7 Period Dramas to Watch During Quarantine
In a world that's gone topsy-turvy with the onslaught of COVID-19, most of us are currently self-quarantined or in lockdown-mode. Our hearts go out to all who are suffering through this deadly pandemic, and our unflinching admiration and thanks go to all the healthcare workers who are standing by at the darkest hour, and to the many whose services we now heavily rely upon, from farmers to postal delivery workers, and all in between.
Just weeks ago, most of us didn't have time for family activities, hobbies, self-reflection, or down-time from work. Now we're in abundance! If you're like me, perhaps you've spent some of this newfound time watching the best period dramas your streaming service has to offer, in which case this quarantine has been full of Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy in a wet-white-shirt™ and frequent exclamations of "Have you no compassion on my poor nerves!!"
So, I thought it would come in handy to compile a list of 7 utterly fantastic period dramas you should definitely be watching during lockdown. Not a conclusive list, and certainly not a complete one, so if you've any recommendations to add, do drop a comment below! These are just a few of my own especial favorites. :)
1. Little Women (2019)
I adored Greta Gerwig's recent film adaptation, which beautifully honors both the classic book and Louisa May Alcott's legacy. With superb casting throughout (Saoirse Ronan's Jo in the forefront), stunning sets and Oscar-winning costume design, it's the kind of adaptation that is actually too beautiful to look at without shedding a tear or two. If you're a faithful fan of the book, you'll smile through the whole run-time just to recognize the direct-from-the-text quotations given breathtaking new life. It's my favorite Little Women adaptation yet, and the first one to give each character time to develop and grow, rather than only focusing on Jo's journey. Amy and Laurie's relationship is given the light it deserves, as well as Jo and Professor Bhaer's. All in all, it's heartachingly beautiful.
2. BBC's Pride and Prejudice (1995)
The definitive P&P ...in fact, it's the only one that matters. Wholly faithful to Jane Austen's beloved text, perfectly cast, gloriously costumed and composed, this is Pride & Prejudice for the ages. Six hours of sheer bliss, the mini-series will shake away your prior love of the 2005 film for good. There's no going back once you've seen Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth Bennett with Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy, whose shared onscreen presence is truly electrifying. Despite its length, you'll find yourself rewatching this one a lot--until you're quoting it on the daily. This is Austen's work as it was meant to be seen, unfailingly accurate both to the book and to the period in which it's set.
Oh, yeah, and there's something more to tempt you. 3 words: the lake scene.
3. Poldark (2015-2019)
I've heard it described as "swashbuckling Jane Austen," but I think Poldark belongs in its own category. From the windswept Cornish seascape to London's Parliamentary society, Aidan Turner's Ross Poldark journeys through five seasons of compelling drama and romance. Here's the thing with Poldark...it's really good. So good, you'll think of nothing else for a while. It's the kind of all-consuming series you need to distract you from a pandemic. Follow and fall in love with Ross and his (incredible) wife Demelza from the 1780s to the turn of the 19th Century, along with the Enyses, the Carnes, and the villainous Warleggans.
At its heart, Poldark is a show about life, love and hardship, both at its best and its worst. It can break your heart and mend it at once. For more, I recommend the equally fabulous Poldark books by Winston Graham, from which the show is pretty faithfully based on.
4. Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Ah, one of my all-time favorite Austen adaptations. Sense and Sensibility (both the book and the film) fill my heart with such anxiety for a good chunk of the story, no matter how many times I read/watch it. Every time, I become fixedly absorbed with the Dashwoods and the fact that it must turn out right in the end, it must, it must! This movie is full of good things: faithful screenplay, beautiful sets and costume design, an overall excellent cast, but the true gem is without a doubt Emma Thompson's performance as Eleanor Dashwood. Paired with Hugh Grant (in the only role I love him in) as shy, bumbling Edward Ferrars, the two are sheer bliss to watch on-screen.
5. Victoria (2015-)
Sumptuously decorated with stunning costumes, hairstyling, sets and production design, Victoria is a lavish feast for the eyes. I personally recommend the first season, which is nothing short of outstanding, though I found the following seasons disappointing. Following the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, the series explores historical events that need no dramatization, and lovingly travels through the young monarch's relationship to beloved mentor, Lord M, and early relationship with Prince Albert. Exceptional performances, particularly from Jenna Coleman, Tom Hughes, and Rufus Sewell, coupled with spectacular production design make Victoria one not to be missed. If you do stumble against the second and third seasons, the costumes alone may make it worth your while to keep watching.
6. Howards End (2018)
Based on the novel by E.M. Forster, this gorgeous, perfectly cast and costumed adaptation leaves little wanting. Following Margaret and Helen Schlegel and their relationship with the Basts and Wilcoxes, to the house that brings them all together, Howards End is one you'll think about for weeks on end after you've finished the 4-part mini-series. Underlying the story is a sociopolitical narrative that delivers as sharp and relevant an awakening today as it did in 1910 when the book was originally published. Hayley Atwell leads with a strong performance, per her usual, and Alex Lawther delivers an unexpected treat in the minor role of Tibby Schlegel.
7. Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)
We ought to have at least one bio-pic in this list, and this one's by far my favorite. A.A. Milne is given light as never before in this telling of the author's life and the story behind Winnie-the-Pooh, from suffering PTSD in the aftermath of WW1, his struggling relationship with his son, and the outcome of his works' unexpected success on his entire family. This isn't Disney's Christopher Robin, so you mustn't go into this expecting honey-loving bears and talking animals. It's a sad, melancholy film, but heartfelt and true, without stooping to a rose-tinted outlook on the beloved author's life. It's beautiful and heartwrenching, and one of my favorite period dramas to date.
Which of these period dramas have you been watching? Do leave a comment below if you have a list of your own that's kept you sane through self-quarantine, or if you've anything to add! Keep on eye on the blog this week, as I'll be posting again tomorrow with something special.
Stay safe and healthy in these troubled times.