Period dramas are one of the most fascinating things on Earth. Period.
I have always been intrigued by these dramas set in a time which we don't know very well. A better time in a sense, a simpler time for sure.
Ever felt like it would have been such a better life had you been born in a different era?
Ruminating about how things would have been had you lived in another period, another era.
No school, no need to slog for hours on at an end on a computer for peanuts, idyllic hours where you can sit and relax and think about the complexities of life and ponder nature's mysteries.
Glitzy parties with good-looking men and women, kings, queens, a lot of dancing, balls, huge mansions, pristine cottages, women in intricate gowns (wearing body-numbing corsets), men in suave suits.
Articulate speeches (which rival your limited vocabulary), romances which knock you off your feet and make you feel whole, clandestine affairs which shouldn't be known to a soul.
Oh, the beauty of it all!
So, if you are a period drama enthusiast (read fanatic who tries to appear normal by using the term “enthusiast”), here are six shows which right up your alley:1. Downton Abbey (2010-2015):
© ITV Studios/ITV/Carnival Films
Set in 1912, tragedy strikes the affluent Crawley family of Downton Abbey when their only heir drowns while aboard the Titanic.
With no heir apparent to bequeath the title and the fortune to, except his daughter Mary (Michelle Dockery) who can't inherit as per law, the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), has no other choice but to find the next heir.
As a shock to the family, the heir happens to be a middle-class solicitor, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), Robert's third cousin (once removed), which doesn't go down well with the patrician family.
Meanwhile, Robert's wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), and Robert's mother, Dowager Countess Violet (Maggie Smith), unable to witness the years of Robert's meticulous work for Downton go down the drain, hatch a plan to challenge the rules of the will so that Mary may inherit the fortune as well as the estate.
Parallelly, the series also focuses on the help, the servants of Downton Abbey, headed by the butler, Mr Carson and the housekeeper, Mrs Hughes and how they make the mansion a home for the people upstairs while dealing with their own problems.
Spread over six seasons, the series intelligently includes momentous events from the early 20th century: the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the First World War, the Spanish Influenza, the Marconi Scandal, et al and how these events change the lives of the characters; rich and poor alike.
An exquisite drama centring on the beauty of human relationships; because at the end of the day, everyone is human, social stature notwithstanding.
The exceptional cinematography is sure to take you back to the turn of the century.
Splendid performances by the ensemble cast; everyone is perfect in their role!
Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, Violet Crawley; with her acid tongue, cutting remarks and sarcastic wit encased in one-liners is a treat to watch.
Penelope Wilton as Mrs Crawley and Maggie Smith make an iconic duo which only a few fictional pairs can match!
No. of Seasons: 62. Mad Men (2007-2015):
© Weiner Bros./Silvercup Studios/Lionsgate Television/AMC
Centring on the mercurial rise of advertising in the early 1960s in America, this series focuses on the Madison Avenue firm “Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency” in New York.
Enter the swinging sixties with glittering parties, scandalous affairs, fabulous fashion and excessive smoking as Don Draper makes his way in the bad, bad business of advertising.
Featuring an ensemble cast, the series focuses on the lives of the characters, both personal and professional, mainly on Don Draper, as they traverse New York's bundling love for advertising.
As we witness Don Draper's rise to becoming one of the best advertising minds of the era, his crumbling personal life with numerous affairs, punctuated with chain-smoking, adds to the drama.
A case study in how the business world works, the series presents a new perspective on the era gone by, cleverly depicting the politics in the workplace and how people stop at nothing to achieve success.
The 1960s also changed the perspective of the world regarding working women; they were no longer just the secretaries but moved on to better roles as managers and copywriters, as showcased by Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks).
An epic drama which lays bare the real nature of humans: selfishness.
The man-eat-man world is wonderfully portrayed through Don, who can go to any level to secure his position in the company and is unafraid to use his charm and aura for getting his way and things done.
His need to succeed eventually leads him to a path of self-destruction and later, redemption.
The opening credits is a marvellous depiction of life; the rise and fall of humans.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper makes a convincing 1950s man, the quintessential megalomaniac who can't let anyone get ahead of him in any aspect of his life.
No. of Seasons: 73. The Tudors (2007-2010):
© Reveille Eire/ Sony Pictures Television/ Showtime Networks
A charming history lesson; written and produced by Michael Hirst, based on King Henry VIII and his unconventional lifestyle, The Tudors is a fictionalized version of the Tudor family's most notorious member, most importantly remembered for his multiple (six!) marriages and the changes he brought about in the manoeuvrings of the English Throne.
Coursing through the life and times of Henry VIII, set in the 16th century, we follow him as he sets on the quest to make divorce legal in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, after falling in love with Anne Boleyn while being married to Katherine of Aragon.
The series then focuses on the English Reformation; the separation of the Church of England from the papal authority and the eventual annulment of his marriage to Katherine. His relationship and treaties with the French kingdom and the intrigues of his court also form the crux of the series.
The series also focuses on his term as king, the problems he had to face in order to retain his title and prove his effectiveness as king
As we witness the various marriages and the aftermath of them, we get to see the human side of the oft-mentioned, infamous ruler.
The sensual tone of the show and the beatific locations will leave you spellbound; who could think that history could be so enticing? :P
Jonathan Rhys Meyer's portrayal of King Henry VIII is commendable.
Don't miss Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, before she captivated our hearts as Queen Margery in 'Game of Thrones'!
No. of Seasons: 44. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-):
© Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions/Amazon Studios/Amazon Video
Comedy works because of two things: it's funny because it's true and it's funny until it happens to you.
Midge Maisel's (Rachel Brosnahan) life is the perfect American Dream in the 1950s. Her slightly eccentric and funny disposition only adds to her charm.
But her seemingly perfect life goes for a toss when her husband, Joel, leaves her for his secretary.
Bewildered, confused and drunk, she ends up in a downtown café, The Gaslight, and does her first impromptu stand-up while being completely unaware of it and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Midge wakes up to a talent she had been sleeping on for so many years.
Guided by Susie (Alex Borstein), the perpetually angry bartender of The Gaslight, and armed with her exceptional humor and wit, she starts her new secret (from her strict Jewish family) life as a comedienne in the male-dominated stand-up scene of 1950s New York.
Will she succeed? Only time will tell!
A beautiful, melodious soundtrack heavily influenced by Jazz, which will transport you back to 1950s New York.
Rachel Brosnahan as “Miriam 'Midge' Maisel” is phenomenal, you need to see her to believe it. The way she owns the character is admirable and she makes you relate to Midge at the most primal level.
The series drives home the fact that we always don't know what we are capable of until we are tested.
The humour in the show is top-notch, the jokes are funny and organic, and the comedy timing of the characters is impeccable; a testament to Amy Sherman-Palladino's iconic style.
No. of Seasons: 2 (Season 3 to be released in late 2019)5. Anne with an E (2017-):
© Netflix/CBC/Northwood Entertainment
Based on the “Anne of Green Gables” books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and produced by Moira Walley-Beckett, this drama is an updated and darker take on Anne Shirley Cuthbert.
Anne (Amybeth McNulty) is over the moon when she finds out that she has been adopted by a family in Avonlea.
But her happiness is short-lived as her adoptive guardians, brother-sister duo Matthew (R.H. Thomson) and Marilla (Geraldine James), refuse to take her in because they had asked for a boy from the adoption agency.
Heartbroken, she pleads with them to keep her on because she doesn't want to return to the horror-filled memories of her past.
Charmed by her loquacious nature, Matthew Cuthbert decides to add her to their family but is initially opposed by his sister who doesn't bode well with the creative pursuits of Anne.
Eventually, Marilla gives in and they start their life as a family.
The series then follows the adventures of Anne, as she moves on from her orphaned/social pariah status to becoming the darling of the village, courtesy of her creativity and presence of mind (things which had once made her ostracized).
The series beautifully depicts the struggles of starting life anew, especially for a person who has never known love and how delightful human relationships can become over time with trust and love.
The series is not heavily dependent on the novels, deviating from the books to shed light on many relevant issues like racism (by introducing a black character who isn't part of the books), discrimination, sexual understanding, LGBTQ+ representation among others which are important in today's era.
The performances by the lead cast, especially by Amybeth McNulty who plays Anne, are wonderful. The homely feel of the series is just one of its charming qualities.
No. of Seasons: 2 (Season 3 to be released in mid2019)6. Pride and Prejudice (1995):
Based on the eternal love story by Jane Austen featuring the perfect dreamboat for women since 1813, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy and the opinionated and intelligent Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the series is perhaps the best adaptation of the novel till date (Sorry Keira Knightley!).
Mrs Bennet's sole ambition in life is to see her five daughters happily married into rich households.
And she won't stop until she achieves that!
When Mr Bingley, the new bachelor in town sets up home in the Netherfield estate near the Bennet's neighbourhood, Mrs Bennet pushes her eldest daughter Jane towards the gentleman who is smitten by her.
Mr Bingley's friend, the mysterious and arrogant Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) takes an interest in the second daughter Elizabeth (Jennifer Ehle), but both seem to clash with respect to their ideals and their thinking, leading to verbal arguments and an intense dislike for each other. She thinks him to be too proud, he decrees her to be prejudiced.
An ongoing battle of wits, peppered with dislike masking their true feelings, this period drama is what a typical romance ought to be.
Andrew Davies' stellar screenplay (especially the iconic lake scene :P).
Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. The series propelled Colin Firth to superstardom and a yardstick with which future portrayals of Mr. Darcy(s) would be judged. No one has even come close to Colin's portrayal, making him the living embodiment of Mr. Darcy.
The intricately written episodes, with graceful and eloquent dramatization make the series a comforting safe haven in this ruthless world. :P
No. of Seasons: 1 (Six Episodes)
So, which one are you planning to watch?