There’s no show that’ll ever be able to replace Downton Abbey, that’s for sure. 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 menu. 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. Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy these ten additional shows.
Madison Lennon posted the following update on April 17, 2020: 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.
To their credit, there are a plethora of excellent period dramas available for fans who are missing the series’ complex characters, intertwined plots, and superb storytelling. We’ve added a few more great options to our list below for anyone looking for something to replace Downton Abbey.
1. Call The Midwife
As based on 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. Call the Midwife 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.
If you’re missing Downton Abbey, check out the new series Belgravia. It’s the best replacement for the beloved period drama. In addition to creating Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes also worked on the ITV and Epix co-production. There is a series based on his book of the same name which is a historical novel.
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. It’s one of the most popular shows 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 extended the series by an additional two seasons, bringing the total number of seasons to five. Every two seasons, the cast is recast to show the passage of time and keep the show grounded in reality.
An underappreciated Hulu Original series, Harlots tells the story of a brothel owner and many 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).
Margaret has to contend with a rival madam who wants to retake control of the town at all costs. Margaret is determined to win.
Featuring Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman as the young princess, Victoria chronicles her life as she ascends to the throne at the age of 18. In the show, we learn about Queen Victoria’s personal problems, her strict upbringing, her courtship with Prince Albert, and her unique political position.. She was the leader of an entire country despite being so young and needing so much guidance.
If you enjoy elaborate costumes, this show (available on Amazon Prime and PBS) is for you. The show exudes sophistication at every turn, from the opulent ballrooms to the ornate drawing rooms to the picturesque landscapes.
7. Mr. Selfridge
As devoted Downton Abbey viewers, we believe the show is flawless in every way. But if we had to choose just a few favorites, we’d say the costuming is the best part of the show, right after the characters, plots, and historical accuracy. For more early 1900s fashion, check out Mr. Selfridge on Amazon Prime.
It tells the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge, a self-made retail magnate who opened a chain of retail stores called Selfridge & Co in the early 1900s and are still in business today. Mr. Selfridge stars Jeremy Piven (Entourage) as the title guy. This series is full of drama, with stories about love, loss, and friendship revolving around them.
8. Upstairs Downstairs
If you enjoyed Downton Abbey’s upstairs/downstairs dynamic, 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. Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard) and Claire Foy (The Crown) star in the 2010 reboot (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. Of course, the show isn’t 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. If you have Amazon Prime, you can binge watchOrdeal by Innocence, based on Agatha Christie’s 1958 crime novel of the same name.
When wealthy heiress Rachel Argyll is found dead in her family’s home, a classic whodunnit unfolds. When her adopted son Jack’s fingerprints are found at the scene and he is arrested, the case appears to be solved. There is an alibi for Jack that arrives 18 months after Rachel’s maid and husband have been called into question. 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 cast of this miniseries, as evidenced by Parade’s Endis The cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Rebecca Hall (Holmes and Watson), Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), and Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle).
From before World War I until the end, Benedict Cumberbatch plays British noble Christopher Tietjens (Cumberbatch), as told in a series of novels by Ford Madox Ford for HBO. 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 is a must-read for 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 upon learning of the engagement of his childhood sweetheart (Eleanor Tomlinson) to his cousin, Ross finds solace in the form of a poor young woman named Demelza. 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.
The Durrells are forced to adjust to the island’s ways and work to resolve their financial problems after plunging headfirst into unknown waters. 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
In case you’re a fan of period dramas and/or Russian literature, make a beeline for Hulu right now to watch BBC One’s War and Peace.
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. As a result of its lavish production values and stellar acting, War and Peace is an essential viewing experience.
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 the life and times of Thomas Cromwell (Rylance). There is a picture of his humble beginnings, as well as his rise to power and his precarious position as Henry VIII’s chief minister (Damien Lewis). Cromwell plays chess with the royals, orchestrating the assassination of Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), but he treads very thin water.
15. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, based on the Kerry Greenwood novels, is a delightful mystery series. You know, as much of a delight as a string of homicides can be. This Netflix original series is available to stream right now. 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). Dot Williams (Ashleigh Cummings) is Miss Fisher’s paid companion and the Robin to her Batman persona. The two of them work together to solve mysteries in 1920s Melbourne.