In recent months, I have become conscious of an emerging pattern in terms of TV shows. Period dramas are taking over TV in every direction! A period drama is a television show that is set during a specific historical era and uses time-appropriate sets, costumes, and props. Period dramas are, of course, nothing new; the subgenre has been there for a long time. However, there has been a perceptible increase in period dramas aimed at young audiences.
People watch historical dramas for a variety of reasons, including a sense of history, the attire and manners of a medieval society, which they may feel were either superior to or more romantic than our way of life now. Many historical dramas center on the lifestyles of the wealthy, who reside in fortresses, attend balls and other lavish events, and swan around in stunning gowns frequently by candlelight, which gives everything a warm, romantic shine. Some people find period dramas enjoyable because they lack the profanity, violence, explosions, and protracted action sequences that characterize so many modern dramas.
Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, says that period dramas are about people and their human connections, from love stories to comrades in arms. They allow us to experience extremes of emotion without the existential threat. “These [period] stories are like a flight simulator for life,” she says. “They show us ways of being through universal themes of love, betrayal, redemption, innocence, justice, sacrifice, and transformation.” Dramas set in the past frequently emphasize its beauties rather than its challenges. It’s not necessary for the past to appear as complex as the present when it’s created, as is the case with historical dramas. We can read about the past or see it on television, but we never have to actually go through the complicated and challenging times. Given how challenging their lives already are, this acts as a reassurance to the viewers and keeps them hooked.
Here are few of the most popular period dramas streaming on the OTT platforms that you can binge, and delve into this world of manicured lawns, pretty hats, and fancy carriages.
1. Downton Abbey: Downton Abbey, one of the most popular period dramas of all time, has been a huge success in both the UK and the US. The series, which first launched in 2010, follows the aristocratic lives of the Crawley family between 1912 and 1926. Till date, it’s the most watched television show on both ITV and PBS, and it subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since the 1981 television series of Brideshead Revisited. The plot involves Robert Crawley, who risks losing the family estate after his heirs die on the Titanic. Soon, the Crawleys are introduced to Matthew, the next heir in line, who resists the aristocratic way of life.
2. Bridgeton: Bridgerton is an American historical-romance television series based on Julia Quinn’s novels. It is created by Chris Van Dusen and is Shondaland’s first scripted show for Netflix. It revolves around the eponymous Bridgerton family and is set in the competitive world of Regency era London’s during the social season where marriageable youth of nobility and gentry are launched into society. Season one of the series made history on the streaming platform with 82 million viewers worldwide, proving that period dramas are firmly back on trend.
3. The Spanish Princess : Henry VIII is renowned as the king who alienated the Catholic Church and changed the course of history by taking six wives. In The Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope), who was originally sent to England from Spain to wed the infamous monarch’s elder brother, Arthur, offers a profoundly different perspective on the renowned ruler.
4. The Crown : Even the fiercest opponents of the monarchy and critics of historical dramas have become fans of The Crown. In order to provide insights into the inner dynamics and operations of the British royal family, the programme centers on Queen Elizabeth II and follows her life from an early age to more recent times. It has won praise for its acting performances, cinematography, and compelling narrative.
5. Anne with an E : An adaptation of the classic novel Anne of the Green Gables, revolves around a young orphaned girl who, after an abusive childhood spent in orphanages and the homes of strangers, is mistakenly sent to live with an elderly spinster and her aging brother.
Productions set in the past offer spectators a variety of experiences, including contemporary personalities, compelling historical figures, and renowned literary works based on real and imagined events. Regardless of the source of the story, audiences enjoy spending several hours with the characters to learn more about their storylines as well as for entertainment value. Audiences are transported to a different age by the overall style, ornate clothing, and stunning sets, which draw us deeply into the world we are seeing on television.
Mariam Tuba is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Shoa Falak