There’s nothing quite like a good historical drama now, is there? There used to be a time when the only way you could get this kind of entertainment of a high standard was on the silver screen. But in the past decade, television has gone through quite a revolution.
Whereas the biggest and best releases were generally reserved for cinema, the rise of streaming services has ushered in a golden age for the small screen.
Netflix’s unparalleled success has spawned rivals like Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. All these services now vie for control over subscribers, with each production house trying to get one up on its competitors by producing lavish series with stellar casts and stunning special effects.
The result is a vast array of brilliant historical shows that delve into all kinds of historical periods and cultures, reminding us of times long past, while also immersing us in the lives of the protagonists. So, if you feel like a trip to the past, be sure to check out the following shows.
Vikings have inspired all kinds of entertainment over the years. From films to video games and even video slots at the newest online casino. These games tend towards the same sorts of epic tropes that we’ve come to associate with Vikings, using “crusade”, “glory”, “fury” and “queen” in their names. These are certainly themes we see in arguably the most famous TV show on this subject.
Originally produced by the History Channel, Vikings arrived in 2013 at a time when the golden age of television was really kicking off. Although some would argue that its budget and scope are limited by today’s standards, the show was an absolute hit, generating a cult following and spawning a Netflix spin-off.
We follow the exploits of arguably the most famous Viking of all, Ragnar Lothbrok, as he journeys to England and begins his conquest of the island’s many kingdoms. It’s quite a gory, gruesome affair, but each episode had us hooked to our screen, wondering what comes next.
2. The Crown
Enter a world of royalty, sophistication and intrigue in Netflix’s The Crown. The series follows the life of Queen Elisabeth the Second, jumping through various periods of her life, with new casts of actors to play the familiar characters with each new season.
The writing is superb, the acting sublime and the cinematography breathtaking. It has managed to keep us tuning in for each new season, giving us a glimpse into the turbulent lives of the British monarchy.
We’ve already seen Elisabeth’s rise to the throne and her trials and tribulations in office, but the next few seasons promise to depict more recent events that many of you will most likely remember.
HBO’s Chernobyl follows the events that led to the destruction of the Ukrainian nuclear plant. It features an excellent cast of actors including Stellan Skarsgard, Jessie Buckley and Jared Harris who walk us through the famous ecological disaster.
Not only does Craig Mazin’s show lead us up to the horrific event, but it also shows us how the lives of the civilians were affected in the process.
A collaboration between HBO, BBC Two and Rai 2, Rome was the first big-budget historical epic that took the world by storm. The show introduced us to familiar characters like Caesar, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, as well as new faces like Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo.
It was an astounding success, even if the show had to be shut down after two seasons due to its unsustainable budget.
Viewers tend to have a preference of either fiction or non-fiction when they settle down on the sofa and tune in. But these top choices demonstrate a bridge between the two that can satisfy any discerning armchair critic. Which will you watch first?