The 10 best shows like ‘Bridgerton’
Make way for the wayward aristocrats, the powdered wigs, and the impossibly tight corsets ⏤ the highly-anticipated second season of Bridgerton is here.
The first season of the hit show from Shonda Rhimes is one of the all-time most-watched original series in the history of Netflix ⏤ the Gossip Girl of yesteryear. Narrated by the iconic Julie Andrews as the voice of Lady Whistledown, the Emmy-nominated period drama is bursting with copious amounts of salacious gossip and scandalous seductions. Set in the splendor of Regency Era London, the series is a Shondaland adaptation of the bestselling Julia Quinn historical romance novels.
“The main narrative arc of this season is this question of head versus heart or duty versus love, and which one wins,” creator Chris Van Dusen told USA Today of season two, which landed on Netflix March 25. The reviews are already pouring in along with celebratory tweets from enthusiastic fans, but fear not, Loyal Reader, for This Author will reveal no spoilers.
Time flies quickly for fans of sweeping period dramas and lovers of historical absurdism, and so we have taken the liberty of compiling a list of the 10 best shows like Bridgerton for your viewing pleasure.
Julian Fellowes’ lavish period drama Downton Abbey basks in 20th century decadence and intrigue. Fans of Bridgerton will be smitten with the grandeur and grace of the aristocratic Crawley family as their quest to maintain their social status in British high society is jeopardized by illicit romances and shocking twists of fate. Brimming with secrets and scandals, the show also explores the tensions between the privileged upper class and the disenfranchised working class in their service.
Outlander is a captivating historical drama about Claire Randall, a British nurse who travels to Scotland for a second honeymoon with her husband. Tragedy strikes during the trip when Claire mysteriously vanishes from her post-World War II life in 1945 and travels back in time to 1753 prior to the Jacobite rising. Bridgerton fans will relish the powerful romance between Claire and Jamie Fraser, a gallant Highland warrior. But can their improbable love last?
Dickinson is a coming-of-age story about groundbreaking poet Emily Dickinson that takes place in the opulent salons of 19th century Massachusetts. The series illustrates the world that shaped the bohemian young poet into a non-conformist. Dickinson is unapologetic in its use of modern-day language to underscore the protagonist’s free-spirited approach to life. Though she is critical of the many social and gender restrictions of her day, Dickinson explores a variety of fun and daring ways to challenge them. If you like Bridgerton’s modern spin on London’s beau monde, then you’ll love Dickinson’s reimagining of American high society.
The Great is a satirical drama about an outsider’s journey to the center of power in 18th century Russia. The outsider is none other than young Catherine The Great, a prodigiously clever young woman in a time when intelligence was shunned and vilified in people of her gender. The Great is bursting with pomp and circumstance that manages to surpass the beauty of the Bridgeton milieu. Amidst these lavish trappings, Catherine enters into a loveless marriage with her egotistical cousin Peter III. Without his support, she is left to fend for herself at a court that is hostile to her. Catherine must use her wit to adapt and survive as she learns to bend the world to her will and become Russia’s longest-reigning female monarch.
The Crown tells the story of a newlywed woman who ascends to the throne at the age of 25 to become Queen Elizabeth II. The series is a fascinating exploration of the intricate balance of of power in a changing world as well as the triumphs and tragedies of the British royal family. The Crown has an inimitable way of revisiting and bringing to life some of the most momentous events and figures in recent history. It’s filmed in some of the same locations as Bridgerton and fans will enjoy its modern yet historic take on the lives of British aristocrats.
The Gilded Age
The Gilded Age sees writer Julian Fellowes exit the fin-de-siécle environs of Downton Abbey to venture across the pond and tease apart some of the influences that shaped America during of the latter half of the 18th century. The Fifth Avenue clash of so-called “old money” with “new money” during a period of intense socio-economic transformation sets the stage for Marian Brook’s foray into the extraordinary world of New York City’s high society. Bridgerton fans can indulge in their love of family drama and flamboyant costumes in an unblushingly ostentatious new atmosphere.
This 16th century drama is a raunchy and audacious rendering of the life of King Henry VIII, beginning in his youth and exploring the tangled web of his personal and political alliances. His court is rife with scheming and ambitious status seekers in constant pursuit of opportunities to move up in the hierarchy. The Tudors is a compelling study of how the world order was forever changed by the Henry VIII’s unrelenting self-indulgence and sexual gluttony. Part of The Tudors that will appeal to Bridgerton fans is its audacious and occasionally shocking sensuality.
The Spanish Princess
The Spanish Princess is a period drama about the life of young Catherine, Princess of Aragon, and the surprising events that shaped her fate. The story unearths the feminine perspective erased by historians about the adventures of the tenacious teenage princess and her betrothal to Arthur, Prince of Wales and future King of England. Tragedy strikes and Catherine must reconsider her options to maintain her status. It is in this context that she takes an interest in another member of the royal family, Prince Harry. The Spanish Princess is a continuation of the Starz Tudor universe following the release of the first two fantastically binge-worthy miniseries The White Queen and The White Princess. Bridgerton lovers will delight in the absorbing romance of The Spanish Princess.
This epic period drama is set in France during the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars where the injustices of the era are encompassed in the story of a former convict, the impoverished Jean Valjean, who is relentlessly persecuted by the dreaded Inspector Javert. Valjean’s life is stained by his crime of stealing bread to feed his family. However, the Victor Hugo classic Les Misérables boldly suggests that the greater ill is the existence of a social order that punishes acts of survival in times of hardship. Bridgerton fans will luxuriate in the powerful love story at the heart of Les Misérables.
After spending half of her life in a convent, the teenage Mary, Queen of Scotland, is promised to marry Prince Francis, the son and heir of Catherine de Medici, and Henry II, King of France. Though the stylish young queen finds her new fiancé attractive, she gets caught in a lover’s triangle with the Prince and his brooding half-brother. What’s more, Mary must learn to weather storms of the envy she encounters at the French court. At its core, Reign is a story about the challenges and grit of an outsider whose survival depends on her ability to find her place and form alliances in her new home. The suspense of the romantic rivalry for Queen Mary’s heart make Reign a perfect fit for Bridgerton lovers.