Top 10: British period dramas to fantasize about

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Photo by Manuele Sangalli on Unsplash
Photo by Manuele Sangalli on Unsplash

The gap between fall and Thanksgiving break is the absolute worst. One way to escape the never-ending feeling of doom is watching TV dramas about people with very different problems. Here are the top ten British dramas set in the past that can help you live for the future:

1.“Downton Abbey

This show ended in 2015 but will forever be the crown jewel of British television. The series follows the Crawleys, a wealthy estate-owning family facing the trials and tribulations associated with the decline of their aristocratic way of life in the early 20th century. Watch it for Dame Maggie Smith’s iconic witty commentary alone.

2. “The Crown

Queen Elizabeth II is rightly deserving of her own biopic, and “The Crown” beautifully portrays both the personal and national issues surrounding her reign. The show has a unique structure, as its upcoming third season has recast the royal family in order to shift the plot to a later period of Queen Elizabeth’s life.

3. “Outlander

For those who think period dramas are dull and dusty, “Outlander” adds perilous adventure and intrigue. The series follows an English nurse after the end of World War II who visits the Scottish Highlands with her husband and travels 200 years in the past during a visit to an ancient stone relic. The protagonist is an unabashedly strong female character who proves herself in the most difficult circumstances. 

4. “Poldark

Set on the picturesque cliffs of Cornwall after the American Revolution, “Poldark” tells the story of a British captain who returns from war to find his family, lovelife and property in disarray. The show is incredibly beautiful and romantic but also includes daring acts of bravery and questions of morality.

5. “Victoria

Yet another beautiful story about an incredible woman in a powerful position, “Victoria” follows Britain’s youngest queen as she guides her empire through one of its most transformative periods – the Industrial Revolution. If you ignore the fact that Queen Victoria and her husband were first cousins, this show is handily the most romantic on the list. Its portrayal of the lives of both royals and servants also harkens back to “Downton Abbey.”

6. “Call the Midwife

An adaptation of Jennifer Worth’s memoirs, “Call the Midwife” is based on the real lives of nurse midwives living and working at a convent in the impoverished East End in London. Set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, this show is a heartwarming and sometimes hilarious bundle of joy.

7. “Pride and Prejudice

Any mention of period dramas would be lacking without some reference to “Pride and Prejudice,” the Georgian Era gem about two strong-willed lovers who have to overcome – get this – pride and prejudice to realize that they belong together. Jane Austen’s classic book artfully maneuvers issues of manners, class, and misunderstanding. The only reason why this TV series ranks so low is that the 1995 production quality shows its gorgeous film adaptation. 

8. “The Durrells in Corfu

Based on the novels by naturalist Gerald Durrell, “The Durrells in Corfu” follows an impoverished widow and her four exuberant children as they make the unconventional decision to leave behind 1930s England and make new lives for themselves on a sunny and singular island in Greece.

9. “Robin Hood

This is a version of the classic tale everyone hears as children – a brave hero stealing from the rich to give back to the poor, fighting the evil sheriff with clever tricks and schemes. However, the show is worth watching not just for the nostalgia factor – it includes a strong female character who acts as the brains of Robin Hood’s operations. Even though “Robin Hood” is an excellent drama, it is ranked ninth because viewers can still tell it was filmed in the early 2000s because of the excessive amounts of eyeliner on the supposedly medieval female characters.

10. “Gentleman Jack

Admittedly, I have not seen this show, but the premise alone warrants its inclusion on this list. “Gentleman Jack” is based on the diaries of industrialist and landowner Anne Lister who wrote in code about her romances with other women.

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