If you’re anything like us, you devoured Bridgerton on Boxing Day whilst on the couch stuffing yourself silly with leftover Christmas ham and BBQ prawns. It was but a blissful eight hours that ended in tragedy when you realised you’d finished the entire season of Shonda Rhimes' binge-worthy Netflix series in just one day. While we patiently wait for news of a second season (don’t worry, it will happen), we’ve done you a serious solid and found 20 juicy, historical shows to fill the Bridgerton-shaped hole in your life.
Packed with sass, sex (we know you watched that rain scene on repeat) and of course drama, put on those comfy pants, and work your way through these 20 epic series that are just like Bridgerton.
If you couldn't get enough of Nicola Coughlan AKA Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton, then check her out where it all started in sassy historical drama Harlots. Set against a vibrant cosmopolitan backdrop of 18th century Georgian London, Harlots offers a bold take on the city’s most valuable commercial activity—sex. It follows a group of strong and take-no-sh*t sex workers (lead brilliantly by Liv Tyler) as they strive to make their way in a world that views them as disposable. It’s scandalous and hilarious—in short, it’s the perfect show to binge post Bridgerton. Catch it all here.
She might be the woman behind some of the world’s greatest poems but it turns out when Emily Dickinson was a teen, she was one badass babe—well according to this series anyway. In this AppleTV original we follow Emily Dickinson (played brilliantly by Hailee Steinfeld), as a teen, rebelling against her parents, falling in forbidden love and starting trouble. In this version of Dickinson she’s a mouthy, feminist and we dig her! Just like Bridgerton, the series only gets better thanks to the epic musical score including songs by Billie Eilish and Mitski. Watch it here.
It’s hard to beat the dreamy costumes in Bridgerton but we reckon the wardrobe department of The Great might just equal it. From Oscar-nominated writer Tony McNarmara (The Favourite) comes the wildy comedic rise of Catherine the Nothing to Catherine the Great, in a genre-bending, anti-historical ride through 18th century Russia. It stars Elle Fanning as the surprising feminist icon Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as her bratty yet hilarious husband, Emperor Peter III. Laugh your way through the first season here.
Based on the award-winning play The Audience, this series 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. It chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II (played initially by Claire Foy) from the 1940s to modern times and provides an inside look at personal intrigues, romances, and political rivalries. Watch it here.
War And Peace
If you want to relive one of the classics then tune into this BAFTA-winning apdation of Leo Tolstoy’s timeless novel where three young people experience life, love and loss against the epic backdrop of Russia’s wars with Napoleon. This epic miniseries packs a banging cast with Lily James, Gillian Anderson and James Norton. Watch it here.
This period drama series adapted from William Makpeace Thackeray’s classic novel is a must watch. Olivia Cooke stars as heroine Becky Sharp (she could teach Bridgerton’s Daphne a thing or two), who attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English society; against the backdrop of Napoleon wars. Binge all seven brilliant eps right here.
If romance is your thang, then Outlander is for you. 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. The only problem? She’s also caught between the love of her life back in the 20th century. Watch it here.
Spanning seven sexy seasons and starring the likes of Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill, go back in time to the early 1500s in England where passion, ambition and treachery collide in this compelling drama about the early years of King Henry’s VIII’s (Meyers) infamous 40-year reign—along with his six wives including the famous Anne Boleyn (played by Game Of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer). Expect a generous serving of sex and intrigue in this binge-worthy drama. Watch it here.
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. Watch it here.
Set in the 16th century, this vivid historical drama follows the inspiring but ultimately tragic story of Mary Stuart, the woman the world comes to know as Mary, Queen of Scots, and chronicles her rise to power amid a court full of sexual and political intrigue. There are four juicy seasons for you to binge right here.
An epic adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel; a story of love, injustice, redemption and hope, this miniseries is seriously epic. Set in war-torn France, the story follows the struggles and triumphs of those living in the underclass on a quest for a better life. It boasts an amazing set and wardrobe—just like Bridgerton—and stars Dominic West as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as Javert and Lily Collins as Fantine. Watch it here.
Pride And Prejudice
If the Duke of Hastings was giving you serious Mr Darcy vibes—you are not alone. So why not go back to where it all started with this classic reimagined miniseries of Jane Austen's greatest novel? The 1995 adaption by award-winning writer Andrew Davies is jam-packed with an all-star cast, including Colin Firth as Mr Darcy himself and yes the swimming scene is still worth watching on repeat all these years later. Catch Mr Darcy in all his glory right here.
This beauty dropped in 2017, before the Greta Gerwig reboot that smashed the box office—but we reckon it’s just as great. Set against the backdrop of a country divided, the story follows the four March sisters: Meg (Willa Fitzgerald), Jo (Maya Hawke), Beth (Annes Elwy) and Amy (Australia’s Kathryn Newton) on their journey from childhood to adulthood while their father is away at war. Watch it here.
Originally written by Margaret Atwood (yes the same glorious mind that gave us The Handmaid’s Tale), the story of Alias Grace follows Grace Marks, a poor, young Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who, along with stable hand James McDermott, was convicted of the brutal murders of their employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin), in 1843. 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. Watch it here.
Melding historical drama, romance and crime, The Borgias is the perfect sultry show to fill the Bridgerton-shaped hole in your heart. With an all-star cast of Jeremy Irons, Francois Arnaud and Holliday Granger, it takes place in the backdrop of Renaissance-era Italy. The plot goes like this: conspiring with his ruthless sons Cesare and Juan, and poisonously seductive daughter Lucrezia, the charismatic Rodrigo Borgia’s reign as Pope Alexander VI embroils the catholic church—and all of Europe—in scandal. Watch it here.
This historical series was a massive hit for a reason, much like Bridgerton, it has all the drama, longing romance and sassy one-liners that we’ve come to know and love. Set at a lavish, Edwardian mansion in the early 1900s, it follows the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. While the whole cast is amazing, we have to give a special shout out to Dame Maggie Smith who plays Violet, the stubborn, matriarch of Downton. Watch the series here and catch the juicy movie conclusion here.
The White Princess
With a tagline that says “Love to the death”, you just know this show is going to be a rollercoaster. Starring Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer, this historical drama is adapted from Philippa Gregory's best-selling novel of the same name. It tells the story of Elizabeth of York, the White Queen’s daughter (Comer), and her marriage to the Lancaster victor, Henry VII. Told from the perspective of three noblewomen waging an ongoing battle for the English throne at the conclusion of the War of the Roses, expect love, lies and betrayal. Watch it here.
SBS On Demand
Sex, spying and political intrigue—Versailles focuses on the coming of age of King Louis XIV as he evolves from a young King into an absolute monarch, a 17th century rock star with the mind of Machiavelli. Amongst the drama is the romance between King Louis and his queen, Marie Theresa, who tries to tame his wandering eyes and win his heart back from his mistress, the English king's sister. And you thought Bridgerton had love drama. Watch all three seasons here.
If you’ve seen the 2011 flick The Three Musketeers, this series is SO much better. Set on the streets of 17th century Paris, The Musketeers is a gritty, action adventure that follows a group of highly trained soldiers and bodyguards assigned to protect King and country, in a swashbuckling world of adventure inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s legendary characters. Watch it here.
The Spanish Princess
Taking viewers deep into the opulence of the Tudor royal court, this drama follows on from The White Princess. It tells the captivating story of the beautiful Catherine of Aragon, a teenager who has an eye on the throne when her promised marriage to the English Prince Authur falls through. As she navigates the royal lineage of England, in 16th century London, she sets her sights on the new heir, the dreamy but headstrong Prince Harry (sound familiar?). Watch it here.
Once you've got your fill of historical drama, laugh your way though these feel-good flicks.
Image Credit: Netflix