton Abbey (2010-2015)
Why You Should Watch: If you’re still one of the few to have not seen this cultural phenomenon, you’re lucky because you can now stream all six seasons without having to wait a year between seasons! With the feel of a classic novel, this original period drama has layered characters and believable romances to fall in love with. Not to mention the fabulous performances from the entire cast! Downton Abbey is not a show to be missed!
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Content Note: TV-PG. A few episodes deal with more adult themes.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, PBS Passport, Netflix DVD, Buy on DVD (average prices)
#11 Dracula (2013-2014)
Why You Should Watch: This steampunk adaptation of Dracula starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers fell under the radar but is actually quite good. If you love gothic romance, Byronic Heroes, and steampunk, make sure to check out this entertaining series.
Content Note: TV-14
Where to Watch: Buy on DVD (Very Cheap)
#12 General & I (2017)
Why You Should Watch: The trailer may be convincing enough on its own! (That’s what convinced me to watch.) While I have only just started this Chinese series, I already love the beautiful costumes, production design, and the sweeping star-crossed romance. Hopefully, the series keeps up the epic feel of the series! Basically, if you love star-crossed romance, intelligent female leads, and historical shows, then make sure to check out General and I!
Content Note: So far, seems TV-14 for battle scenes.
Where to Watch: Dramafever
#13 Gilmore Girls (2000-2007; 2016)
Why You Should Watch: Because Gilmore Girls is awesome with fantastic female characters, believable family drama, an unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter, small town charm, and, of course, romance! Influenced by the fast-talking narrative style of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Gilmore Girls has just the right amount of charm for those of us who appreciate clever dialogue, wit, and old-fashioned romance.
Content Note: TV-PG (a few TV-14 episodes sneak in)
Where to Watch: Netflix, Buy Digitally on Amazon Video, Buy on DVD (average prices)
#14 Goblin: The Lonely and Great God (2016-2017)
Why You Should Watch: If you like shows like Being Human, Doctor Who, good fantasy, or any stories influenced by fairy tales and folklore, then Goblin is a show you can’t miss! I can’t say enough wonderful things about this fantastically written and acted series. And while it’s the bromance between an immortal goblin and an eccentric grim reaper that steals the show, the romances in this series are epic in scope and embraced unabashedly. With twists and turns at every corner, prepare to be hooked from start to finish. This series is also great for newbies in the Korean Drama world.
Content Note: TV-14 for fantasy violence. Mostly feels PG.
Where to Watch: Dramafever, Viki (may have restricted access)
#15 Grand Hotel (2011-2013)
Why You Should Watch: An addicting period drama from Spain, Grand Hotel may be one of the best period dramas to ever air on TV. You will not be able to stop watching! The romance and the chemistry between the leads are simply off the charts. Sometimes it’s nice to watch a series that isn’t afraid to be what it is: a romance. Of course, with murder, deception, secrets, and more, on the side!
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Content Note: There are a few scenes of sexuality sprinkled throughout the show, but they are infrequent and not explicit. It is rated TV-PG with a couple episodes TV-14.
Where to Watch: Hulu (only the first nine episodes), buy on DVD (no English subtitles; very expensive). The series has been on Netflix in the past, so watch closely to see if it returns! There are, of course, other avenues to watch online. But I prefer legitimate streaming.
#16 Greatest Love (2011)
Why You Should Watch: If you’re looking for a hilarious romantic comedy series to watch, then Greatest Love should be at the top of your list. This K-Drama takes a fun look at celebrity culture behind the scenes. If you enjoy romantic comedies based on situational humor (like Sandra Bullock films), then you should enjoy this laugh out loud romance about an A-list movie-star with an attitude problem and a fallen pop star with the heart of gold who fall in love.
Content Note: Feels mostly TV-PG
Where to Watch: Dramafever, Viki, Buy on DVD (average prices; fairly inexpensive for a K-Drama)
#17 Hart of Dixie (2011-2015)
Why You Should Watch: If you enjoy stories about small towns, then you should enjoy this light-hearted romantic comedy series. If only I could live in a town where most people’s biggest problems are who they should date!
Content Note: TV-PG (a few episodes might be TV-14)
Where to Watch: Netflix, Buy digitally on Amazon Video, Buy on DVD (average prices)
#18 The Hour (2011-2012)
Why You Should Watch: Often compared to Mad Men, I argue this British series is much better! One aspect of this wonderfully written show (Abi Morgan won an Emmy for the writing in this series) that makes it stand out is the slow build romance between best friends, Freddie and Bel. In all, you don’t want to miss this amazing series with award-worthy performances and the emotionally deep romance that pulls the story together.
Content Note: TV-14 for some sexual situations and adult themes, brief strong language, and a few scenes of violence.
Where to Watch: Buy Digitally or on DVD (Amazon; average prices)
#19 I’m Sorry, I Love You (2004)
Why You Should Watch: If you enjoy a good tragedy, this Korean Drama (which was a Korean phenomenon) is one of the best! So Ji-sub’s performance will draw you into this heartbreaking story that is so compelling (and incredibly romantic) you won’t be able to stop watching!
Content Note: TV-14 for adult themes; nothing explicit in this series
Where to Watch: Dramafever
#20 It’s Okay, That’s Love (2014)
Why You Should Watch: A great drama for anyone interested in psychology or who love films like A Beautiful Mind. When two broken people (one with OCD and a mysterious illness and the other with a panic anxiety disorder) find each other, they have to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles (mental illness) to be together. I can’t say enough about how much I love this romantic series which is at times much lighter than you might expect.
Content Note: TV-14 for adult themes, discussions, and situations; also includes some sensuality.
Where to Watch: Dramafever, Viki
#21 Jane the Virgin (2014-)
Why You Should Watch: Part romantic comedy, part telenovela, this award-winning series is addicting and wonderful for those of us (like Jane) who love old-fashioned romance and believe in happy endings. Though don’t be surprised when the show becomes tragic – it is part telenovela after all.
Content Note: Ranges between TV-PG and TV-14 depending on the episode.
Where to Watch: Netflix, Buy Digitally or on DVD (Amazon Video); new episodes can be watched live or streamed on cwtv.
#22 La Femme Nikita (1997-2001)
Why You Should Watch: This Canadian series about a young woman forced to be a spy/operative is at its best when it’s all about the slow build romance between Michael and Nikita. While he seems cold at first, as the romance builds you won’t be able to stop watching their compelling love story. If you enjoy TV romances where the main couple has an intense chemistry and a deep emotional connection, then make sure to watch La Femme Nikita.
Content Note: TV-14 for violence and sexual situations
Where to Watch: Netflix DVD, Buy Digitally (Amazon Video) or on DVD (average prices)
#23 The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016-2017)
Why You Should Watch: A modern-day romance about a mermaid and a human told in two different time periods? Just, yes! This is one of my favorite shows of the past couple years. The epic star-crossed romance across time is perfect for anyone who enjoys fairy tales, folklore, period dramas, and paranormal romance. The show can be both funny and dramatic in the best ways possible!
Content Note: Mostly TV-PG; A couple episodes are closer to TV-14 for adult themes and violence. Overall, Legend of the Blue Sea is an old-fashioned romance with nothing explicit.
Where to Watch: Viki
#24 Legend of the Seeker (2008-2010)
Why You Should Watch: If you enjoy fantasy, this romantic series should be a good fit! What makes Legend of the Seeker so compelling is the forbidden romance between Richard and Kahlan. Can they find a way to be together despite her dark powers and his hero destiny? The chemistry between the two leads is fantastic and the show is a whole lot of fun to watch.
Content Note: TV-14 (mostly for fantasy violence and some sensuality)
Where to Watch: Hulu, Netflix DVD, Buy Digitally (Amazon Video) or on DVD (average prices)
#25 Lost (2004-2010)
Why You Should Watch: Besides being a fantasy/sci-fi mystery series that will have you hooked from the start, what really makes the show work are the characters and the relationships – many of which are unabashedly romantic. If you haven’t watched Lost yet, it’s never too late to check out this popular series!
Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality and implied sexuality, frightening scenes, some violence, and occasional profanity.
Where to Watch: Netflix, Buy Digitally or on DVD (Amazon)