The Best Period Drama TV Series Streaming on Netflix

If you love period drama, then you need Netflix. Sure, the streaming service have a solid collection of period films in its library, but where it really shines is in its collection of historical TV series. From widely praised originals like The Crown to foreign-language gems like Cable Girls, Netflix has got you covered whatever your favorite historical era.

‘Outlander’ 

Catriona Balfe
Catriona Balfe in Outlander | Starz

“Droughtlander” won’t end until 2020. In the meantime, fans of Starz’s steamy historical drama about a woman named Claire (Catriona Balfe) who’s transported from the 1940s to 18th century Scotland will have to content themselves with streaming seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix. 

‘The Crown’ 

This Netflix original about the life of Queen Elizabeth II has won rave reviews from critics. Seasons 1 and 2, which star Claire Foy as Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Philip, are currently streaming, and you’ll definitely want to catch up before the third season, when Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies take over the royal roles. Season 3 drops November 17. 

‘Cable Girls’ 

Just one of several Spanish period series on Netflix, Cable Girls is about four young women in 1920s Madrid who get jobs working for Spain’s National Telephone Company. Four seasons are currently streaming. 

‘Alias Grace’

Hulu has The Handmaid’s Tale, while Netflix has this six-part miniseries based on Margaret Atwood’s novel about Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), a real-life Candadian servant who was imprisoned for the 1843 murder of her employer and his housekeeper. A psychologist hired by some of Grace’s sympathizers interviews her, trying to piece together to real truth of her story in this subtle, engaging mystery. 

‘Call the Midwife’ 

Call the Midwife
Call the Midwife | Courtesy of Neal Street Productions

A group of midwives and Anglican nuns work in London’s poverty-stricken East End neighborhood in this 1950s-set BBC show that tackles weighty topics like abortion, thalidomide babies, and child abuse. All eight seasons are on Netflix. 

‘North and South’ 

A privileged young woman and a factory owner initially clash, then fall in love, in this four-part BBC drama set during England’s Industrial Revolution. Based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel of the same name, it’s like Jane Austen mixed with Charles Dickens, combining romance with some serious social commentary. 

‘Shaka Zulu’ 

Delve into African history in this 10-part South African series from 1986 about the conflict between Shaka, the leader of the Zulu nation, and the expanding British Empire. The New York Times called the show “enthralling” in its original review

‘Mr. Sunshine’

This Korean drama set in the late 19th century focuses on Eugene Cho (Lee Byung-hun), who grew up in the United States but returns to his native country as an adult, where he falls for a noblewoman Go Ae-shin (Kim Tae-ri). Mr. Sunshine is just one season long, but there are 24 episodes, some running more than 90 minutes, so there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

Mad Men’ 

Jon Hamm in Mad Men
Jon Hamm in Mad Men | AMC

If you love all things mid-century, then you’ll love Mad Men, AMC’s award-winning series about troubled New York ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his co-workers and family. All seven seasons are streaming on Netflix. 

‘Versailles’ 

This opulent French series set during the reign of Louis XIV (George Blagen) chronicles the construction of the famous palace of Versailles and the scandalous lives of the royals and nobles who lived there. All three seasons of the show — much of which was filmed on location at the actual palace — are streaming on Netflix.