As the upcoming season is teased on Netflix, the platform’s newest regency show, “Bridgerton,” draws in viewers and readers alike. Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” series was brought to life this past new year, but as everyone holds their breath for Season 2, they can’t help but wonder what it will bring for the Bridgerton clan. Until then, what should viewers watch next?
Instead of pretending to be Lady Whistledown inside your home and swooning over the love interests in the show, here’s a list of regency and other high society TV shows that just might hold your interest until the next season — as well as build on some of the themes of “Bridgerton.”
1. “The Crown” on Netflix (2016- )
This Netflix original drama chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to modern times. Probably the most historically accurate show on this list, “The Crown” puts women at the forefront of changing social norms and politics.
Showing the many different ways women exercise power, it gives a very feminist perspective similar to that of “Bridgerton.” “The Crown” is a highly-charged drama that also features many romances, but it is clear that the one true romance is between the crown and those who serve it.
2. “Reign” on Netflix (2013-2017)
With only four seasons, “Reign” is a more fictional and fantastical take on the life of Mary Queen of Scots. “Reign” is another show that features a woman in power, and it depicts romantic relationships between not just the king and queen, but also between the side characters.
Angst, drama and betrayal is a classic recipe for a great monarchy and period drama. Compared to “Bridgerton,” “Reign” is less modern and lighthearted, but there are many heartwarming moments that exist between the more soap opera-like moments of the show.
3. “Dickinson” on Apple TV (2019- )
In “Dickinson,” writer and poet Emily Dickinson tries to navigate societal constraints and restrictions alongside her passions. Sound like Eloise Bridgerton, anyone? Though the show is depicted more as a dark comedy, it’s the perfect modern-age and coming-of-age show that balances the more mature drama presented in “Bridgerton.”
Starring Hailee Steinfeld, the show rebukes the idea that Dickinson was an old spinster; instead, it spins the narrative that she was in love with her childhood best friend and sister-in-law, Susan. In “Bridgerton,” viewers see a brief glimpse of LGBTQ+ representation between Benedict and a painter, though it is never fully developed. Hopefully, that storyline will be more fleshed out in the next season.
4. “The Tudors” on Hulu (2007-2011)
“The Tudors” is an oldie but goodie. Taking place between 1509 and 1547, several centuries before the events in “Bridgerton,” the show focuses predominantly on England’s male leader King Henry VIII.
It’s a fairly accurate depiction of the time period; not to mention, there are plenty of romantic interactions to keep “Bridgerton” viewers going. Though it’s not exactly your happily-ever-after story, I can always appreciate this show for the drama and plot twists it provides.
5. “The White Queen” on STARZ (2013)
“The White Queen” is a 10-episode British miniseries that tells the story of the 1462 war in England over the country’s true king, as well as the three women who also fight for the crown. It’s a story about betrayal, power and seduction — all of the things “Bridgerton” offers. Only this time, the fight isn’t for the man (even if these women pretend it is), it’s for the power. What more could you want from a series?
6. “The Great” on Hulu (2020- )
In this satirical drama, Catherine The Great plots to kill her husband to save her country. The show’s lighthearted approach feels modern, like “Bridgerton,” and even though it seems more like a comedy, it doesn’t lose any of its drama as the schemes grow more extravagant.
With Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as Peter III, it’s an endearing watch. It avoids the heavy tone often found in shows set in earlier time periods, making it a good escapist television series.
7. “The Royals” on Amazon Prime (2015-2018)
“The Royals” portrays a contemporary, 21st-century monarchy, and so, it made the list. It’s an exceptionally modern, sexy and dramatic take on a fictional family in Britain.
Full of romance, not-so-accidental deaths and many different modern-day issues — such as sexual assault and what it means to be a woman in power — this show gives the behind-the-scenes of a royal family’s glamor. The characters battle love, society and their families; if “Bridgerton” wasn’t set in the 1800s, perhaps it would have looked like this — but with even more siblings.
Diversity, Costumes, Set!
There have been many criticisms over the historical inaccuracies of the costumes in “Bridgerton,” as well as questions over whether Britain in the 1800s was as diverse as the show’s casting. However, the point of a show like this isn’t always to be historically accurate, but rather to entertain — and that’s what it does.
Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick wanted to represent the characters rather than the time period, and as for the diverse cast, it is actually a pleasant surprise and very on-brand for Shonda Rhimes, executive producer of not only “Bridgerton,” but also “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder” and “Grey’s Anatomy” — just to name a few.
The show doesn’t necessarily have to be historically accurate if you have creative license to change things for the benefit of those watching it. It should be fun to watch; “Bridgerton” is, and so are these other shows. They take different elements of history and fiction to create a story that will thrust viewers back in time.