I’ve heard tittering that Outlander season 3 is filming in late August. But, what can we watch until Jamie and Claire reenter our lives? Here’s a few fun shows you should give a try. Some are historical, others are fantasy, all are awesome.
The Pillars of the Earth
This show, which aired on Starz, is based on a book, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It’s much more historically based than some others on this list, taking place in England during the 12th century and involving the tumultuous events that surround the building of a cathedral. There’s love triangles, violence, a hint of superstition, and characters you can really sink your teeth into (hello, Eddie Redmayne!). You’ll cry along with Tom the Builder when he buries his wife, you’ll root for Jack when he fights to win the hand of the girl, and you’ll be sad when it finally ends.
Is any historical series complete without The Tudors? It’s centered around King Henry VIII’s search for a wife to give him an heir and, while it does exaggerate to make parts of the story more interesting, can be oddly educational. It also features an all-star cast with Johnathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry, Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Henry Cavill as the Duke of Suffolk, and Maria Doyle Kennedy as Catherine of Aragon, among many other famous faces. The costumes and acting are on point and, since it aired for four seasons on Showtime, so there’s plenty of episodes to binge watch.
The White Queen
The White Queen, by Philipa Gregory, is another lovely historical-based novel that was made into a series. It follows Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with two young sons, who seduced, and married, the young king Edward IV. She, along with the other women in her family, are known for harnessing the power of Melusina, a legendary mermaid, to bend their lives to their making. However, Elizabeth can only use her powers so much, as they often come back around, sometimes putting her own family at risk. She lives during the infamous War of the Roses (1455-11487) and her marriage to Edward sparks the famous Tudor line. The show, which aired on Starz, did an awesome job of bringing the book, and the history surrounding it, to life.
Call The Midwife
No, there aren’t any sword and knights in this television take on memoir Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth, but it deserves a place on the list as an awesome historical show. Set in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, it followed a group of midwives out of Nonnatus House in London’s poor East End. The women go through the many trials of their time giving a platform of conversation to things that aren’t widely talked about now, such as the practice of doctors leaving disabled newborns to die and how dangerous back-alley abortions could be. Homosexuality, rape, violence, and new medical practices are tucked away in the lives of the young women who are just trying to make the East End a better place. On BBC, it’s a heavy show, but deserves a shot as it warms your heart as much as it moves you.
This show, which is still on The CW is a very, very, fictionalized version of the early life of Mary, Queen of Scots. If you’re able to look past the incorrect historical facts and fanciful costumes, it’s a really fun show. You’ll see her life in France as the fiance of young Prince Francis, hear about how ladies of the court would take lovers, and watch as her heart is broken, as well as renewed as she fends off would-be assassins. Even as someone who loves themselves some true facts, I was able to see the show as a worthwhile fantasy series that is good for a binge session.
This Starz period drama is one hell of a crazy ride. It’s like if Pirates of the Caribbean took ‘Molly’ and became slightly more historically accurate. It follows the early years of Captain Jack Flint, who is a fictional pirate from Treasure Island, during the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ where gold was king and the laws were forged by blood. Mainly taking place on New Providence Island, one of the major shipping hubs of the 1700’s, fact meets fiction as some historical pirates try to lay claim to ships, sell their goods, and maintain control of the sea. The characters are complex and their story lines include a woman fighting for respect, the British fighting to retake the island, and men on the run, among numerous others. It’s currently setting up for season four, so there’s plenty of time to catch up.
Da Vinci’s Demons
This series is on the same vein as Reign; loosely historically-based, but awesome all the same. In the show, Leonardo Da Vinci works for the famous Medici family and uses his genius to try and help them gain total control of Renaissance Florence. This puts him at odds with the Catholic Church, as well as the Pazzi family, especially when he begins inventing things for the Borgias. It’s involved and can get a little fanciful at times, especially when Leonardo gets involved with a real-life cult known as the Sons of Mithras. The Starz show is over, but I hear there may be a mini series in the works.
Those are some of my top picks. So, tell me, what shows would you add to the list?