Shows like Bridgerton to watch until season 2
Released last Christmas, Netflix’s Bridgerton was a massive social phenomenon, watched across North America by scores of people and discussed at length on social media and in the press. With a second season on the way, what other shows like Bridgerton are worth checking out?
The first season followed various families in Regency-era London in the 1800s. The well-to-do Bridgerton family seek to marry their daughters to maintain their social status. This leads to a lot of conflicts and scandals. The series is narrated by Lady Whistledown, a mysterious socialite who comments on today’s gossip in her widely read newsletter, entertaining her readers with the implicit threat that they might be her next target.
Read on for a list of shows like Bridgerton that you might enjoy while you wait for Netflix to release season two.
Bridgerton talks about how to behave in a polite society, and he gives a modern twist to period drama. In this way, Apple TV Plus’s Dickinson is a staple among shows like Bridgerton. Emily Dickinson’s fictional tale of adolescence is a terrific spectacle, with Hailee Steinfeld shining in the title role. While Bridgerton is set in England and Dickinson is a quintessentially American story, they both take place in the 1800s, with contemporary soundtracks and an emphasis on how young women are meant to behave. The biggest crossing point is Eloise Bridgerton, who like Emily Dickinson is keen to break free from the limitations placed on her as a young woman. Emily is a poet, but her father wishes to see her married rather than wasting his time and threatening his reputation with her artistic endeavors.
While there is no time travel in Bridgerton, it does bear some similarities to Starz fan-favorite historical romance, Outlander. When a WWII nurse finds herself transported to 1700s Scotland, she out of necessity marries a handsome Scottish Highlander. Their marriage of convenience soon gave way to genuine affection and, in particular, to a lascivious attraction. If Bridgerton’s steamy romance has left you wanting more, Outlander may be for you. The series is full of battles and swashbuckling, unlike Bridgerton. This means that you don’t have to worry about it being the same again.
The Great is a dark comedy about Catherine the Great’s beginnings as she acclimates to life in Russia with her new husband. Catherine has a hard time getting used to bizarre social conventions and the strict expectations placed on her. If you like Bridgerton’s historic pageantry – and the many attempts to sidestep social norms – then The Great is probably in your wheelhouse. Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult’s flawless performances make this viewing essential in its own right. But it’s especially worth a visit for anyone looking for shows like Bridgerton.
A bit grittier and riskier than Bridgerton, Harlots nonetheless feels the same genre with Netflix period drama. It deals with class divisions, social scandal and, yes, steamy sexual encounters. A woman who runs a brothel in 18th-century London decides to move to an upper-class part of the city in an effort to provide a better life for the sex workers she employs. This decision, however, puts her in conflict with a rival brothel lady already installed there. Of course, the two women have even bigger issues in the form of religious evangelists and ruthless cops. Where Bridgerton explores how young women can elevate themselves in society through marriage, Harlots examines the ways in which women can take control of their lives through sex work.
One of the most obvious benchmarks for Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown is the eponymous Gossip Girl from the iconic teen soap opera from the late 2000s. In Gossip Girl, a mysterious person posts gossip about her classmates at a school Manhattan preparatory. Students go about their social life never knowing when they might find themselves in Gossip Girl’s sights. Like Bridgerton, the show is narrated by mysterious gossip. And like Bridgerton, that narration is provided by an actress other than the agitator ultimately revealed. The series reboot in 2021 is less invested in protecting the identity of the titular Gossip Girl, but it also has similarities to Bridgerton if you want even more.
Based on the diaries of real landowner and industrialist Anne Lister, written in code, Gentleman Jack tells the story from his own perspective. Remarkably, Lister was a lesbian in England in the 1800s. This put her at odds with many moral crusaders at the time. It also meant that she could lead a free and fulfilling life without hiding who she really was. Like Bridgerton, Gentleman Jack takes a critical look at social norms and expectations, especially those imposed on women. It’s a celebration of living your own truth despite overwhelming pressures and an endless gossip mill.
From Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey (himself not a bad contender among shows like Bridgerton) comes Belgravia. The Epix mini-series follows high-society families in London’s upscale Belgravia district in 1841. It tells the story of the Trenchards, who, despite having high social status, hide a potentially ruinous secret. In 1815 in Brussels, on the eve of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, their daughter fell in love with a lord and sole heir to a fortune and a family estate. Years later, the child born of this illicit union and raised in an adoptive family could tip the balance of power and privilege. But not without a major scandal.
Bridgerton and Vanity Fair share more than just a lead actor in the form of Claudia Jessie. Based on the classic novel of the same name by William Makepeace Thackeray, Amazon’s Vanity Fair tells the story of Becky Sharp, an unemployed teacher who sets out to win over her friend’s wealthy brother. Just as Bridgerton offers ceremonies and rituals designed to marry young women and give them a chance to climb the social ladder, Vanity Fair explores the absurd efforts to be made for a better life in the early 1800s, just before the most restrictive and oppressive. Victorian era.