Discussion: My Favorite Historical TV Series


One of my favorite genres of television is historical fiction. I watch a lot of it, though I still have several series that I’ve yet to seen, but these are 7 of my favorites. They’re in no particular order.

  • Borgia: Faith and Fear – It took me 2 tries to watch Borgia: Faith and Fear. I had already watched The Borgias and the feel of the shows are so different that it took me 2 viewings of the pilot to get into it. By the time I finished the series, I ended up preferring Borgia: Faith and Fear in some ways. Once you get past some of the accents, it’s wonderful, and I feel it may be a closer representation of this historical period. (Don’t quote me on that because I’m still learning.) Mark Ryder as Cesare and Isolde Dychauk as Lucrezia are wonderful in their roles, and their acting gets even better throughout the series. The ending of this show is one I still think about occasionally. You can view the trailer here. It’s rated TV-MA and the trailer features some animal gore, nudity, and body horror.
  • The Borgias – Such a beautiful show! The sets and people are gorgeous, especially Holliday Granger as Lucrezia and Francios Arnaud as Cesare. The Borgias was released on Showtime several years ago and was cancelled before the writers were able to wrap up some of the storylines, so they released a movie-length script for it. I read it and ended up giving it 3 stars because I liked the way the show ended better, although it’s based on real lives, so that happens sometimes. I would have been better satisfied with a short epilogue if that had been possible. There are some accent issues here as well, but it’s not that hard to get over that once you’re into the show because it keeps your attention with all of its drama. Trailer #2 for season 1 is here.
  • The Tudors – The historical drama for cable, dramatic and sexy with some history turned on its head for fun. It’s one of the first ones that I watched and how I started to become obsessed with Tudor history. Again, beautiful people, outfits, and scenery. The music choices on this show are perfectly matched with the scenes and it includes some of my favorite musical moments from TV. Everyone on this show is an A+ actor and they all do wonderful things with their characters. Catherine of Aragon is one of my favorite historical figures to learn about because of this show. My main issue with it is that they don’t focus on her relationship with Henry VIII for very long despite how long they were married in real life. (Forever wanting a show about her.) Here’s a trailer for the season 1 DVD.
  • Call the Midwife – One of the last things I expected from this show is it being cute and sweet. It’s about midwives in the late 1950s/early 1960s in the East End of London. They show births and it’s still super heartwarming. It’s based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and, although I always end up sitting down and watching the episodes, it’s a nice show to watch while doing something else. It’s engaging but also an easy watch most episodes. There are some intense episodes and moments that hit you right in the heart, but it’s a lovely show. My favorite characters are Jenny and Trixie and Patsy. Every character is great and fleshed out throughout the seasons. I’ve had some issues with one relationship on this show in the past couple of seasons, but I still love it. Trailer is here.
  • Downton Abbey – Talk about drama! I am a huge Downton Abbey fan. My sister and I went to 3 or 4 premiere events at our local PBS station for it because we both enjoy it that much. The upstairs/downstairs aspect is interesting to me and I love the dynamics of all of the characters. My favorite will always be Sybil. The music also gets me every time I hear it, most notably that intro! Even the bell. You can view a short trailer here.
  • The Paradise – I knew nothing about The Paradise going in and it became one of my favorites so quickly. It’s about England’s first department store, mainly the women’s fashion department and the shopgirls, based on a book by Émile Zola. There are parts of the ending that could have been done better if there had been a 3rd season. It’s far too short. Still, there are some nice female characters and friendships in the show, and I was happily surprised by the main romance. By the end of the show, Clara was my favorite. Trailer is here.
  • Penny Dreadful – Here’s a show that got my attention because several of the characters are from Victorian gothic literature. It features Dorian Gray, Dr. Frankenstein, his monster, and others… The main character is played by Eva Green and she’s wonderful to watch. Vanessa is my favorite character. It’s not for the faint of heart as it is a horror show and was on Showtime. Even the 2 minute trailer has bugs and blood and sex and weird, weird, weird stuff. Oh, and it will break your heart several times over. You’ve been warned.

Currently, I’m planning on watching Reign soon. I watched the first season and a half and liked it in all of its teen drama goodness. Like these shows, it also has a wonderful cast.

Have you see any of these shows? I’d love to know what you think. Do you have any suggestions for historical dramas?


4 thoughts on “Discussion: My Favorite Historical TV Series

    • Yes, you should watch Downton Abbey if you get the chance. It’s the perfect example of historical drama, and I mean drama. So good. Thanks! I’m planning on starting again from the beginning and I’m looking forward to it.

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