The Best Shows to Watch After You’ve Finished Bridgerton

by Emily Maskell

Images courtesy of AppleTV+, HBO, and Hulu. GIF by Ashley Peña

The horses and carriages have returned to the ton for another titillating season of Regency-era balls, gowns, and promenades, this time with Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) at the fore. While the first chapter focused on the eldest sister, Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), and the second season chronicled the eldest brother, Viscount Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), the Netflix show’s third season turns its attention to the romantic pursuits of Penelope, aka Lady Whistledown and her friend-turned-lover Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton).

The long-simmering romantic tension between this pair (dubbed Polin by fans) finally gets its due in Bridgerton’s third season—so much so that it’s premiering in two parts (part one dropped on Netflix on May 16th, and part two premieres on June 13th). In the meantime, you may be craving more scandalous and swoony historical dramas. Luckily, there are many such TV shows to fill the Bridgerton void. These affecting series chronicle sweeping romances with the typical genre rhythms—including unspoken desire, regal costumes, and historically correct society settings (with a few anachronistic flourishes, depending on the show).

Below, find the best romantic historical dramas that have reinvigorated the genre to watch after your Bridgerton binge:

The Buccaneers (2023)

Where to stream: Apple TV+

Alisha Boe, Josie Totah, Kristine Froseth, Aubri Ibrag and Imogen Waterhouse in The Buccaneers

Apple TV+

British comedian and Buccaneers creator Katherine Jakeways adapts the incomplete, posthumously published Edith Wharton novel by the same name with this historical drama series. Set in the 1870s, The Buccaneers follows five young wealthy American women descending upon London with one goal: to snag a British aristocrat. With their untamed ways and less-than-posh manners, the women’s induction into the high-class governess world is shocking, to say the least. Their bold personalities and disruptive attitudes uproot the debutante season’s strict social codes as they rifle through potential suitors.

The Gilded Age (2022-present)

Where to stream: MAX

Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon in The Gilded Age

Barbara Nitke/HBO

Many of these twisty period dramas follow an outsider broaching upper-class life, and The Gilded Age is no different. Set in 1882 New York City amidst turbulent social structure, the show follows a young woman (played by the Emmy-winning, Tony-nominated Carrie Coon) as she navigates the Russell family’s new money, the van Rhijn-Brook family’s old wealth, and the conflicts faced by the African American upper class. From her perspective, we see this rarefied world through the eyes of someone who feels as though they don’t wholeheartedly belong.

The Great (2020-present)

Where to stream: Hulu

The Great is a loose interpretation of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia’s (Elle Fanning) history and marriage to Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) as she plots to murder her corrupt, man-child husband. The alternative historical and satirical comedy-drama follows Catherine as she outwits her husband in a bid for the crown, as she must eventually choose between her peace and the future of Russia. The 18th-century show is packed full of unexpected vulgarity, aggressive grotesqueness, and ludicrous absurdity. With a female monarch at the helm, the anachronistic show shakes up the usually dignified atmosphere of the era.

Elle Fanning in The Great

Christopher Raphael/Hulu

Gentleman Jack (2019-2022)

Where to stream: MAX

Across just two seasons, Gentleman Jack won the hearts of viewers across the globe with the dramatized story of the real-life Anne Lister (Suranne Jones), a famous diarist, highly educated woman, and the “U.K.’s first modern lesbian.” Set in Yorkshire in the 1830s, Anne sets out to restore the estate she inherited from her uncle. Androgynous in appearance and unusual for her status as a lady landowner, Anne is a woman who operates outside of the feminine norm in a way that is provocative for her neighboring locals. Gentleman Jack departs from typical period piece fare by foregrounding queerness.

Suranne Jones and Stephanie Hyam in Gentleman Jack

James Stack/HBO

Dickinson (2019-2021)

Where to stream: Apple TV+

Dickinson also brings a lesbian slant to the period genre with its plot centering on poet Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) falling for her best friend, Sue Gilbert (Ella Hunt), who also happens to be her brother's fiancée. The show explores Emily’s frustrated navigation of gender roles and sexual identity as her parents attempt to set her up with a male suitor, much to her disgust. Emily’s only escape is time with Sue and honest self-expression through her writing. This tale may be set in the 19th century, but it’s pulled into a modern context as the unearthed history utilizes modern language and a contemporary soundtrack to tell a fresh story.

Hailee Steinfeld and Zosia Mamet in Dickinson

Apple TV+

Vanity Fair (2018)

Where to stream: Prime Video

The Vanity Fair mini-series follows the ambitious, poverty-stricken Becky Sharp (Olivia Cooke) as she does everything she can to leave behind rural society. A lively adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's classic 1848 novel of the same name, Vanity Fair sees Becky’s rise to the heights of English society punctuated with catchy pop music and plucky spirit. Becky is a prolific scammer (born today, she’d have a Netflix doc about her hijinks), able to manipulate her image over years of social climbing against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars.

Olivia Cooke in Vanity Fair


Harlots (2017-2019)

Where to stream: Hulu

The elegant world of the upper class is closely associated with the period genre, so a brothel in 18th-century London catering to the wealthy and influential is an unconventional setting. Still, scrappy madam Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) is the driving force of Harlots as she navigates Soho’s rich clientele, business competition, religious evangelists, and a new morality on the rise that threatens her economic advancement in a patriarchal world. In Harlots, Margaret forges on with determination as she balances the world of sex work alongside the demands of her family, all in the hope of making the lives of her daughters better.

Liv Tyler in Harlots

Liam Daniel/Hulu

Victoria (2016-2019)

Where to stream: Prime Video

Over three seasons, the PBS Masterpiece series Victoria portrays the reign of Queen Alexandrina Victoria (Jenna Coleman) as the young monarch got married, ascended to the British throne, and prepared her firstborn to be her successor. The show follows the Queen’s life as she lusts after her favorite confidant, Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell), while satiating her equally hungry desire for royal power. Victoria blends lush costumes with pulpy melodrama to paint a regal but scandal-ridden portrait of the English monarchy.

Tom Hughes and Jenna Coleman in Victoria