There’s no show that can replace Downton Abbey, let’s face it. But if you’re a fan of period drama, check out these excellent alternatives.
We strive to have a diverse and interesting TV show menu, but even more importantly, we strive to have a balanced one. While reality TV shows (especially 90 Day Fiancé) are great junk food, we have no problem clearing our plates of the vegetables (aka period dramas and related educational programming).
Since the series finale aired a few years ago, Downton Abbey has been our go-to show whenever we needed a healthy dose of culture. However, we’ve had to find other quality television shows to fill that void. Here are 10 more shows that fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy!
Madison Lennon’s April 17th, 2020 update: Even though Downton Abbey ended a long time ago, many of its fans still have a void in their hearts that they haven’t been able to fill.
The good news is that there are plenty of excellent period dramas to fill in the void left by the show’s complex characters and relationships, as well as its fantastic dialogue and storytelling. Thankfully. The following list has been updated to include a few more excellent options for fans of Downton Abbey who are looking for something new to watch.
1. Call The Midwife
As adapted from Jennifer Worth’s best-selling memoirs, Call the Midwife tells the story of a group of midwives and nurses who work in East London during the 1950s and 1960s. The hit show Call the Midwife has been renewed for an additional two seasons, taking it all the way through 2022.
Prostitution, miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, love, racism, religion, poverty, and other serious issues are all addressed in the series.
The newest series on this list, Belgravia, may be the best replacement for Downton Abbey fans. In addition to creating Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes also worked on the ITV and Epix co-production. His historical novel of the same name serves as the basis for the show.
The story begins the night before the Battle of Quatre Bras at the infamous ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond. Before traveling 25 years ahead to Belgravia, where we discover a startling secret linking two seemingly unrelated families, we first meet the Trenchard and Brockenhurst families in 1815 Brussels.
Due to the time-travel elements in Outlander, it is more dramatic and fantastical than Downton Abbey, but there are some similarities between the two series as well. There is plenty of romantic turmoil and shocking storylines in both of these beautifully-produced period dramas.
In comparison to Downton Abbey, Outlander leans more toward romance and has less incisive dialogue, but it is an engaging show with an all-star cast that is visually stunning as well as acting-wise. Also, the current season of Outlander is still on the air, so there will be no shortage of new episodes to look forward to. In terms of popularity, it’s a hit on Starz. If you enjoy it, you may want to check out Diana Gabaldon’s original book series.
4. The Crown
The Crown is a Netflix original series starring Claire Foy about Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family’s political and personal lives. Filmmaker Peter Morgan’s 2006 feature-length drama The Queen served as a major inspiration for the show.
The Crown begins in Elizabeth’s childhood and lasts through her reign in the twenty-first century. Netflix has decided to continue the show for an additional two seasons, making a total of five seasons. Every two seasons, the cast is recast to show the passage of time and keep the show grounded in reality.
Underrated Hulu Original series Harlots follows a brothel owner and a large number of her employees in 18th-century London. As Margaret Wells, the owner of a well-known brothel and mother of two daughters, we have Samantha Morton (The Walking Dead).
As a result of competition from a rival madam, Margaret finds herself in a power struggle to reclaim her position as the town’s dominant figure.
When the young princess, played by Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who), becomes queen at the tender age of 18, Victoria follows her life and rise to power. Prince Albert’s courtship and the unique political position of Queen Victoria are all explored in the show. She was the leader of an entire country despite being so young and needing so much guidance.
Those who enjoy elaborate costumes will enjoy this show (which is available on Amazon Prime and PBS). Sophistication permeates the show’s lavish ballrooms, decorated drawing rooms, and scenic backdrops.
7. Mr. Selfridge
As devoted Downton Abbey viewers, we believe the show is flawless in every way. When it comes down to our favorites, the costuming is a close second to the characters, plotlines, and historical accuracy as a whole. Watch Mr. Selfridge on Amazon Prime if you’re a fan of early 1900s fashion.
the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge, a self-made retail magnate who opened a chain of stores called Selfridge and Co in the early 1900s and which are still in business today, starring Jeremy Piven (Entourage) as the title guy. This series is filled with heartbreak, love, and friendship stories that are sure to leave you breathless.
8. Upstairs Downstairs
If you enjoyed Downton Abbey’s upstairs/downstairs dynamic, we’re willing to bet that you’ll enjoy Upstairs Downstairs’s upstairs/downstairs dynamic as well. From 1971 to 1975, this show (now available on Hulu) aired in the time period from 1903 to 1930. a new series starring Keeley Hawes, Claire Foy, and Eileen Atkins debuted in 2010 (who, interestingly, co-created the original series).
After starting in 1936, the reimagined Upstairs Downstairs gives viewers a good idea of life in England before World War II. But the show’s not just about politics; there’s plenty of family drama and levity to be found as well.
9. Ordeal By Innocence
A good murder mystery is something everyone enjoys. Ordeal by Innocence, based on Agatha Christie’s 1958 crime novel, is now available on Amazon Prime for anyone with the streaming service.
As soon as wealthy heiress Rachel Argyll is found dead, a classic whodunnit emerges. An arrest is made and it appears that the case is closed for her adopted son Jack. When a man shows up with an alibi for Jack eighteen months later, Rachel’s maid, husband, and four remaining adopted children are all in doubt. The investigation is reopened, and the many secrets of the family start to emerge.
10. Parade’s End
Apparently, someone got a Bedazzler for their birthday or something, and then they went crazy with star-studding the mini-series’ cast. the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Rebecca Hall (Holmes and Watson), Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), and Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle)
The life of British noble Christopher Tietjens (Cumberbatch) before, during, and after World War I is chronicled in HBO’s Parade’s End, based on a collection of Ford Madox Ford novels. In addition to his wife’s promiscuity, his relationship with an unconventional pacifist and suffragette puts their social standing at risk.
This Amazon Prime series, based on Winston Graham’s novels, is full of family drama, relationship drama, and just plain old drama. This will appeal to fans of Outlander.
Upon his return to England, Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner, The Hobbit) discovers his father has died, leaving an estate, debts and a copper mine for him to manage. Despite his dismay when he finds out that his childhood sweetheart (Eleanor Tomlinson) is engaged to his cousin, Ross finds solace in the form of a poor young woman. To say it’s scandalous for the time period would be an understatement.
12. The Durrells In Corfu
With a focus on the life of British naturalist Gerald Durrell’s widowed mother, Louisa (Keeley Hawes), The Durrells in Corfu (available on Amazon Prime) takes place in the 1930s and follows Louisa’s children as they move from England to the Greek island of Corfu. While the island is stunning, the children quickly discover that it’s very different from home.
Once they’ve jumped into unknown waters, the Durrells are compelled to learn the ways of the island and work to resolve their financial issues. The Durrells in Corfu, which also features Josh O’Connor from The Crown as Gerald’s older brother Larry, is a hilarious family comedy-drama.
13. War And Peace
It’s available on Hulu thanks to BBC One, so if you’re a fan of period dramas and/or Russian literature, that’s where you should head right away.
The story begins in Russia in 1805, just before the French invasion begins, based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel and starring Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Lily James (Cinderella), and James Norton (Happy Valley). There are many social conventions in peacetime that five aristocratic families must contend with as well as the devastation caused by war. War and Peace is a must-see miniseries because of its lavish costumes and top-notch acting.
14. Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall is worth seeing just for Mark Rylance’s (Ready Player One) performance, but if you’re a big fan of British history, you can’t miss it. This historical drama series, based on Hillary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, is both educational and entertaining. It’s available to stream for free on Amazon.
The plot revolves around Thomas Cromwell’s life (Rylance). It depicts his humble beginnings, ascent to power, and precarious position as King Henry VIII’s chief minister (Damien Lewis). Cromwell plays chess with the royals, orchestrating the assassination of Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), but he treads a fine line in doing so.
15. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, based on the Kerry Greenwood novels, is a delightful mystery series. In other words, as much fun as it can be to witness a string of murders. This Netflix original series is currently streaming. Also, prepare plenty of popcorn in advance, because this show is a real nail-biter!
Phryne Fisher is a wealthy, independent aristocrat with a penchant for solving crimes, played by Essie Davis (Game of Thrones). When it comes to solving mysteries in the roaring twenties, Dot Williams (Ashleigh Cummings) is Miss Fisher’s Robin.