The TV industry loves revisiting the past and bringing to light various stories that are based on or inspired by real-life events. Historical fiction, as it’s more commonly known as, mixes some of the best elements of storytelling: costume or period pieces, ensemble casts in interlocking stories, portrayals of true events or people, all of which have the ability to send audiences back in time without them ever having to leave their couch.
Recently, the ever-expanding array of streaming platforms have seen the recent development of new series, like Hollywood and The Great, exploring life in the golden age of the movie industry and loosely accurate events of Empress Catherine the Great’s reign, respectively. With so many to choose from, ET has rounded up the best series — new and old — now streaming on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and more platforms.
After the success of Downton Abbey (see below), creator Julian Fellowes and producer Gareth Neame reunited to adapt Fellowes’ own novel about aspirations, lies and affairs of overlapping families living in Belgravia, the affluent district of London during the mid-1800s. Their stories begin at a now-infamous ball that took place two days before the Battle of Waterloo, where scandal unfolds. While darker than its predecessor, Neame says that the limited series still explores how class structure dictates and affects the daily lives of people at this time.
Creator Peter Morgan’s sprawling, award-winning drama recounts the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the events of her reign, starting with her unexpected path to the throne to her relationship with an ever-modernizing world and the scandals that followed certain family members. So far, Claire Foy and Olivia Colman have portrayed the matriarch with Imelda Staunton taking over the role for the final two seasons of the star-studded series.
Creator David Milch’s celebrated Western drama explores the many (real and fictional) lives of the lawless South Dakota camp in the 1870s over the course of three seasons and a follow-up film. Like any good story — and this is a really good story — Timothy Olyphant, who plays reluctant sheriff Seth Bullock, says “it makes you feel like you have a greater understanding of humanity.”