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The Top 50 Best New Period Dramas of 2021

Our top period drama picks! Plus, a list of all the (major) new period dramas of 2021 you might have missed!

There were so many great new period dramas in 2021 that it was impossible to watch them all! And it’s equally impossible to pick the best new period dramas of 2021. But we tried anyway!

new period dramas 2021 featured
New Period Dramas 2021. Photo Credit: All Creatures Great and Small (Courtesy of Playground Television (UK) Ltd. ), Passing (Netflix), West Side Story (Amblin Entertainment/20th Century Studios), The Pursuit of Love (Amazon Studios), Miss Scarlet and the Duke (Alibi/Masterpiece)

Picked by us (Amber and Autumn of The Silver Petticoat Review), our roundup of the 50 best new period dramas of 2021 is packed with variety, showcasing the full range of period and costume dramas out there to enjoy!

We share our favorite period drama movies and TV series of the year on this list! From the usual returning favorites (Call the Midwife) to new series (Miss Scarlet and the Duke) and even to excellent new historical films everyone needs to see (Belfast).

We had one basic rule: It had to premiere in the United States in 2021 with more than just film festival availability. We also had to like it, of course!

There are delightful romantic period dramas, comforting British period dramas, critically approved historical films, epic fantasies with period influence (yes, we decided to include fantasy costume dramas this year), historical fantasies, murder mysteries, comedies, and more!


As a bonus, we’ve also included two extra lists for all the period drama fans out there. After our top personal choices, you’ll also find a list of all the 2021 period dramas that have not premiered in the U.S. yet (and will likely premiere in 2022) but could be available elsewhere.

And then another list of the new 2021 period dramas that didn’t make our list. Perhaps because we haven’t seen them yet or maybe they’re just not to our taste.

We’re drawn more to the romanticized and comforting period dramas than grittier historical dramas with tons of explicit content. So, that will be reflected in our choices. (We also omitted Bridgerton because it premiered at the end of 2020!)

For more period dramas to watch, check out our guides to the best period drama TV shows and best period movies on Netflix to watch and the best period dramas on Amazon Prime. For longer reviews, head on over to our Period Drama Review Archives – organized by the historical era.

And make sure to listen to us talk on the Patricia Raskin Show about our period drama recommendations and why we love them! You may even find a new period drama to watch.

So, without further ado, here are 50 of the best period dramas in 2021.

(NOTE: We included where to watch each period/costume drama. This is for availability in the U.S. at the time of publication, which may change at any time.)

The Top 50 Best New Period Dramas of 2021

(In Alphabetical Order)

#1 All Creatures Great and Small, Season 1

All Creatures Great and Small promo photo
Credit: Courtesy of Playground Television (UK) Ltd.

Nicholas Ralph stars as James Herriot in this British period drama about a young veterinarian and his adventures in 1930s Yorkshire. Based on the famous novels (and true stories) by Herriot, this charming series is the latest adaptation.

All Creatures Great and Small is full of romance and humor and perfect for fans of heartwarming period dramas like Call the Midwife or period dramas based on books/true stories like The Durrells in Corfu.

Content Note: TV-PG

Where to Watch: PBS Passport, PBS MASTERPIECE Amazon Channel. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.

(Season 2 premieres on PBS’ MASTERPIECE on January 9, 2022.)

#2 Atlantic Crossing

Atlantic Crossing promo image
Credit: Courtesy of Julie Vrabelova

Atlantic Crossing is a Norwegian historical drama about the Norwegian Crown Princess Martha and her relationship with Franklin Roosevelt during World War II. When she flees the Nazis with her children, she develops a close friendship with Roosevelt – who keeps her under his protection.

It’s a fascinating eight-part series starring Sofia Helin (a Swedish actress) and Kyle MacLachlan.

We love watching foreign period dramas as they provide new storytelling styles and viewpoints. The high budget, gorgeous costumes, and memorable performances make this underrated show a must-watch drama.

Content Note: TV-14 for a couple of non-explicit love scenes and brief strong language.

Where to Watch: PBS Passport, PBS MASTERPIECE Amazon Channel. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.

#3 Being the Ricardos

Being the Ricardos publicity still
Photo: Amazon Studios

Aaron Sorkin, the award-winning screenwriter from The West Wing and The Social Network, is back with another standout drama.

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in this period biopic set during a crisis in their careers and marriage.

Watch this one for the brilliant dialogue and Nicole Kidman’s mesmerizing performance. We love movies about movies, so if you’re like us and a classic film or TV buff, this one’s for you.

Content Note: Rated R for language and a couple of moderately explicit love scenes.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

#4 Belfast

Period Drama - Belfast
Photo: Focus Features

Kenneth Branagh directs (in perhaps his most personal film to date) this tale of a young boy from Belfast and his family’s experiences amid the social tumult of the 1960s. It’s full of magic, nostalgia, exquisite filmmaking, and a memorable soundtrack.

Belfast stars period drama fan favorites Jamie Dornan, Outlander’s Caitriona Balfe, Ciaran Hinds, and Judi Dench. They all give exceptional performances.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful historical drama and arguably one of the best movies of the year worthy of Best Picture at the Oscars, check out this masterpiece.

Content Note: PG-13 for mild violence and brief strong language.

Where to Watch: Rent on Digital (IE: Amazon Video) or see in theaters.

#5 A Boy Called Christmas

a boy called christmas photo
Photo: Netflix

A Boy Called Christmas is a charming historical fantasy about the origin of Father Christmas! It’s about a young boy’s quest to find his father and the magical village of Elfhelm.

We loved this delightful Christmas movie that will please everyone of all ages. The British film stars Maggie Smith, Joel Fry, Michiel Huisman, Henry Lawfull (as Young Nikolas), Jim Broadbent, Kristen Wiig, Sally Hawkins, and more.

Content Note: PG

Where to Watch: Netflix

#6 Call the Midwife – Season 10

Call the Midwife Christmas Special 2021 - Best new period dramas 2021
Shelagh (LAURA MAIN), Nurse Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE), Nurse Lucille Anderson (LEONIE ELLIOTT). Credit: Courtesy of BBC / Nealstreet Productions / Ray Burmiston

Call the Midwife returned with a new season this year, and the popular period drama series about midwives was as good as ever!

The year is now 1966, bringing many new changes to the characters. Lucille and Cyril’s sweet love story takes a new turn, Trixie makes a new friend, Sister Monica Joan has a faith crisis, and more!

As far as quality period dramas go, Call the Midwife never disappoints.

Content Note: TV-14 for intense birth scenes.

Where to Watch: PBS Passport. Buy on Digital and DVD. The new 2021 Christmas special premieres on PBS on Christmas Day.

#7 The Chosen, Season 2 (and Christmas Special)

the chosen poster

Season two of the crowdfunded series, The Chosen, premiered on The Chosen App in 2021. Our Mom is a huge fan of the show and got us to watch this year. 

We were pleasantly surprised by how good the show was. Dallas Jenkins writes and directs a lovely series about the life of Jesus and the people who knew him. Jonathan Roumie may also be the best interpretation of Jesus to date.

Overall, it’s an uplifting series to watch (with good characterization), especially during Christmas. And what’s nice about The Chosen is that anyone can enjoy it.

Content Note: TV-PG

Where to Watch: You can stream season one on various streaming services such as Peacock, BYU TV, Tubi, Kanopy, Crackle, Pure Flix, Vid Angel, and Plex. However, season 2 must be streamed on The Chosen App or bought on Digital or DVD.

The Christmas Special (Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers) is currently airing in select theaters around the country. Check your local listings or from the official site for further announcements and availability.

#8 Cinderella

Camila Cabello as Cinderella walking
Photo: Amazon Studios

The latest version of Cinderella starring Camila Cabello is flawed, for sure! But the new take is a fun movie musical with a modern touch and lots of great sing-a-longs.

Read our review of the film for more of our thoughts on it.

Content Note: PG

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

#9 The Courier

the courier publicity photo
Photo: Roadside Attractions

The Courier is a riveting Cold War spy drama based on true events about a British businessman turned spy recruited to help resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s a tense film with an outstanding performance from Cumberbatch.

If you enjoy historical spy thrillers, The Courier (while not the best of all time) is an excellent one.

Content Note: PG-13 for mild violence, mild partial nudity, and brief strong language.

Where to Watch: Stream on Amazon Prime Video. Rent/Buy on Digital and DVD.

#10 Cruella 

Cruella promotional art
Photo: Disney

Emma Stone and Emma Thompson star in this live-action feature film (set in the 1970s) about a young Cruella de Vil. It is pure fun entertainment with unique and innovative costume designs and a gorgeous production design.

And while Emma Stone is perfect in the role, Emma Thompson steals the show with her scene-stealing villainy.

Content Note: PG-13 for some mild violence and thematic elements.

Where to Watch: Stream on Disney+ or rent/buy on Digital and DVD.

#11 Dalgliesh, Season 1 

dalgliesh poster

This new British period crime series is excellent! Bertie Carvel stars as the Mr. Darcy-like poet-detective, DCI Adam Dalgliesh, who solves crimes in 1970s England.

He’s an empathetic detective with a poetic soul and an inscrutable personality, determined to solve mysteries – while also mourning the loss of his wife and child.

Dalgliesh has brilliant actors, compelling scripts, and a lead character that mesmerizes. We binge-watched the entire six-episode season over a weekend.

Here’s to hoping for a season two announcement.

Content Note: TV-14 for brief strong language, a few scenes of violence, and a short explicit scene.

Where to Watch: Acorn TV

#12 Death and Nightingales

death and nightingales promo photo

Death and Nightingales is a 2018 period drama that premiered this year in the U.S. on STARZ. The beguiling (and rather dark) Irish period drama stars Matthew Rhys, Ann Skelly, and Jamie Dornan.

The period drama is set in 1885 and follows an epic but slow-moving tale of revenge and love in the Irish countryside.

While it has pretty pastoral views and fantastic lighting, don’t go into this one expecting a comforting period drama. The idyllic imagery is in stark contrast to the story it’s telling. The drama’s dark and full of twists and turns. And some of the scenes are genuinely harrowing.

While polarizing, we still thought this was very well made.

Content Note: TV-MA for mild violence and a moderate amount of bedroom scenes and thematic elements.

Where to Watch: STARZ Amazon Channel. You can also buy it on DVD.

#13 Dickinson, Seasons 2 & 3

dickinson season 2 promo photo
Photo: Apple TV+

Dickinson is an unusual period drama and likely an acquired taste – especially if you disagree with this very modern interpretation of poet Emily Dickinson.

Although it has dramatic moments, the series stars the talented Hailee Steinfeld as the titular character and is more of a satirical comedy than a serious biopic. But it’s the humor and good writing that hooked us.

Still, it may not be to everyone’s taste. The final season recently aired on Apple TV+.

Content Note: TV-14 for some moderately explicit content and some language.

Where to Watch: Apple TV+

#14 The Dig

The Dig publicity photo with Carey Mulligan
Photo: Netflix/Clerkenwell Films/Magnolia Mae Films

The Dig is a true story about the famous 1939 Sutton Who excavation. When amateur excavator Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) uncovers an ancient wooden ship from the Dark ages on the estate of Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan), it leads to one of the most incredible archaeological finds in English history.

The period piece is intelligently written, wonderfully acted, romantic, and a tear-jerker. It has gorgeous cinematography and a story that will stay with you long after it’s over.

Lily James, Johnny Flynn, and Ben Chaplin also star.

Content Note: PG-13 for sensuality

Where to Watch: Netflix

#15 A Discovery of Witches, Season 2

Diana and Matthew time travel in A Discovery of Witches season 2
Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Now

A Discovery of Witches returned for the second season this year, bringing the forbidden lovers, Diana (a witch) and Matthew (a vampire), to Elizabethan London as they try to solve the mystery of Ashmole 782.

While in the past, their romance strengthens, and Diana develops her witch powers. Meanwhile, the dangers around them and their families increase.

We couldn’t get enough of this fantastic series as we love time travel, historical fantasy, and paranormal romance. It’s one of our all-time favorites.

Content Note: Ranges between TV-14 and TV-MA depending on the episode. Some episodes include mildly explicit love scenes (but they are more emotional), strong language, and supernatural violence.

Where to Watch: AMC+, AMC+ Amazon Channel, Shudder, Sundance Now. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.

Season three premieres in January!

#16 Doctor Who – Season 13

Doctor Who Flux - Village of the Angels
Doctor Who, Season 13. Photo: BBC

This Halloween, Doctor Who returned for season 13 with one six-part story: Flux. Doctor Who: Flux followed the Doctor and her companions across the universe when an ancient evil breaks free – leading to the possible destruction of the entire universe.

For most of the time-traveling series (showing a few different historical periods throughout the season), it was Doctor Who in top form (especially episode 4 – “Village of the Angels”).

However, while it had good parts, the final episode became a bit of an incoherent mess. Still, the overall season was a lot of fun and introduced us to a couple of excellent characters: Dan Lewis (a new companion played by John Bishop) and Professor Jericho (Kevin McNally).

Content Note: TV-PG

Where to Watch: You can watch season 13 on AMC+ and BBC America. The series returns for the New Year’s Special on January 1, 2022.

#17 The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

the electrical life of louis wain photo
Photo: Amazon Studios

Benedict Cumberbatch is at his absolute best here. The story, the drama, and an impressive visual style make this new period drama one of our new favorites. Plus, Olivia Colman narrates!

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain tells the true story of an artist who changed how society saw cats. The film also shows the love story between him and his wife Emily, played by Claire Foy.

Content Note: PG-13 for language

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

#18 Endeavour – Season 7 in the U.S., Season 8 in the U.K.

Endeavour season 7 promo photo
Shown from left to right: Shaun Evans as Endeavour Morse and Roger Allam as Fred Thursday. Credit: Courtesy of (C) Mammoth Screen

Endeavour returned to Masterpiece Mystery for a new season this year. The masterfully written series follows the cerebral and popular detective, Detective Constable Morse, played by Shaun Evans, who solves crimes.

If you enjoy good British mysteries and period dramas, Endeavour is a must-watch show!

Content Note: TV-14 for mild crime violence and language.

Where to Watch: PBS Passport, Amazon Prime Video, PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel. You can also buy the series on DVD.

#19 Frankie Drake Mysteries, Season 4

frankie drake mysteries poster

Frankie Drake Mysteries concluded this year with season four, so if you haven’t watched the show yet, you can now watch the Canadian murder mysteries series in total. However, it does have a bit of a cliffhanger.

The show follows a female private detective who solves mysteries in 1920s Toronto. Fans of Miss Fisher should enjoy it even if it’s not as good.

Content Note: TV-PG

Where to Watch: PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.

#20 Ghosts

ghosts publicity photo
Photo: CBS

Ghosts is a fun, witty comedy about the married couple, Samantha and Jay, who inherits an old estate and decide to turn it into a bed and breakfast. But when Samantha almost dies – she suddenly can see ghosts – leading her to learn that her new house is haunted and full of quirky ghosts.

While it’s not as good as the original British version, it’s an entertaining, fluffy comedy with characters from numerous periods throughout history.

While much of the story takes place in the modern-day, the show often flashbacks to each of the ghosts’ backstories. And even though it has a gothic look, think less Jane Eyre and more ensemble comedy. So, it has a comedic, gothic period feel and a strong cast.

Content Note: TV-PG for innuendo and mild violence.

Where to Watch: Watch new episodes on CBS or Paramount+.

#21 Grantchester – Season 6

Grantchester season 6
Tom Brittney as Rev. Will Davenport and Robson Green as DI Geordie Keating. Credit: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE and Kudos

While Grantchester isn’t as good now with Sidney gone, the murder mystery show is still excellent entertainment with the Reverend Will Davenport and the lovable Geordie solving crimes together.

Content Note: TV-14 for some sensual content and smoking

Where to Watch: PBS Passport, PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel. Previous seasons are also on Amazon Prime Video. You can buy it on Digital and DVD.

#22 The Irregulars

The Irregulars Netflix poster

The Irregulars is a delightful new urban historical fantasy with a great cast, fun writing, and intriguing mysteries.

It tells the story of a group of street teens in Victorian London who “help” solve crimes for Doctor Watson and Sherlock Holmes.

If you enjoy historical fantasy, supernatural storytelling, and urban fantasies, this one’s for you. Just don’t expect anything groundbreaking. It’s just fun entertainment!

Sadly, Netflix canceled the show, but it does end with enough closure to make it worth checking out.

Content Note: TV-14 for violence, sensuality, and brief strong language.

Where to Watch: Netflix

#23 Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise promo photo
Photo: Disney

Jungle Cruise stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in a period adventure fantasy inspired by the famous Disney ride. When Lily (Blunt) sets out to find a mystical tree, she enlists Frank (Dwayne Johnson) to guide her into the Amazon jungle. Unfortunately, they run afoul of multiple dangers along the way.

If you love movies like The Mummy or Pirates of the Caribbean, then you’ll likely enjoy this flawed period fantasy movie. It’s also much more of a paranormal romance than the previews let on…which is a good thing! At least for us.

Content Note: PG-13 for adventure violence

Where to Watch: Stream on Disney+ or rent/buy on Digital and DVD.

#24 The King’s Affection

the king's affection poster

We love Korean dramas, and this was one of the best Kdramas of the year! It’s a historical drama series set during the Joseon Dynasty. When the Crown Princess Consort has twins (a boy and a girl), the King orders the girl’s death because twins are considered bad omens. But the mother saves her and secretly sends her daughter away for protection.

Years later, Dami (the twin daughter) returns to work as a maid in the palace. When her twin brother dies, her mother convinces her to dress up like the prince and pretend to be him. Dami soon falls in love while in disguise. It’s all very Shakespearean and romantic!

It has great acting, beautiful costumes and settings, and a fascinating story. Of course, we’re always intrigued by stories about twins – being twins ourselves!

Content Note: TV-14 for violence

Where to Watch: Netflix

#25 The Larkins – Season 1

The Larkins promo photo
Photo: ITV

The Larkins is the latest adaptation of The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates with a diverse cast and lots of charm! It follows the adventures of the Larkin family in the Kent countryside in the 1950s with a style similar to the recent series, The Durrells in Corfu (and yes, it shares the same writer – Simon Nye).

The series has had a polarizing reaction from the audience due to the diversity and supposed historical inaccuracies, but we don’t see or agree with the complaints. Romanticized period dramas are just interpretations of history anyway – like a play.

The series is funny, sweet, and charming, with great performances from its cast. If you’re looking for a feel-good period drama to watch this year, we highly recommend The Larkins.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality/innuendo

Where to Watch: Acorn TV. New episodes premiere on Acorn TV on Mondays.

#26 The Last Letter from Your Lover

The Last Letter From Your Lover Promo art
Photo: Netflix/StudioCanal

When journalist Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) discovers a stack of love letters from the ’60s, she sets out to solve the mystery behind the letters and the forbidden romance in the center of them. As she unravels the mystery, she begins a love story of her own.

The story flashbacks between the present day and the ’60s, leading to a tense and fantastic ending.

The Last Letter from Your Lover is a lovely film with an engaging story and a great cast. It’s the perfect romantic drama to watch on a cold winter night.

Fans of Possession should enjoy it.

Content Note: TV-MA for a couple of moderately explicit love scenes and brief strong language.

Where to Watch: Netflix

#27 Loki

Loki publicity still
Photo: Disney/Marvel

Loki is one of our favorite characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this series gives us a new side of him that we love.

It’s funny, charming, strangely romantic, and full of action. Oh, and lots of time travel – even back to Pompeii!

Content Note: TV-14 for violence and language (mild overall).

Where to Watch: Disney+

#28 The Long Song

the long song pbs photo - best new period dramas of 2021
July (TAMARA LAWRANCE) and Caroline (HAYLEY ATWELL). Credit: Courtesy of (C) Heyday Television – Photographer: Carlos Rodriguez

The Long Song is a captivating adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel. Sarah Williams, the screenwriter of Becoming Jane, wrote a beautiful series everyone should see.

The three-part miniseries is set in 19th century Jamaica during the last days of slavery and follows the story of July and her horrible mistress, Caroline.

At times, The Long Song is difficult to watch due to the horrors of slavery shown in all its unrelentless honesty. But July makes for a compelling protagonist with narration that instantly draws you in!

Content Note: TV-PG but should be TV-14 for an implied assault scene and depictions of slavery.

Where to Watch: PBS Passport, PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.

#29 Miss Scarlet and the Duke

Miss Scarlet and the Duke publicity photo
Photo: Alibi/PBS

How much do we love this show? Let us count the ways! Miss Scarlet and the Duke follows the adventures of Eliza Scarlet in Victorian London as she solves crimes with Detective Inspector William Wellington (known as “The Duke”). And there’s lots of romantic chemistry and tension to keep you watching!

It’s an exciting British period mystery show with the promise of romance and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for years to come. Kate Phillips stars in the lead role.

Content Note: TV-14 for violence (mild overall)

Where to Watch: PBS Passport, PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.

#30 Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, Season 2

Ms Fisher promo photo season 2
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Acorn TV

Season two of the fashionable Australian period mystery show premiered this year on Acorn TV.

While not as dynamic or memorable as Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, this spinoff show about her niece, Peregrine, is still delightful and full of catchy ’60s music, gorgeous costumes, fun mysteries, and a memorable romance!

Content Note: TV-14-like

Where to Watch: Acorn TV or buy on Digital or DVD.

#31 Murdoch Mysteries, Season 14 in the U.S. (Season 15 in Canada)

murdoch mysteries season 14
Photo Credit: Shaftesbury Films

Now is a great time to start if you’re new to Murdoch Mysteries! It’s also fun for long-time fans as the Canadian period drama mystery show has been running since 2008 and is still going strong!

The series starts in the 1890s as William Murdoch uses forensic science to solve crimes – way ahead of his time.

It might not be the best mystery show of all time, but it’s still full of heart, romance, and entertaining stories. We look forward to season 15 premiering in February 2022.

Content Note: TV-PG for violence and language (mild overall)

Where to Watch: Stream on Acorn TV, Hoopla, or buy on Digital and DVD. You can also watch earlier seasons on Hulu.

#32 The Mysterious Benedict Society 

the mysterious benedict society publicity still
Photo: Disney

The Mysterious Benedict Society is an enthusiastic and lively period drama perfect for the entire family! The Disney series follows four orphans recruited by a peculiar benefactor to go undercover on a secret mission.

It’s a satisfying show with an excellent cast, good writing, and lots of family fun.

Content Note: TV-PG

Where to Watch: Disney+

#33 News of the World 

news of the world photo
Photo: Universal Pictures

Technically, New of the World premiered in 2020, but it did not have a wide release date in the United States until January 2021. It’s one of those historical dramas that flew under the radar – surprisingly, since it stars Tom Hanks and is an excellent film.

The movie takes place in a post-Civil War world when Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks) escorts a ten-year-old girl across the harsh plains of Texas to return her to her family.

It’s a traditional western with solid storytelling and outstanding performances.

Content Note: PG-13 for violence and some language

Where to Watch: HBO Max, HBO Now. You can also rent/buy on Digital and DVD.

#34 The Outpost, Season 4

Photo: Electric Entertainment/CW

The Outpost is an epic fantasy series (that looks period) that is far better than viewers think. It’s a summer CW series with a lower budget – but it does have gorgeous locations, fantastic female characters, lots of great romances, and an overall terrific story. The series also improved season to season.

Season four brings the diverting series to a close, so now is the perfect time to binge the entire show.

Content Note: TV-14 for mild sensuality and violence

Where to Watch: CW streaming app and IMDB TV. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.

#35 Passing

passing movie with Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson
Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson in Passing. Photo: Netflix

Passing is one of those beautiful films that stay with you for years after seeing it. The movie is based on the classic novel by Nella Larsen and tells the story of two former high school friends (both who are black) reuniting as adults in the 1920s. When one of the friends discovers the other is passing as white, it upends both their lives and leads to tragedy.

We love this one for the beauty of it and the powerful performances. All in all, it’s a breathtaking period drama.

Content Note: PG-13 for racial slurs and thematic material

Where to Watch: Netflix

#36 The Power of the Dog

the power of the dog
Photo: Netflix

The Power of the Dog is a beautifully written, acted, and directed Western starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Jesse Plemons.

The story (set in 1925) follows the brutal and toxic Phil Burbank as he bullies his brother George’s new wife and stepson.

The cast is excellent, the story fascinating, and the direction from Jane Campion top-notch. It’s a strange but beautiful film about loneliness that captivates from start to finish. And it ends in a pretty shocking way.

Content Note: R for nudity, some language, some violence, and brief explicit content.

Where to Watch: Netflix

#37 The Pursuit of Love

The Pursuit of Love promotional image with Lily James and Emily Beecham
Photo Credit: BBC/Amazon Studios

In this stylish period drama adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s beloved novel, Emily Mortimer writes and directs (and even stars in a supporting role).

The Pursuit of Love follows the close friendship between cousins Linda and Fanny, as their lives follow entirely different paths when they grow up.

The miniseries successfully showcases a unique take on the story with an impressive cast (including Lily James) and a modern touch.

Content Note: 13+ for mild nudity, brief strong language, and sensuality

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video, or you can buy it on DVD.

#38 Respect

respect promo photo
Photo: United Artists Releasing

Jennifer Hudson gives a powerhouse performance in this lovely biopic about Aretha Franklin. All in all, we loved it because the film pays tribute to the musical icon beautifully and respectfully!

Not to mention, Hudson is made for the role.

Content Note: PG-13 for suggestive content, strong language, racial slurs, and mature thematic content.

Where to Watch: Rent/buy on Digital and DVD.

#39 Schmigadoon!

Melissa and Josh in Schmigadoon
Photo: Apple TV+

Schmigadoon! is just so much fun and a treat for all fans of classic musicals! When a couple takes a backpacking trip to put a spark back into their relationship, they accidentally enter a magical town set in a 1940s musical.

They soon learn they can only leave when they find true love. But will they find true love with each other or other people?

The series has it all: comedy, romance, original music numbers, fantastic choreography, a brilliant cast, and lots of fun cameos!

We can’t recommend this series enough.

Content Note: TV-14 for suggestive dialogue and some language.

Where to Watch: Apple TV+

#40 Shadow and Bone, Season 1

shadow and bone publicity still
Photo: Netflix

Ben Barnes steals the show as the Byronic villain, General Kirigan. And let’s not get started on that smoldering kiss between Kirigan and Alina Starkov!

Shadow and Bone is a new epic fantasy series (influenced by Russian history) about a young woman and orphan mapmaker, Alina Starkov, who discovers she has extraordinary abilities that may save her entire world. But who can she trust?

It’s an enjoyable series with the right amount of action, romance, worldbuilding, and intrigue. We look forward to season 2 of the Netflix original series!

Content Note: TV-14 for moderate violence and mild sensuality

Where to Watch: Netflix

#41 Silver Skates

Silver Skates publicity image
Photo: Central Partnership Netflix

Silver Skates is a sweet romance about star-crossed lovers set against the magnificent backdrop of imperial Russia. It’s well worth your time with gorgeous costumes and high production values.

Content Note: TV-MA for one love scene with nudity. Mild overall.

Where to Watch: Netflix

#42 Spencer

Spencer 2021 movie
Photo: Neon Topic Studios

Kristen Stewart stars in this historical drama about a few days in the life of Princess Diana. It’s a mesmerizing film primarily due to Stewart’s award-worthy performance.

Content Note: Rated R for some language, innuendo, and a few intense scenes. Trigger warning for graphic depictions of an eating disorder.

Where to Watch: Rent/buy on Digital. You can also check your local theaters.

#43 This is Us, Season 5

this is us season 5 flashback
This is Us Season 5 flashback. Photo: NBCUniversal

Most of season five of This is Us aired in 2021, so we decided to include it on the list. Many flashbacks take place in the ’50s through the ’90s (but it can go even earlier than that every once in a while).

The popular family drama about the Pearson family continues to tell high-quality stories full of romance, heartbreak, drama, surprising twists, and more!

RELATED: 25 of the Best Emotional Shows Like This Is Us To Watch

We can’t wait to see how this brilliant series concludes in 2022.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality, adult themes, and language

Where to Watch: Stream all five seasons on Hulu or the most recent season on Peacock. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.

#44 The Vineyard

the vineyard photo; period dramas on amazon prime video
Photo: Amazon Prime Video/Atresmedia Studios/Boomerang TV

The Vineyard is a Spanish period drama series set in the 19th century and is an epic romance that should please fans of Grand Hotel. There’s lots of intrigues, family drama, and gorgeous costumes and locations.

It’s an addictive treat! In a surprise addition to the series, famous British actor Nathaniel Parker also stars.

Recommendation: Make sure to watch the series with the original Spanish language and English subtitles. Do not watch the dubbed version. You can easily change the Amazon Prime language settings.

Content Note: Episodes range between 13+ and 16+. A couple of explicit love scenes and some nudity are scattered throughout the series. But it’s mild overall.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

#45 WandaVision

Wanda and Vision promo image in black and white
Photo: Disney/Marvel

Technically, WandaVision isn’t a period drama; however, in much of the series, the characters live inside sitcoms from different eras – so we think it’s close enough!

WandaVision follows the married super-powered couple, Wanda and Vision, who live idyllic suburban lives. But soon, they realize something isn’t quite right about their existence.

The limited series is part mystery, fantasy adventure, romance, and even sitcom as it pays tribute to classic TV history. Out of all the Marvel series so far, WandaVision is the best of the bunch.

With quality writing, acting, and production values, you can’t go wrong with this new entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, and Kathryn Hahn star in this absolute treat of a series.

Content Note: TV-PG for a few adult jokes and some fantasy violence

Where to Watch: Disney+

#46 West Side Story

West Side Story 2021 dancing scene
Photo: Amblin Entertainment/20th Century Studios

Steven Spielberg directed this remake of West Side Story, bringing a modern take to the Romeo and Juliet musical. It’s absolutely terrific with amazing choreography, fabulous singing, great acting, and of course, expert directing.

When Tony meets Maria at a high school dance in 1950s NYC, a star-crossed romance develops between the two.

If you loved the original, you’ll love this new version. Even Rita Moreno from the original stars in a supporting role!

Content Note: PG-13 for violence, suggestive material, and strong language

Where to Watch: In theaters

#47 The Wheel of Time

The Wheel of Time Lan and Moiraine
Lan and Moiraine. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Television/Amazon Studios

Based on popular books, Rosamund Pike and Daniel Henney star in this fabulous epic fantasy series. Moraine, an Aes Sedai (a woman with magical abilities), takes five young men and women on a quest to discover which one of them is the Dragon Reborn – a powerful human prophesied to either help destroy or save the world.

It’s a tremendous new series with remarkable characters, promising love stories, gorgeous production values and costumes, and more! Fans of Lord of the Rings should enjoy it.

The Wheel of Time is one of our favorite new series of the year.

Content Note: TV-14 for graphic fantasy violence, a few scenes of sensuality, and brief nudity.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

#48 When Calls the Heart, Season 8

when calls the heart period drama
Photo: Hallmark/Crown Media Press

When Calls the Heart continues to provide just the right amount of comfort one might expect from a Hallmark period drama. Season 8 premiered this year with Elizabeth facing a huge dilemma: should she choose Nathan or Lucas?

It’s always such a relaxing show for us to watch and perfect for the entire family.

Content Note: TV-G

Where to Watch: Hallmark Movies Now or buy on Digital and DVD.

#49 When Hope Calls, Season 2 (A Country Christmas)

when hope calls poster

If you love When Calls the Heart, then you’ll probably enjoy its spinoff series, When Hope Calls, about two orphan sisters who reunite as adults.

Season 2 just started airing this year on the GAC family channel – strangely not on Hallmark. But fans of When Calls the Heart and When Hope Calls will want to watch the new episodes to see fan-favorite character Abigail Stanton and a shocking surprise appearance you’ll have to see to believe!

Content Note: TV-G

Where to Watch: The new Christmas specials are available on DIRECTV. It should show up to buy on digital soon. You can also check your local listings for repeats on the GAC family channel. You can watch the first season on Hallmark Movies Now.

#50 The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years promo photo
THE WONDER YEARS – ABC’s The Wonder Years stars Amari O’Neil as Cory Long, Milan Ray as Keisa Clemmons, Elisha Williams as Dean Williams, Saycon Sengbloh as Lillian Williams, Dulé Hill as Bill Williams, Laura Kariuki as Kim Williams, and Julian Lerner as Brad Harper. (ABC/Matt Sayles)

This remake of The Wonder Years is a charming and nostalgic period drama about a 12-year-old boy in Montgomery, Alabama, in the late sixties as he comes of age. The cast is excellent – including Don Cheadle narrating – and the scripts top-notch.

Overall, it’s a lovely, enjoyable series.

Content Note: TV-PG for suggestive references and language

Where to Watch: Watch on Hulu or buy on Digital and DVD. You can also watch new episodes on ABC.


Around the world in eighty days pbs picture
Ibrahim Koma as Jean Passepartout, David Tennant as Phileas Fogg, and Leonie Benesch as Abigail “Fix” Fortescue. Credit: Courtesy of Federation Entertainment

These new period dramas from 2021 have not aired in the U.S. yet but may be available elsewhere!

Click on the title for more information.

We will likely create a new post soon of the new 2022 period dramas coming, including these and many more like The Gilded Age from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, The English Game), Persuasion by Jane Austen, and Sanditon Season 2!


the waltons homecoming poster

Many of these period dramas below we haven’t seen yet. And a few we just didn’t like. But they will likely still be of interest to different period drama fans out there!

While we did our best to find all the new 2021 period dramas, it’s possible we overlooked some. We’ve linked all the titles below to find out more about them when you click on a title.

1883 – Just premiered on Paramount+ and is getting rave reviews!
Amina – TV-14
Anne Boleyn – TV-MA and on AMC+
Axis Sally – R
The Banishing – Jessica Brown Findlay stars
Blithe Spirit – Great cast within a poor adaptation
The Club/Kulup – Turkish Period Drama Series (TV-14)
The Cook of Castamar – Romantic Period Drama Series (TV-MA)
Coven of Sisters – TV-MA
The Defeated/Shadowplay – TV-MA on Netflix 
Domina  Season 1 (TV-MA)
The East/De Oost
Edge of the World 
Eight for Silver
El Cid, Season 2
Eternals – We hear there are flashbacks, but we haven’t seen this movie yet.
Firefly Lane – TV-MA
For All Mankind – TV-MA; This series looks excellent, but we haven’t watched it yet.
The French Dispatch – R
The Furnace 
Genius: Aretha
The Great – TV-MA; stars Elle Fanning.
The Green Knight – R
Halston – TV-MA
The Hand of God – R
The Harder they Fall – R
High Ground – Simon Baker stars
House of Gucci – R
It’s a Sin – TV-MA
The King’s Man – R
Kingdom: Ashin of the North – TV-MA
The Lady of Heaven – R
The Last Duel – R
Last Night in Soho – R (stars Anya Taylor-Joy)
Legends of Tomorrow – We usually love this show, but we admit we haven’t watched it since Ray Palmer was written out last season! We will probably catch up eventually.
Lovers of the Red Sky – Korean Historical Drama
Luna Park – TV-MA
The Mad Women’s Ball – 18+
Madame Claude – TV-MA
The Many Saints of Newark – R
Margrete: Queen of the North/Margrete den Forste – 16+
The Mezzotint – premieres on Britbox this month
Mortal Kombat – R
The Most Reluctant Convert
The Nevers – Season 1 – TV-MA
Nightmare Alley – R; Guillermo del Toro directs; the film has an all-star cast including Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett.
The North Water – TV-MA; stars Colin Farrell.
Old Henry – Western
Physical – TV-MA; stars Rose Byrne
The Power – R
The Rebel Princess
The Road Dance
Secret Royal Inspector Joy – Korean Drama Series
The Serpent – TV-MA; Jenna Coleman stars
Six Minutes to Midnight – Judi Dench stars
Tell Me Who I Am/Mistress of War – TV-MA
Them – TV-MA
The Tragedy of Macbeth – R; Denzel Washington stars
The Underground Railroad – TV-MA; looks excellent, but it’s also supposed to be very graphic.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday – R
Vienna Blood – Season 2
The Waltons: Homecoming
Why Women Kill – Season 2
The Wife of a Spy – Japanese period drama set during the Second World War.
The Witcher – Season 2; TV-MA
The World to Come – R
Youth of May – Korean Drama

What were your favorite new period dramas of 2021? Let us know in the comments below.

The Top 50 Best New Period Dramas 2021; Pinterest image


By on December 22nd, 2021

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