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One of the only downsides of binge-watching Netflix’s “Bridgerton” is that there are only eight episodes.
The period romance, based on the first of eight novels by Julia Quinn, proved an enjoyable escape for many, ever since it debuted on Christmas Day. Sexy, diverse, full of plot twists and gorgeous, early 19th-century costumes, “Bridgerton” is deliciously addictive. But there’s more from the genre to binge-watch after you finish the first season.
Other than the “Pride and Prejudice” adaptations you’ve seen before, plenty of series are set in Regency-era England, based on romance novels and featuring historical diversity. From a Jane Austen story you may never have heard of to another popular romance novel adapted into a hilarious sitcom with a “Bridgerton” star, these are the five best shows to binge-watch next.
More: Review: Netflix’s magnificent ‘Bridgerton’ glitters with period drama glory
Sidney Parker (Theo James) and Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) in “Sanditon.” (Photo: Simon Ridgway/PBS)
If only Regency-era English romance will do after your “Bridgerton” binge, look no further than this PBS drama, based on Austen’s last (and unfinished) novel. The drama has a level of sensuality and heat that’s often missing from other screen versions of the author’s work. With no ending to restrict him, creator Andrew Davies, who adapted the celebrated version of “Pride and Prejudice” starring Colin Firth in the 1990s, has the freedom to take twists and turns that satisfy our modern hunger for soapy drama. It also doesn’t hurt that stars Rose Williams and Theo James have plenty of chemistry.
Buy or stream it on Amazon with a Masterpiece subscription.
Suranne Jones as Anne Lister and Sophie Rundle as Ann Walker in “Gentleman Jack.” (Photo: HBO)
‘Gentleman Jack’ (2019)
“Bridgerton” is getting a lot of praise for its racial diversity, but it touches on LGBTQ issues only in a brief subplot. For those looking for queer historical romance, HBO’s “Jack” follows Anne Lister (Suranne Jones), an early-1800s British landowner who lived openly as a lesbian and married a woman. Jones is magnetic as Anne (the title is her nickname), a woman who bucks tradition and doesn’t care what others think. It leans more toward comedy than romance, but it still has plenty of juicy drama.
Stream it on HBO and HBO Max.
Stephanie Levi-John as Lina on “The Spanish Princess.” (Photo: Nick Briggs/Starz)
‘The Spanish Princess’ (2019)
The third installment in Starz’s lightly mystical historical miniseries, following “The White Queen” and “The White Princess,” “Spanish” focuses on Catherine of Aragon’s arrival in Tudor England as the fiancé of Prince Arthur (whose younger brother, Harry, would eventually go on to become King Henry VIII and also marry Catherine). The series is full of melodrama, romance and palace intrigue, and like “Bridgerton,” it deals with race – one major character is a Black noblewoman (Stephanie Levi-John), who arrives in England with Catherine. And unlike “Bridgerton,” which imagines what would have happened if people of color were elevated to nobility in the 1800s, “Princess” aims to highlight the actual Black nobility that has been whitewashed from history books.
Stream it on Starz.
‘Outlander’ (2014- )
If you’re looking for romance and steamy love scenes, and are OK with a little time travel, Starz’s cult drama has it all. The series is about a 1940s English nurse (Caitriona Balfe) who is accidentally transported back in time to 18th-century Scotland, where she falls for a handsome local (San Heughan). Although the plot and time-travel antics become more convoluted as the series goes on, the writers never lose track of the importance of the central love story.
Stream it on Starz and Netflix.
Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), Orla (Louisa Harland) and James (Dylan Llewellyn) in Season 2 of “Derry Girls.” (Photo: Netflix)
‘Derry Girls’ (2018- )
Set in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles” of the 1990s, the series follows a group of Catholic teens who struggle through the trials of adolescence against a backdrop of political unrest. “Derry” is worth watching for its outrageous and riotous comedy, and for sharing one of the best “Bridgerton” stars: Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington. The series is best enjoyed with subtitles, as the strong Northern Irish accents of the stars can be hard to parse.
Stream it on Netflix
More: Historical dramas finally show black and LGBTQ characters thrive. Here’s why that matters
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