If you’re a ‘Peaky Blinders’ fan, here are 10 other dramas you should watch
Peaky Blinders has been airing since 2013 and is about to come to an end. Even though it’s been almost 10 years since the show began, only 36 episodes have been produced. In case you haven’t seen the hit series, Peaky Blinders follows the exploits of Tommy Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, and is loosely based on the true stories of the Peaky Blinders gang ⏤ a group of gangsters in Birmingham, England, after the First World War.
Fans of the series are likely wondering what other shows they can watch to close the gap in the off-season. Here are 10 that are thematically similar to Peaky Blinders and will help keep your mind off of the fact that you won’t be seeing the Shelby clan again following the latest season’s end and its spinoff feature film.
The show most similar to Peaky Blinders might also be the one that is the best on this list. The Sopranos aired from 1999 to 2007 and followed fictionalized mobster Tony Soprano and his goings-on with his “family.” The series focuses on the life of Tony Soprano as he rises in the ranks of his mafia family, deals with his unruly manipulative mother, and raises his two children while trying to not replicate his own upbringing and working through his many issues with his therapist.
It has the same familial bond that is ever-present throughout Peaky Blinders and shares a lot of the same themes. There’s also a chance that a show like Peaky Blinders never would have been made if not for The Sopranos, it being one of the first prestige format television shows, inspiring future shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men.
Now in its fourth season, Ozark is one of the most tension-ridden dramas to air in the last five years. The Netflix-produced television series stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney as a couple who wash money for a drug cartel. The show introduces almost as many new characters per season as it kills off. Again featuring the ongoing thesis of family drama juxtaposed with the world of crime, Ozark focuses on an entire family of money launderers. The series also shares the tension that Peaky Blinders has, as there is constantly a feeling that power dynamics could change at any moment on both shows.
Ozark has another thing in common with Peaky Blinders: this upcoming season will be Ozark‘s last. Ozark does not seem to have a movie deal to conclude its story, but if there’s any doubt that Ozark will stick the landing, you need only look at the finales of the last three seasons.
Starring Liev Schrieber, Ray Donovan is similar to The Sopranos and by extension Peaky Blinders, perhaps even more so than most of the shows on this list given that most of Ray’s family is in on what he does. He solves problems for the famous or otherwise elite by any means necessary while dodging the FBI. It deals with a similar idea that The Sopranos deals with, where most of the time Donovan is doing better at his job as a “fixer” than dealing with his own family, particularly his father and wife.
Like Peaky Blinders, Ray Donovan is coming to an end with a spinoff feature film. The show ran for seven seasons on Showtime from 2013 to 2020, so there are a fair amount of episodes to catch up on before you get stung by Ray Donovan’s cancellation.
Boardwalk Empire ran on HBO from 2010 to 2014. The show starred Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, a powerful and corrupt treasurer, political leader, and crime boss who deals booze during the prohibition era. He often deals with gangsters in the series as well as law enforcement agents. Kelly Macdonald and Michael Shannon give career-high performances and the show features a huge ensemble cast with fantastic guest and recurring stars, including Charlie Cox and Jeffrey Wright.
Peaky Blinders could be considered the closest thing to its English counterpart. The shows were released around the same time and are both period dramas. The protagonists are similar and deal with a similar premise, with Tommy Shelby becoming a Member of Parliament in Peaky Blinders and Nucky being a treasurer. The show is excellently written, created by Terrance Winter ⏤ a writer for The Sopranos ⏤ and is a must-watch for any Peaky Blinders fan.
Sons of Anarchy
Sons of Anarchy is about a motorcycle club whose members double as weapons dealers. It ran from 2008 to 2014 and focused on Jax Teller, played by Charlie Hunnam, who seizes control of the motorcycle club and expands it after the death of his father. The show is quite like Peaky Blinders, as it too deals with a familial organization.
The series deals with similar themes to other shows on this list. Jax goes through a lot of introspection as he decides what to do as he navigates his position in the motorcycle club, knowing that he might disappoint his family or, on the flip side, get them hurt. The series shares the brotherhood theme that Peaky Blinders has and is one of the better shows that managed to pull off a real sense of camaraderie, at least among the members of the club.
Weeds ran from 2005 to 2012 and followed a single mother trying to support her family by becoming a marijuana dealer after her husband dies. Even though the show wrapped up 10 years ago, it still holds up today and is a great watch for fans of Peaky Blinders. Weeds is mainly about family. The main character, Nancy Botwin ⏤ played by a career-best Mary-Louise Parker ⏤ is always hustling to try and make ends meet. The show is a total black comedy, with Kevin Nealon playing one of its funniest characters, the silly but smooth city councilman Doug Wilson.
Like Peaky Blinders, the series does take dramatic turns as the family desperately tries to legitimize its business. Ironically, Nancy trying to sort things out for her family tends to land all of them in more trouble, just like the escalating problems that the Shelby family faces in Peaky Blinders. Weeds is often more of a comedy than a drama, but as the stakes get ever higher with each new season, so does the dramatic tension.
Prison Break follows Michael Scofield, who purposefully gets himself arrested and put in the same prison as his brother so he can break him out. The first season is smart and incredibly well done as Michael, played by Wentworth Miller, sets his plan in motion and attempts to spring his brother out. The latter seasons decrease in quality as the series tries to reproduce the brilliance of the first, but the show is still very much worth watching.
The series has a similar tone to Peaky Blinders and features an unlikely romance and a large ensemble cast. It also has some of the most interesting plot twists to occur in a television series in recent memory. Every episode of the first season of Prison Break delivers superb drama and would surely satiate the average Peaky Blinders fan.
One of the best shows ever made, Breaking Bad ran from 2008 to 2013. The series follows Bryan Cranston as Walter White, a lowly high school chemistry teacher who gets diagnosed with an accelerated form of cancer and subsequently, out of necessity, discovers his passion for making crystal meth.
Peaky Blinders does not have a lot in common with Breaking Bad except for the fact that both shows are great dramas. There is the parallel between Walter White and Tommy Shelby, as both care about their families, but the entire plot of Breaking Bad surrounds White abandoning that notion as he becomes increasingly more evil. Shelby still cares about his family even though his ambition sometimes gets in the way. That being said, Breaking Bad is still one of the best shows ever made, and Peaky Blinders fans will love it.
Better Call Saul
One of the best shows currently airing, Better Call Saul is also about to come to an end. It’s a prequel to Breaking Bad and focuses on con-man-turned-lawyer Jimmy McGill’s rise as Saul Goodman. The show is part legal and part drama as it delves into Gus Fring’s drug business, which blossoms in Breaking Bad. Rhea Seehorn also gives a fantastic performance as Kim Wexler, McGill’s friend and partner who is burdened by having to deal with the consequences of Jimmy’s actions.
Better Call Saul is like Peaky Blinders because the thing it does best is escalate its drama. Characters make decisions that come back to haunt them in ways they would not have fathomed, which is also how Peaky Blinders operates. And if a law drama isn’t necessarily your thing, the intrigue surrounding the drug cartels would certainly be enough to keep any Peaky Blinders fan interested.
The king of drug-themed shows, Narcos would surely interest any Peaky Blinders fan. The popular Netflix series focuses on drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and his cartel. Of all the shows on this list, Narcos has the distinction of also being based on a true story. The series tracks Escobar, played by Wagner Moura, as he expands his empire while dealing with his rivals in the drug world and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). Pedro Pascal plays Javier Peña, the former DEA agent who helped bring Escobar to justice and imprison him. Later, following Escobar’s escape, Peña was involved in the search and killing of Escobar.
The brazen, powerful Escobar is a nice parallel to Cillian Murphy’s Tommy Shelby, who also ends up running a powerful group, albeit the size and scale of Escobar’s empire trumps Shelby’s, which is why fans of Peaky Blinders might enjoy Narcos.
All of these series are bingeable and available to stream now. Any or all will quench your thirst for crime drama and fill the void left by the terminus of Peaky Blinders.