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55 Sensational Period Dramas to Watch on Netflix (2021)

These are currently the best period drama series to watch on Netflix!


PERIOD DRAMAS ON NETFLIX: MINISERIES AND TV SHOWS (2021)

I last updated what period dramas to watch on Netflix in 2020. So, I thought now was the perfect moment to update this hopefully helpful list.

Over the past few years, the list of Netflix period dramas to watch has changed dramatically. At the same time, the selections have become more diverse, and the choices have increased. Not to mention, Netflix includes more original content from excellent period dramas all over the world.

period dramas on netflix 2021 featured image; collage of period dramas with The Queen's Gambit in the center.
Period Dramas on Netflix. Photos: Bridgerton, The English Game, The Queen’s Gambit, Anne with an E, Rookie Historian – Credit: Netflix

And while several British productions have moved on to Amazon Prime Video and BritBox, Netflix still has some British period shows on Netflix, including beloved favorites like Call the Midwife.

For period drama aficionados who love a good historical (or historical fantasy) binge, this list is for you! As before, this list focuses on Miniseries and TV shows only. For a list of period films, head on over to our companion article: 50 Entertaining Period Pieces On Netflix To Watch – Movie Edition (2021).

So, without further ado, here are 55 sensational period shows on Netflix to watch.

(We aim to share period series on Netflix with less explicit content minus a few exceptions for artistic merit or genre interest. If a program is Rated TV-MA, we will let you know.)

Note: This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated for 2021. These titles are available to watch on Netflix in the US as of May 2021. Availability is subject to change.


55 Best Period Dramas on Netflix – Miniseries and TV Shows

(In Alphabetical Order)


#1: Alias Grace (2017)

Alias Grace - period dramas on netflix
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: In 19th-century Canada, a psychiatrist weighs whether a murderess should be pardoned due to insanity. Based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning novel.

Why You Should Check This Out: Road to Avonlea’s Sarah Polley adapted Margaret Atwood’s novel. Avonlea fans will also love seeing Mag Ruffman (Olivia) as a recurring character. 

On a different note, Sarah Polley is a fantastic writer, and this series is no exception. I also loved seeing Zachary Levi in a period drama. Just don’t go into this one for romance.

Content: TV-MA but never feels vulgar or overly explicit. Furthermore, the director handles the assault and attempted abuse scenes tastefully. It’s more of a closed-door scenario. There’s one graphic love scene near the end of the show, and violence sprinkled throughout the series.

#2: Always a Witch (2019)

Always a Witch
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: A young 17th-century witch time travels to the future to save the man she loves, but first must adjust to present-day Cartagena and defeat a dark rival.

Why You Should Check This Out: Who doesn’t love time-traveling stories about witches? The Colombian series takes place in both the present-day and the 17th-century. 

Content: TV-14.

#3: Anne with an E (2017)

anne with an e; period dramas on Netflix
Photo: CBC/Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: A plucky orphan whose passions run deep finds an unlikely home with a spinster and her soft-spoken bachelor brother. Based on “Anne of Green Gables.”

Why You Should Check This Out: Okay, so this particular period drama on Netflix doesn’t ‘much’ resemble the beloved books. Still, the characters are well-drawn out, and the production quality is excellent. 

While some may have a hard time with plot points that deviate drastically from the novels, you can still enjoy this period drama as a separate entity.

On another Avonlea tidbit, R.H. Thompson (Jasper Dale) plays Matthew Cuthbert to perfection.

There are sweet romances, outstanding characterization, and brilliant performances in this adaptation.

Content: TV-PG

#4 Blood & Treasures (2016)

Blood & Treasures

Netflix Synopsis: Condemned by a centuries-old vow to protect her kingdom’s treasures, an embittered spirit returns to seek justice against the man who wronged her.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you enjoy historical fantasy, international dramas, paranormal romance, and movies like The Mummy, you might enjoy this high-budget Thai series! The series takes place in both the present and the past.  

Content: TV-14

#5: The Bonfire of Destiny (2019)

The Bonfire of Destiny image
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: After a devastating fire in 1897 Paris, three women find their lives upended by betrayals, deceptions, and romantic turmoil. Inspired by real events. 

Why You Should Check This Out: If you are fascinated (like me) by Netflix historical dramas set around famous historical events, you should like the French series, The Bonfire of Destiny. The tragedy is the 1897 Bazar de la Charité, where numerous lives were lost.

Content: TV-MA for nudity, language, and smoking. This series is moderately explicit.

#6 Bridgerton (2020)

Netflix Synopsis: The eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family look for love and happiness in London high society. Inspired by Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you’re looking for a super binge-worthy series full of romance, brooding Byronic Heroes, and entertaining plot twists, this is the show for you. For more about the series, check out our review: 

Review: ‘Bridgerton’ Is A Period Piece That Paves The Way For Future Romance Adaptations

Content: Bridgerton is rated TV-MA for sexuality, brief strong language, and nudity. While the explicit content is not continuous throughout, it is semi-frequent. Episode six is the most graphic.

#7: Cable Girls (2017)

Cable Girls
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: In 1920s Madrid, four women at the National Telephone Company ring in revolution as they manage romance, friendship and the modern workplace.

Why You Should Check This Out: Spanish cinema puts out some fantastic period dramas. Don’t just take my word for it, though, and read our full review on why Cable Girls is one romantic period drama that’s definitely worth your time.

Content: This series ranges between TV-14 and TV-MA for sexuality and nudity – the scenes are typically brief.

#8: Call the Midwife (2012)

Jessica Raine in Call the Midwife; period dramas on Netflix
Photo: BBC

Netflix Synopsis: This period drama set in impoverished East London in the 1950s follows a newly qualified midwife and her colleagues at a nursing convent.

Why You Should Check This Out: Not many TV shows follow primarily 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. There aren’t enough words of love I can give this one! One of the most heartwarming and heartbreaking period dramas available.

Content: Call the Midwife is rated TV-14 mostly for realistic childbirth scenes.

#9: CATHEDRAL OF THE SEA (2017)

Cathedral of the Sea

Netflix Synopsis: In 14th-century Barcelona, a serf’s determined climb to wealth and freedom incurs the disdain of the noble class and the suspicion of the Inquisition.

Why You Should Check This Out: Besides the intriguing premise, fans of the Grand Hotel will appreciate one of the stars, Aitor Luna. He is the real-life older brother of Yon Gonzalez – star of Grand Hotel and Cable Girls. Aitor is just as talented onscreen!

Content: TV-MA for a moderate amount of nudity/sexuality. There is violence and frightening, intense scenes. 

Most of the explicit scenes are in episode four—however, some graphic content is in the series. There is a rape scene without nudity in episode seven.

#10: Charité/Charité at War (2017)

Charité poster; period dramas on netflix

Netflix Synopsis: At Berlin’s Charité hospital in 1888, Ida finds romance, a path to her dream job and an inside look into cures for tuberculosis and diphtheria.

Why You Should Check This Out: This one is for viewers who like romance and medical period dramas with a feminist Victorian twist. Plus, it’s a German TV Series, something I haven’t seen available often enough in the US! 

The second season you need to search for separately. It takes place in 1943 in the same hospital.

Content: TV-MA for nudity but is not vulgar. Nude deceased bodies may occasionally be present due to the premise of the series.

#11: THE CROWN (2016)

The Crown poster; best period dramas on Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: This drama follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.

Why You Should Check This Out: While the first episode is a little slow, the series picks up from there. The Crown has excellent production quality, gorgeous costumes, sufficient detail for historical accuracy (even when hugely embellishing the royals’ lives), and brilliant performances from all of the actors and actresses involved. 

Everyone is perfectly cast for these well-known historical and famous figures. 

Content: TV-MA. There is brief nudity, infrequent use of the F word sprinkled throughout the whole series, and one episode (season 2, episode 7) with a very explicit scene (if this bothers you, you can easily skip the sequence). Overall, the series feels TV-14 most of the time.

#12: Cursed (2020)

Cursed on Netflix promo image
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: Armed with mysterious powers and a legendary sword, young rebel Nimue joins forces with charming mercenary Arthur on a mission to save her people.

Why You Should Check This Out: This period fantasy is a flawed but fun watch – especially if you love Arthurian tales. If you like Byronic Heroes, you’ll also want to watch for the intriguing characterization of Merlin. 

While the series sometimes suffers from bad dialogue and a mediocre romance, the second half of the series improves, and it ends on a shocking cliffhanger. 

Content: TV-MA for violence, sensuality. Cursed struggles to figure out what it wants to be. 

On the one hand, it feels like a sweet teen romance; on the other, the battle scenes are excessively gory and don’t match the rest of the series. 

#13: DC’S Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

Ray Palmer in Legends of Tomorrow
Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer. Photo: CW

Netflix Synopsis: A mysterious “time master” from the future unites an unlikely group of superheroes and villains to save the world from a powerful evil.

Why You Should Check This Out: While a fantasy series, the characters often visit historical periods due to the time travel premise – albeit without much accuracy. If you enjoy shows like Doctor Who, Timeless, or quirky comedy shows, you’ll likely appreciate this enjoyable superhero series.

The first season drags a bit, but it improves over time as the series finds its voice. You also won’t want to miss Brandon Routh (Superman) as Ray Palmer. His character is lovable and sweet and will leave you with a smile on your face.

Content: TV-14.

#14: Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings (2019)

Dolly Parton's Heartstrings;

Netflix Synopsis: Eight stories celebrating family, faith, love and forgiveness come to life in this series inspired by Dolly Parton’s iconic country music catalog.

Why You Should Check This Out: A couple of the stories are period dramas! Overall, the series is heartwarming and lovely, and you shouldn’t miss it if you appreciate uplifting drama, good music, and Dolly Parton.

Content: TV-14.

#15 Dracula (2020)

Dracula 2020 image
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: The Count Dracula legend transforms with new tales that flesh out the vampire’s gory crimes – and bring his vulnerability into the light.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you enjoy Steven Moffat as a writer (Sherlock, Doctor Who), you might like his strange adaptation of Dracula. It was a little bit too odd for me, but it has excellent production quality with fantastic actors.

Content: TV-14 for violence and frightening situations.

#16 The English Game (2020)

The English Game; best period dramas on Netflix
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: Two 19th-century footballers on opposite sides of a class divide navigate professional and personal turmoil to change the game—and England—forever.

Why You Should Check This Out: Based on a true story, The English Game is a fabulous series from Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes. It has excellent characterization, fantastic writing, and lovely romances. It’s one of the best period dramas on this list and shouldn’t be missed.

Content: TV-14.

#17 The Frankenstein Chronicles (2015)

The Frankenstein Chronicles promo poster
Photo: ITV

Netflix Synopsis: A detective tracks what seems to be a killer with a taste for dismemberment in 1827 London, but the case leads in a far more terrifying direction.

Why You Should Check This Out: Sean Bean, for one, is always superb. Overall, if you enjoy historical mysteries or British crime shows, you should like this one.

Content: TV-MA for violence and nudity. While language and sexuality are mild, the violence can be gruesome, especially in season two.

#18 The Ghost Bride (2020)

The Ghost Bride
Li Lan (Huang Pei-jia) and Er Lang (Wu Kang-jen) in The Ghost Bride. Photo: Netflix.

Netflix Synopsis: In 1890s Malacca, Li Lan finds herself in the afterlife and becomes mired in a mystery linked to the sinister, deceased son of a wealthy family.

Why You Should Check This Out: This series is based on a bestselling novel and is a lot of fun. While the costumes aren’t period accurate, you’ll likely appreciate this newer show if you enjoy paranormal romance and historical fantasy. 

Content: TV-14.

#19: Halt and Catch Fire (2014)

Lee Pace in Halt and Catch Fire
Photo: AMC

Netflix Synopsis: Re-creating the dawn of the personal computer era, this digital drama tracks the fates of an industry visionary and his brilliant colleagues.

Why You Should Check This Out: Lee Pace stars in the underrated drama set in the 1980s, and he is always good in everything he stars in – whether movies or TV. 

Content: TV-14 for sexuality.

#20: High Seas (2019)

High Seas
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: Two sisters discover disturbing family secrets after a string of mysterious deaths occur on a luxury ship traveling from Spain to Brazil in the 1940s.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you’re a fan of historical mysteries with lots of romance, and you like shows like Grand Hotel, you will adore High Seas. It’s an addictive period romance series with great acting and has stories that will hook you from the first episode. 

Sadly, Netflix canceled the series after three seasons.

Content: TV-MA, but it should be TV-14. It’s mild. 

#21: HYMN OF DEATH (2018)

hymn of death promotional poster

Netflix Synopsis: During the Japanese colonial period, married playwright Kim U-jin falls in love with soprano Yun Sim-deok, one of Korea’s notable New Women.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you’re a fan of Korean dramas or tragic romance stories, this is the miniseries for you.

Content: TV-14

#22 The Irregulars (2021)

The Irregulars Netflix poster

Netflix Synopsis: A crew of misfits investigates a series of supernatural crimes in Victorian London for Dr. Watson and his shadowy associate, Sherlock Holmes.

Why You Should Check This Out: This series is perfect for fans of Victorian mysteries and everything Sherlock. It’s a new twist on the story. Unfortunately, Netflix already canceled the series.

Content: TV-14

#23 Land Girls (2009)

Land girls poster; period dramas on netflix

Netflix Synopsis: Follow the lives, loves, highs and lows of four members of the Women’s Land Army who are working at the Hoxley Estate during WWII.

Why You Should Check This Out: A period drama set in WWII, the series is about four women working the land during the war. There’s a lot of romance to go around to hold your interest. 

Content: TV-PG

#24: The Little Nyonya (2009)

The Little Nyonya

Netflix Synopsis: An orphaned Chinese woman in Singapore refuses to yield to her lowly station in life, setting her family on a tumultuous course for generations.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you enjoy Cinderella stories, you should give it a chance. It was hugely popular when it aired and included a swoony romance! The series takes place in both the present and the past.

Content: TV-14.

#25: Luna Nera (2020)

Luna Nera
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: In 17th-century Italy, a teenager learns about her destiny among a family of witches, just as her boyfriend’s father hunts her down for witchcraft.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you enjoy historical fantasies about witches and paranormal teen romances, it might be worth checking out.

Content: TV-MA for nudity.

#26: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)

Peggy Carter in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agent Carter in S.H.I.E.L.D. Flashback. Photo: ABC/Marvel

Netflix Synopsis: Agent Phil Coulson, seen in action in Marvel’s The Avengers, assembles a team of top S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to investigate bizarre threats. 

Why You Should Check This Out: Trust me when I say the series keeps improving over time. When Marvel released the showrunners from having to match up to the Marvel movies, the storytelling improves.

Now, while most of the series occurs in the present day, flashbacks show the early days of SHIELD with Agent Carter making an appearance. 

In the later seasons, there is also time travel. The final season has many stories in the past, and Enver Gjokaj from Agent Carter plays an important role.

Content: TV-14 (mild). 

#27: Medici (2016)

Medici; period dramas on Netflix
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: In 15th-century Renaissance Florence, the visionary Medici dynasty flexes its power in politics and the arts, risking its rivals’ lethal opposition.

Why You Should Check This Out: It has a fantastic cast: Richard Madden, Dustin Hoffman, Sean Bean, and Julian Sands, to name a few.

Content: TV-14/TV-MA. While it’s typically TV-14 elsewhere, there are extended explicit scenes on Netflix. 

#28: Merlin (2008)

Merlin promotional image; best period dramas on netflix
Photo: BBC

Netflix Synopsis: This family-oriented retelling of the King Arthur legend finds Merlin arriving in Camelot, where he hones his magic skills with the help of his uncle.

Why You Should Check This Out: Yes, sometimes Merlin can get COMPLETELY ridiculous, but that’s why we love it! Not unlike Smallville, Merlin follows a young Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, and Gwen before their destinies as we know them.

Worthy of note: possibly the hottest Lancelot of all-time guest stars every once in a while (okay, maybe Santiago Cabrera ties with Ioan Gruffudd), and Anthony Stewart, Head of Buffy fame, plays the sometimes villainous and hilarious Uther.

Content: TV-PG.

#29: Morocco: Love in Times of War (2017)

Morocco Love in Times of War
Atresmedia Television, Bambú Producciones, and Beta Film

Netflix Synopsis: A duchess leads a group of high-society Madrid women to Melilla during the Rif War to open a hospital and nurse the wounded amid rough conditions.

Why You Should Check This Out: This is another addicting Spanish period drama! 

Content: While rated TV-MA, it feels more TV-14. There is war violence, gore, some profanities, and one sensual scene between a couple.

#30: Mr. Sunshine (2018)

Mr. Sunshine
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: A young boy who ends up in the U.S. after the 1871 Shinmiyangyo incident returns to Korea at a historical turning point and falls for a noblewoman.

Why You Should Check This Out: Netflix is now distributing high-budget Korean Dramas. So, if you love historical Korean romances, this epic series from Goblin‘s creator is a must-see!

Content: TV-MA for scenes of violence. No gore and nothing too explicit.

#31: My Country: The New Age (2019)

My Country: The New Age poster

Netflix Synopsis: At the end of the Goryeo period, there were those who led the charge to proclaim a new age – and the ordinary individuals who risked everything.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you love historical K-Dramas, you’ll likely enjoy this uplifting drama series. It has romance and melodrama and is sure to keep you hooked!

Content: TV-14

#32: My Sassy Girl (2017)

My Sassy Girl poster

Netflix Synopsis: A refined young Joseon scholar’s life turns upside down after he rescues a drunk princess who later accuses him of taking something precious from her.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you’re in the mood for romance, this fun Korean series is worth watching!

Content: TV-14

#33: OUTLANDER (2014)

Outlander photo of Claire and Jamie
Photo: STARZ

Netflix Synopsis: The epic tale adapted From Diana Gabaldon’s popular series of fantasy-romance novels focuses on the drama of two time-crossed lovers.

Why You Should Check This Out: Watch if you’re a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling novels, watch for the epic love story and the excellent production. We warn, this series is very graphic, but it does have a powerful love story in it.

Content: TV-MA. Outlander is full of explicit content, which is at times gratuitous. 

#34: PENNY DREADFUL (2014)

Penny Dreadful publicity still
Photo: Showtime

Netflix Synopsis: The classic tales of Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and more are woven together in this horror series set on the dark streets of Victorian London. 

Why You Should Check This Out: The writing in this series is poetic and haunting. You should watch this if you don’t mind graphic content (including gore), and you also love gothic love stories, classic monsters from literature, and Byronic Heroes.

Content: TV-MA for violence/gore, profanity, sex, and nudity. This one deserves its rating.

#35: The Princess Weiyoung (2016)

the princess weiyoung poster

Netflix Synopsis: A princess descended from a ruined noble family disguises herself as the woman who saved her life and embarks on a mission to avenge her loved ones.

Why You Should Check This Out: This Chinese period drama series was one of the top Chinese series in 2016! Watch for romance, gorgeous costumes, and an entertaining plot.

Content: TV-14.

#36: The Queen and the Conqueror (2020)

The Queen and the Conqueror

Netflix Synopsis: Years after Spanish conquistador Pedro de Heredia betrayed her people and broke her heart, indigenous woman Catalina reenters his life to get revenge.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you love telenovelas, you might like this Colombian series set in the 16th century. It’s not historically accurate, but it’s not meant to be.

Content: TV-14.

#37: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (2020)

the queen's gambit netflix poster

Netflix Synopsis: In a 1950s orphanage, a young girl reveals an astonishing talent for chess and begins an unlikely journey to stardom while grappling with addiction. 

Why You Should Check This Out: This pop culture phenomenon is brilliantly produced, written, and acted. Part Jane Eyre, part A Star is Born, this period drama series is must-see television with a brilliant performance from Anya Taylor-Joy and some fabulous historical costumes.

Content: TV-MA for language.

#38: Rebellion (2016)

Rebellion poster

Netflix Synopsis: Dublin’s violent Easter Rising of 1916 ignites a long and bloody conflict between British military forces and Irish revolutionary fighters.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you’re interested in learning more about Irish history, you should check out this Irish drama series. It has a great cast and good production values.

Content: TV-MA (mild overall but still has full nudity, violence, and language).

#39: Reign (2013)

Mary and Francis in Reign; best period dramas on Netflix
Photo: CW

Netflix Synopsis: This vivid historical drama series tells of the rise to power of Mary, Queen of Scots, amid a court full of sexual and political intrigue.

Why You Should Check This Out: With Anne Shirley (Megan Follows) herself as the scheming Catherine de Medici, you can’t get more addictive than 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. Just don’t watch for historical accuracy, as the series is more historical fantasy.

Content: This is rated TV-14 and includes some racy scenes. Nothing too graphic.

#40: Resurrection: Ertugrul (2014)

Resurrection: Ertugrul

Netflix Synopsis: When a good deed unwittingly endangers his clan, a 13th-century Turkish warrior agrees to fight a sultan’s enemies in exchange for new tribal land.

Why You Should Check This Out: This is a top-rated Turkish series. While it has some similarities to Game of Thrones (with less explicit content), it has a more spiritual tone.

Content: TV-14.

#41: The Rise of Phoenixes (2018)

The Rise of Phoenixes; best period dramas on Netflix
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: When a secret from the past rears its head, a respected court scholar must choose between avenging her family and staying true to the prince she loves.

Why You Should Check This Out: This Chinese historical drama is perfect for those of us who love sweeping royal romances.

Content: TV-14

#42: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (2019)

Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung
Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung. Photo: MBC/Netflix.

Netflix Synopsis: Free spirit Goo Hae-ryung embarks on a new life as a scholar in the Joseon royal court after hearing about a government post for women historians. 

Why You Should Check This Out: Rookie Historian is an addictive romantic kdrama series you won’t want to miss. This is pure period drama escapism. 

Content: TV-14 (mild)

#43: Secret of the Nile (2016)

Secret of the Nile - 45 Period Dramas to Watch on Netflix – Mini-series and TV Shows Edition (2019)
Photo: Eagle Films

Netflix Synopsis: When his sister disappears while working at the Grand Hotel, a man joins the staff to get answers. Inside its posh walls, he finds love and intrigue.

Why You Should Check This Out: It’s an Egyptian 1950s version of the Spanish cult hit, Grand Hotel. So, expect lots of romance!

Content: TV-14.

#44 Selena: The Series (2020)

Selena the series Netflix poster

Netflix Synopsis: Iconic Mexican-American performer Selena rises to fame as she and her family make sacrifices in order to achieve their lifelong dreams.

Why You Should Check This Out: It’s a lovely tribute to Selena and pulls back the curtain on not only Selena but her family and friends as well. This popular series follows the Quintanilla family from the 1960s to the 1990s and is worth watching.

Content: TV-PG

#45: Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madame C.J. Walker (2020)

Self Made
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: An African American washerwoman rises from poverty to build a beauty empire and become the first female self-made millionaire.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you don’t go in expecting historical accuracy, you’ll love this inspirational series. It has an uplifting feel while also being super entertaining. Plus, Octavia Spencer is fabulous in the lead role.

Content: TV-MA for language (brief) and one brief sex scene in episode three. Overall, most episodes feel closer to TV-14. 

#46: A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017)

A Series of Unfortunate Events promo image
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: The extraordinary Baudelaire orphans face trials, tribulations and the evil Count Olaf in their fateful quest to unlock long-held family secrets.

Why You Should Check This Out: Okay, so this isn’t exactly a period drama, but the series feels out of time, so I thought I’d include it. Watch this one if you like ironic wit in the style of Pushing Daisies.

Content: TV-PG.

#47: Stories by Rabindranath Tagore (2015)

Stories by Rabindranath Tagore
Photo: Epic Channel

Netflix Synopsis: The writings of Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore come to life in this collection of tales set in early-20th-century Bengal.

Why You Should Check This Out: The stories focus on female empowerment and are set in early 20th century Bengal, a setting not often explored in period dramas.

Content: TV-14

#48: Stranger Things (2016)

Bob Newby – Stranger Things
Stranger Things, season 2. Sean Astin as Bob Newby and Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers. Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one strange little girl.

Why You Should Check This Out: Stranger Things is paranormal period fare at its best starring Winona Ryder. Check out this 1980s drama if you love the supernatural or films like The Goonies!

Content: While rated TV-14 overall, there are a few gory scenes that can make you queasy.

#49: A Touch of Green (2015)

A Touch of Green Poster

Netflix Synopsis: Amid the turmoil of China’s civil war, families of Kuomintang pilots face the pain of leaving their homes but find strength in their shared bonds.

Why You Should Check This Out: It’s an award-winning Taiwanese drama series about three women. It takes place between the years 1945 to 1971.

Content: TV-MA for language and smoking. Mild.

#50: Traitors (2019)

Traitors
Photo: Netflix/Channel 4

Netflix Synopsis: As World War II ends, a young English woman agrees to help an enigmatic American agent root out Russian infiltration of the British government.

Why You Should Check This Out: Spies and Keeley Hawes make for a great mix!

Content: TV-MA for a moderate amount of sex and profanity.

#51: Turn: Washington’s Spies (2014)

Turn promo image
Photo: AMC

Netflix Synopsis: Set in 1778, this period drama recounts the story of Abe Woodhull, an American cabbage farmer obliged to begin spying on the British enemy.

Why You Should Check This Out: Turn is a period drama set during the American Revolution. One of the stars is Northanger Abbey‘s J.J. Feild, so there’s that…

Content: This show is rated TV-14. 

#52: The Umbrella Academy (2019)

The Umbrella Academy
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: Reunited by their father’s death, estranged siblings with extraordinary powers uncover shocking family secrets — and a looming threat to humanity.

Why You Should Check This Out: Look, this is a weird show, so you have to like weird. But it’s super entertaining. (I binged this one in a few days.) 

And while this isn’t exactly a period drama, there were undoubtedly traces of it in season one’s alternate history. Moreover, one of the characters can time travel (he ends up in the 1950s at one point.) 

Season two takes place entirely in the past when the team time travels and gets stuck. 

Content: TV-14.

#53: The Vampire Diaries/The Originals (2009/2013)

The Vampire Diaries and the Originals
Photo: CW

Netflix Synopsis (The Vampire Diaries): Trapped in adolescent bodies [Damon isn’t but go with it], feuding vampire brothers Stefan and Damon vie for the affection of captivating teenager Elena.

Netflix Synopsis (The Originals): The Mikaelsons move to New Orleans and form an alliance with local witches in an effort to rule the city once again in this “Vampire Diaries” spinoff.

Why You Should Check This Out: Like all good vampire stories, there are several flashbacks to the past from ancient times up to the 1990s! We’re dealing with immortals, after all. 

You’ll want to watch both of these entertaining paranormal romances if you like romance, dark Byronic Heroes, and the edge of your seat entertainment. 

There’s never really a dull moment in either one. Plus, both shows are better on re-watch. Is anyone else missing Damon Salvatore?

Content: TV-14 for vampire violence and sensuality.

#54: Velvet/Velvet Coleccion (2014/2017)

Velvet TV Show
Photo: Antena/ Netflix

Netflix Synopsis (Velvet): In 1950s Spain, the heir to a fashion house romances a beautiful seamstress who works for the company, despite the objections of his family.

Netflix Synopsis (Velvet Collection): In the late ’60s, fashion designer Ana enlists friends Clara, Pedro and Raúl to open a store and design school in Barcelona in this “Velvet” spinoff.

Why You Should Check This Out: 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 in both.

Content: TV-14.

#55: Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures (2019)

Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures

Netflix Synopsis: A determined Qing dynasty princess contends with palace intrigue and a vendetta against her family while navigating the treacherous terrain of romance.

Why You Should Check This Out: It’s full of royal intrigue, romance, gorgeous costumes, and good writing. This Chinese series is a must-watch if you enjoy royal period dramas with an emphasis on romance.

Content: TV-14 (mild)

BONUS:

As said above, because The Silver Petticoat Review typically focuses on less explicit content. So, in the above list, I did not include every period drama on Netflix with overly explicit content or series rated TV-MA that I haven’t seen yet (or was not able to research) to give a fair content note. 

So, judge for yourself based on your preferences. Some excluded period dramas that you may want to check out include:

  • Babylon Berlin 
  • Bolivar
  • Damnation 
  • Freud 
  • Frontier 
  • Godless 
  • Hache
  • Hollywood 
  • Kingdom 
  • Knightfall 
  • La Esclava Blanca 
  • La Revolution
  • The Last Czars 
  • The Last Kingdom 
  • Marco Polo 
  • Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Ratched
  • Ripper Street 
  • The Borgias 
  • Thieves of the Wood
  • Troy: Fall of a City 
  • Versailles 

What period dramas on Netflix will you be binging this weekend? Sound off below… 


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55 Sensational Period Dramas to Watch on Netflix 2021; Pinterest image

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By on May 13th, 2021

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.

21 thoughts on “55 Sensational Period Dramas to Watch on Netflix (2021)”

  1. Loved this, much needed for us binge watchers 🙂
    But please do a little more review on Versailles, it’s truly an amazing series with breathtaking scenery and love stories to die for, literally.

    Hugs!!

    Reply
  2. Versailles should not be reviewed by Silver Petticoat Review because it doesn’t follow the guidelines given in the Old-Fashioned Romance 101 article of this site. Please read the article here (https://www.silverpetticoatreview.com/about/old-fashioned-romance-101/). You will find the necessary information in the part titled “Old-Fashioned Romance Checklist – As Defined By Us”.

    Versailles is a very controversial series. Even on IMDb they offer an extensive list of sexual, violent, and intense scenes that can be read here (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3830558/parentalguide).

    Reply
  3. What no Ertugral? My husband and I watched every episode (and there are over 250 of them!) in 6 months of this Turkish show. Some bad translation in the first season (humourous) but the costuming, historical background and gorgeous leading man are spectacular. This is why they created Netflix!!!!

    Reply
  4. As a fan of American history, I really enjoyed Turn when it aired on AMC. It’s based on the real life Culper spy ring, although liberties are taken. It gets a bit soapy in the romances, but the characterization is pretty good and the plot has a lot of twists and turns.

    Reply
    • This is a show I meant to get back into! I watched the first few episodes when it first aired and then somehow got behind and stopped watching. I love the actors and it definitely seemed like a good series!

      Reply
  5. Why do you consider a show about the 80’s a period drama and not #38: SELF MADE: INSPIRED BY THE LIFE OF MADAME C.J. WALKER (2020)?

    Reply
    • We do consider Self-Made a period drama. I’m not sure why you think we said otherwise. It’s on the list. However, we did say the series is not historically accurate, but that doesn’t stop it from being a period drama.

      Reply
  6. Another fantsatic period drama is Mindhunter. Set in the 70s, it’s a crime investigation/ criminal psychology TV show on Netflix (does have periodic nudity/gore due to the subject matter) with a side of romance. Loved it. Another one is Bletchley Circle: San Francisco. 4 female codebreakers in the 1950s (!!) try to solve murders, also with a side of romance. Ugh, I loved the lush 50s setting; much like Queen’s Gambit. Do check these out!

    Reply
    • Mindhunter sounds good! I will have to check it out. 🙂 I thought Bletchley Circle: San Francisco was exclusive to BritBox so I will have to check that out and keep that in mind for future updates of this page! Thanks. 🙂

      Reply
  7. We are looking for a list of series/dramas set from the 40s-70s around women who are growing with the times – set in college then following them as they stay connected and live their lives. There is romance but it’s more of the modern kind which may not involve traditional marriage and includes career women, one who find their new sexuality and activism…is there such a list?

    Reply
  8. Are there any other dramas that are more like Poldark? Or maybe even a list of dramas based off of romance novels? I just really want something so romantic that knocks me off my feet? I love knights in shinning armor (Im sorry I know Im a woman blah blah blah feminism hooray,..but I loved the whole being rescued), nothing raunchy or something that takes it too far sex scene wise?…..Man I feel embarrassed and stupid even writing that…but that’s how I feel and the rest of my sisters and family.

    Reply

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