10 top-rated period dramas you've probably never heard of
With the recent incredible popularity of Downton Abby and Call the Midwife, the period drama has seen a resurgence in popularity. There's just something about classic tales of romance, heartache, and friendship told in foreign settings and time periods that is appealing to our modern sentiments. With their strong characters, elaborate costumes, beautiful settings, and fascinating historical plots, here are the best period dramas of the past 5 years that most people have probably never seen.
1. Mr. Selfridge (PBS Masterpiece TV Mini-series 2013-)
Mr. Selfridge is based on the real-life story of the over-the-top American founder of a famous London department store. According to PBS, "At the unfashionable end of Oxford Street in 1909 London, an American retail tycoon arrives to jettison fusty British tradition and open one of the finest department stores the world has ever seen: Selfridges. Three-time Emmy® winner Jeremy Piven (in his first television appearance since his iconic role as Hollywood agent Ari Gold in Entourage) stars as Harry Gordon Selfridge, the flamboyant entrepreneur and showman seeking to provide London's shoppers with the ultimate merchandise and the ultimate thrill." With two series down and two series to go, it's not too late to jump in on this period show that fans rave about.
2. The Time in Between (Antena 3 TV Mini-series 2013)
Based on the New York Times Bestseller "The Time In Between" by María Dueñas, a young seamstress's life takes an unexpected turn when she finds herself pregnant, alone, and penniless during the Spanish Civil War. As Spain's alliance with Nazi Germany deepens, she takes on a new identity and becomes an in-demand haute couture stylist for the wives of Nazi officials. But soon she becomes swept up in political intrigue when she begins helping the British Secret Service with coded messages in the seams of her dresses. You're guaranteed to be sucked in and pressing the "next episode" button for all 17 episodes of The Time in Between.
3. The White Queen (BBC One TV Mini-series 2013)
The White Queen is a ten part British historical drama series based on Philippa Gregory's The Cousins' War. The story focuses on three women, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville, who vie for power during the War of the Roses in 1464 England. For it's incredible acting, costumes, and music, the show was nominated for 3 Golden Globes.
4. The Princess's Man (KBS Mini-series 2011)
Princess Se Ryung is the fearless and strong-willed daughter of Grand Prince Su Yang. Seung Yoo is a noble "old soul" who captures her heart. The only problem is that their fathers are powerful rivals, and both will stop at nothing to defeat the other and ascend the throne. Featuring breathtaking cinematography and gorgeous locations, The Princess's Man is a lush historical romance is widely loved, and will capture your heart. This epic Romeo and Juliet-style romance features Moon Chae Won (Shining Inheritance) and Park Shi Hoo (Iljimae) as the star-crossed lovers.
5. Ripper Street (BBC American TV Mini-series 2012-)
This historical crime drama follows the Police Precinct charged with keeping order on the dirty streets of late Victorian London’s Whitechapel district. The eight-part second season recently aired on BBC AMERICA. The series is violent and vivid as it depicts the lives of those who struggle to bring order to London as it approaches the turn of the 20th Century.
6. Upstairs Downstairs (BBC One TV series 2010)
A follow up to the classic original series, the new Upstairs Downstairs follows Sir Hallam Holland, a young diplomat, and his wife, Lady Agnes, as they renovate the old townhouse in January of 1936. They hire the former parlourmaid, Rose Buck, to staff their home as they restore it to its former glory. A whole cast of outlandish cast of characters join the mystery and intrigue as they overcome obstacles of race and class to pull together.
7. Prince of Lan Ling (JSTV TV Mini-series 2013)
An epic romance between a celebrated prince known for his victories on the battlefield and the priestess who tries to protect him from his tragic future, Prince of Lan Ling tells the tale of a celebrated hero of ancient China—one recorded to have met an untimely fate in his prime. In this vibrant adaptation, Yang Xue Wu (Ariel Lin), the only remaining priestess of her clan, foresees a tragic fate for the chivalrous Lan Ling Wang (Feng Shao Feng), but nonetheless falls for him as the two become embroiled in a war against the Northern Zhou faction, led by Emperor Yuwen Yong (Daniel Chan). As Xue Wu grows closer to Prince Lan Ling, she unwittingly fulfills a foretold prophecy that victory goes to he who possesses the priestess’ blessing. But victory has its price in the spoils of love and war, and it’s Lan Ling’s head. Can Xue Wu protect her one true leader—and her one true love?
8. Sungkyunkwan Scandal (KBS Tv Mini-series 2010)
Set in the famous Sungkyunkwan university, a 500-year-old Korean establishment that exists to this day, Sungkyunkwan Scandal is the story of Kim Yoon Hee, a brilliant young woman who strives to be a student at a time when women are not allowed to attend the university. Supporting her family by doing odd jobs at a bookstore, she grows increasingly desperate at the hands of her family's debt. When her younger brother falls ill, she winds up entering Sungkyunkwan University disguised as a boy. Even though she'll certainly be beheaded if her true identity is discovered, Yoon Hee will do anything to help her brother. In school, she falls in love with Lee Sun Joon, the brilliant son of the Prime Minister. She is also befriended by Goo Yong Ha, a wealthy playboy, and street ruffian Moon Jae Shin. With all-male roommates, Yoon Hee will have to keep her wits about her so she is not found out in this fascinating look into Korea's most prestigious university.
9. The Paradise (BBC One TV Mini-series 2013-)
An adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Au Bonheur Des Dames, The Paradise is an intoxicating story of love and lust in England's first department store in the 1870s. Denise is an ambitious, yet innocent, young woman when she appears at the doors of The Paradise, but soon she is embroiled with passion for the store's play boy owner Moray. Can she wade through the perils of loving a taken man while making her career ambitions come to fruition?
Immerse yourself in the royal court of 15th-century Spain, ruled by greed, lust, lies, and, above all, an insatiable hunger for power. When Seville is left without a direct heir to the throne, Princess Isabel (Michelle Jenner) and Prince Alfonso are cut off from their mother and forced to live in the royal court amongst strangers. With the end of her childhood, Isabel proves to be a formidable young woman as she takes charge in choosing her own husband and fends off conspiracies against her to become Queen of Castile. Full of amazing sets, costumes, and acting, this critically acclaimed period drama was a hit in Spain.
If you've been looking for shows to fill your need for period dramas, now you have 10 highly recommended ones to add to your list. Have you seen any of them? What other period dramas do you reccomend? Comment below!