The best period shows to watch on Netflix, Amazon, and television right now

With 'Howard's End' set to premiere in the US this April, let's take a look at some of the best period dramas on Netflix, Amazon, and television.


                            The best period shows to watch on Netflix, Amazon, and television right now

The critically acclaimed British period drama 'Howard's End,' based on E. M. Forster's novel of the same name, aired last year in the UK in November and December on BBC One. Owing to the popularity and high viewership of the show in the UK (it raked in an average of 6 million viewers over its four-episode run and scored a 92% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes), the show has been syndicated for a US premiere on Starz on April 8, 2018.

A still from 'Howard's End' (Twitter)
A still from 'Howard's End' (Twitter)

Despite its historical setting, the show has been praised for its contemporary relevance, well-thought-out dialogues, and complicated characters, with its maturity and expert pacing being of particular note to critics. One reviewer even called the miniseries "a sort of Downton Abbey for grown-ups."

Period pieces, though they are usually targeted at a more mature audience, have seen explosive popularity across a variety of demographics in recent years. They also count among some of the most critically acclaimed shows of our times and are worth watching twice. Here is a list of the best period dramas that are on television or available for streaming on Amazon and Netflix.

1. The Crown

'The Crown' is one of the most popular shows on Netflix at the moment, and it has an audience approval rating of  93% on Rotten Tomatoes. It follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II across six seasons, with every two seasons having different actors cast to play the Queen and her loved ones at various stages in her rule.

Claire Foy and Matt Smith in 'The Crown' (Twitter)
Claire Foy and Matt Smith in 'The Crown' (Twitter)

The first two seasons starring Claire Foy in a SAG Award-winning role as the Queen and Matt Smith as Prince Philip are available for viewing on Netflix. The show has been renewed for its third and fourth seasons, with Olivia Colman taking over from Foy, Tobias Menzies playing Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter tackling Princess Margaret.

Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II in 'The Crown' (Twitter)
Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II in 'The Crown' (Twitter)

2. Downton Abbey

The beloved 'Downton Abbey' follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawleys and their domestic servants as they experience the tumultuous events of the early 20th century. The show holds the 2011 Guinness World Record for being the most critically acclaimed English-language television series, and it also won a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries and an Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries.

The cast of 'Downton Abbey' (Twitter)
The cast of 'Downton Abbey' (Twitter)

The show has a 94% approval rating from audiences and 'universal acclaim' on Metacritic with a score of 91 out of 100. The last episode of the series aired on Christmas Day in 2015, but there is a very good chance that the series may be revisited in a film adaptation.

A still from 'Downton Abbey' (Twitter)
A still from 'Downton Abbey' (Twitter)

3. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Netflix has made available ABC's Australian drama series 'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' that stars Essie Davis in the role of a glamorous private detective named Phryne Fisher who takes on clients during the 1920s in Melbourne. The series was adapted from Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher historical mysteries series of novels that were published between 1989 and 2013.

Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher (Twitter)
Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher (Twitter)

The first series of the show follows Fisher as she navigates mysteries brought to her by her clients as well as her own inability to come to terms with the kidnapping and death of her younger sister Janey during her childhood. She is accompanied by her paid companion Dot (Ashleigh Cummings) and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) in her investigations.

The cast of 'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' (Twitter)
The cast of 'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' (Twitter)

4. Cable Girls (Las chicas del cable)

Netflix-produced Spanish web period drama series 'Cable Girls,' called 'Las chicas del cable' in Spanish, follows the lives of four young women, played by Nadia de Santiago, Ana Fernández, Blanca Suárez, and Maggie Civantos, who begin working for a telecommunications company in Madrid in 1928.

The cast of 'Cable Girls' (Facebook)
The cast of 'Cable Girls' (Facebook)

Since April 2017, two seasons of the show have aired, and it has been renewed for a third run scheduled for release in 2018. The show focuses on their relationships and the hardships they experience as working women in an era hostile to women's liberties and rights.

The cast of 'Cable Girls' (Facebook)
The cast of 'Cable Girls' (Facebook)

5. The Tudors

The premiere of 'The Tudors' on Showtime was the highest-rated series debut the channel had seen in three years, with viewers tuning in to watch the period piece that explored the multiple failed marriages of the infamous King Henry VIII (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers).

A promo for 'The Tudors' (Twitter)
A promo for 'The Tudors' (Twitter)

The show managed to have four successful seasons between 2007 and 2010, with a star-studded cast that included the likes of Natalie Dormer, Henry Cavill, Sam Neill, Peter O'Toole, Annabelle Wallis, and Maria Doyle Kennedy. Fans can now tune into to the show on Netflix.

The cast of 'The Tudors' (Twitter)
The cast of 'The Tudors' (Twitter)

6. Wolf Hall

Based on Hilary Mantel's fictionalized novels about Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in King Henry VIII's court and his hand in the execution of Anne Boleyn, 'Wolf Hall' premiered to critical acclaim, receiving an astounding 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 86 out of 100 on Metacritic.

A still from 'Wolf Hall'  (Twitter)
A still from 'Wolf Hall'  (Twitter)

The drama's cast receiving high praise from critics, with Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, and Claire Foy playing the lead roles in the miniseries. 'Wolf Hall' went on to win 3 BAFTAs and a Golden Globe. There is a third novel in the works, and the cast have already expressed interest in reuniting to film an extension of the mini-series that follows Mantel's upcoming release. The show is currently available on Amazon.

A still from 'Wolf Hall' (Twitter)
A still from 'Wolf Hall' (Twitter)

7. Victoria

The monarch who lent her name to the Victorian Age in England has been the subject of many books, films, and television shows, and one of these, the ongoing UK television series 'Victoria' has already had two successful runs and has been renewed for a third season due to air in 2018.

Jenna Coleman in 'Victoria' (Twitter)
Jenna Coleman in 'Victoria' (Twitter)

Jenna Coleman portrays the Queen in her youth as she ascends to the throne at the tender age of eighteen and experiences a deep infatutation with Lord Melbourne, played by Rufus Sewell, her mentor and advisor, eventually marrying Prince Albert, played by Tom Hughes, and starting a family with him.

A still from 'Victoria' (Twitter)
A still from 'Victoria' (Twitter)