There are many things a historical drama ticks more than other movies. For starters, it’s the number one genre that goes all out with costume detailing (we’re looking at The Crown for that one), takes make-up to the next level (no doubt Elizabeth upped the ante here) and plays with historical accuracy like it’s nothing.
With this said, it’s no surprise the world is infatuated with these gems, so sit down and tune in, here are the very best historical dramas to watch on Netflix.
Perhaps one of the biggest shows on Netflix, The Crown (based on the award-winning play The Audience) tells the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world, Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street, and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th century. The Netflix-original drama chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) from the 1940s to modern times and the series begins with an inside look at the early reign of the queen, who ascended the throne at age 25 after the death of her father, King George VI. As the decades pass, personal intrigues, romances, and political rivalries are revealed that played a big role in events that shaped the later years of the 20th century.
The Last Czars
One of the most famous families in history, wrapped in romantic tragedy and mystery, the Romanovs were the last Czars (Tsars) of Russia, their dynasty coming to an end when revolutionists crept into their palace and executed the entire household, children and all. The Last Czars tells their story as a dramatised documentary, featuring historians filling in the grittiest of details, and performers setting the scenes of the events that lead to the end of imperial rule in Russia.
This epic tale adapted from Diana Gabaldon's popular series of fantasy-romance novels focuses on the drama of two time-crossed lovers. Claire is a 20th-century combat nurse who gets transported back to the year 1743 in a mysterious world that threatens her freedom and life. In order to survive, she marries Jamie Fraser, a charming beacon of testosterone with a dark past but, she’s also caught between the love of her life back in the 20th century.
A notorious gang in 1919 Birmingham, England, is led by the fierce Tommy Shelby who you know in real life as the legendary Cillian Murphy, a crime boss set on moving up in the world no matter the cost. Peaky Blinders is the absolute historical drama you need to binge through if you already haven’t.
Starring Timothée Chalamet as Hal, wayward prince and reluctant heir to the English throne who has turned his back on royal life and is living among the people, The King is a historical drama based on several plays from William Shakespeare's "Henriad". When Hal’s tyrannical father dies, he is crowned King Henry V and is forced to embrace the life he had previously tried to escape. Now the young king must navigate the palace politics, chaos and war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life — including his relationship with his closest friend and mentor, the ageing alcoholic knight, John Falstaff (Joel Edgerton). Directed by David Michôd and co-written by Michôd and Edgerton, The King co-stars Sean Harris, Ben Mendelsohn, Robert Pattinson, and Lily-Rose Depp. This one lands on Netflix November 1.
Originally written by the same glorious brain that gave the world Handmaid’s Tale (oh yes, we’re talking about Margaret Atwood), the story of Alias Grace follows Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), a poor, young Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who, along with stable hand James McDermott (Kerr Logan), was convicted of the brutal murders of their employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin), in 1843. James was hanged while Grace was sentenced to life imprisonment. Grace became one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of 1840s Canada for her supposed role in the sensational double murder, and was eventually exonerated after 30 years in jail. Her conviction was controversial and sparked much debate about whether Grace was actually involved in the murder, or merely an unwitting accessory.
Elizabeth made an absolutely game-changing wave for historical dramas back in 1998, going on to snag a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Cate Blanchett) and an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Based on the early years of Elizabeth’s reign when she was catapulted to take the throne after the death of her half-sister, her reign was doubted by many but she was cautious where she placed her trust. If you’ve got more time on your hands, you can also watch Elizabeth The Golden Age.
As an orphaned child, Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) is first cruelly abused by her aunt, then cast out and sent to a charity school. She eventually gets an education and ends up taking a job as a governess at the estate of Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Jane and Rochester begin to bond, but his dark moods trouble her. When Jane uncovers the terrible secret Rochester has been hiding, she flees and finds temporary refuge at the home of St. John Rivers.
Want to cry instead? Here are the best tearjerkers on Netflix.
Image credit: Netflix