- Period dramas on Amazon Prime offer viewers a form of escapism, allowing them to delve into different time periods and indulge in drama, history, and stunning production.
- Amazon Prime has a wide selection of period dramas to choose from, ranging from ancient Rome to the early 1900s and covering various themes, such as political intrigue and powerful women.
- These period dramas feature acclaimed performances from top actors like Julia Roberts, Samantha Morton, Emily Blunt, and Jacob Anderson, bringing these captivating stories to life.
Period dramas on Amazon Prime are a phenomenal form of escapism. This sub-genre of drama can harken back to any time period that viewers want. Whether fans are searching for drama, history, or just incredible production and costuming. There are some standout titles that fit the bill. These shows range from quiet romances to violent epics, from recent history to far in the past, but no matter the time period, Amazon Prime has the best of the best when it comes to period drama TV series available to stream now.
With one of the largest catalogs of movies and television series ever, Amazon Prime it is not surprising that the streaming service has so much to offer for the period drama genre. From Brittania‘s ancient Roman story and the Downton Abbey timeline in the early 1900s to A Very English Scandal’s political plot from the ’70s, there’s a period drama for everyone. As new series come and go from the streaming service constantly, here’s everything viewers need to know when it comes to which compelling period dramas are currently available to stream on Prime Video.
Period dramas have the luxury of diving into some interesting and perhaps overlooked aspects of history and the true story behind Gaslit is a fascinating one that not too many people know about. While the Watergate Scandal is one of the most infamous moments in American history, Martha Mitchell is not a figure often discussed in the many retellings of the story. Julia Roberts steps into this role in the exploration of Mitchell becoming outspoken on Richard Nixon’s involvement with the scandal despite being the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General. The show was praised as an exciting political thriller looking at people history forgot while commanded by Roberts’ powerful performance which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
The Serpent Queen (2022)
Many period dramas on Prime Video highlight the powerful women throughout history who made their mark with The Serpent Queen being one of the best of this kind. Oscar nominee Samantha Morton stars in the series as Catherine de’ Medici who was fourteen when she was married off to the French court with the expectation of being a dutiful wife and childbearer only to show an astute talent for political maneuvering which allows her to reign as Queen of France. With humor and intrigue, the series was hailed by critics as a thrilling look at one of the most famous monarchs in history while Morton’s towering performance elevates it all.
Hap And Leonard (2016-2018)
The combination of a crime story, a buddy story, and a period drama makes Hap & Leonard a unique mix. The series is based on the characters created by novelist Joe R. Lansdale and is set in the late 1980s following the down-on-his-luck ex-convict Hap Collins (James Purefoy) and his short-tempered Vietnam vet friend Leonard Pine (Michael K. Williams) as they find themselves mixed up in countless schemes and crime dangerous scenarios. The underrated series is worthwhile simply for the charming friendship of the main characters while also being an entertaining noir throwback.
The English (2022)
There are not too many Western television shows made these days which makes it all the more enjoyable when a good one comes along. Set in the 1890s, The English stars Emily Blunt as an English woman who comes over to the untamed American frontier to seek revenge on the man who killed her son while teaming up with an ex-military man (Chaske Spencer). The Western revenge story has been told many times, but the skill and visuals of the miniseries helped it to stand out while featuring two terrific lead performances from Spencer and Blunt, who received a SAG nomination for her performance.
Freaks And Geeks (1999)
While the 1980s might not seem like that long ago to some, it still plants Freaks and Geeks squarely in the genre of period dramas. The high school series follows a young woman who, following the death of her grandmother, begins to shift towards a darker sensibility and begins hanging out with a group of aimless misfits. There is plenty of comedy to go along with the show’s very grounded and realistic depictions of high school struggles. The series only lasted for one season, but the Freaks and Geeks cast is filled with future stars which has allowed it to grow a strong cult following over the years.
The horror anthology series The Terror takes a look at urban legends in the past, explored through the events of the time. The first and best season starred Jared Harris and Ciaran Hinds in the story of an 1840s expedition into the Arctic where the crew of the British ships were besieged by some deadly creature. Season 2 explores a ghost story set within Japanese internment camps in America during World War II. Horror fans will get plenty of scares and interesting explorations of myths and lore while the show itself is a lavish production with strong storytelling and thought-provoking themes.
Interview With A Vampire (2022-)
Anne Rice’s vampire novel was previously adapted into the 90s horror drama starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, but the Interview With a Vampire series proves that the story is worth expanding. The series has vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) recounting his relationship with Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), the vampire who turned him and then became his lover. The show’s willingness to embrace the queer elements of the story in a way the movie never did makes it the more interesting adaptation. It is a sexy and alluring twisted love story with compelling scripts and terrific performances from the two leads.
Howard’s End (2017)
The period dramas on Prime Video also allow for some stunning adaptations of classic novels as with Howard’s End. The series is based on the 1910 novel by E.M. Forster and tells the story of three separate English families, the wealthy Wilcoxes, the idealistic Schlegels, and the working-class Basts. Through these families, the series is a fascinating examination of the class divide that still holds resonance today. The series is a wonderful adaptation from Oscar-winner Kenneth Lonergan and features a superb cast, including Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen, and Joseph Quinn.
A League Of Their Own (2022)
While the 1993 movie is a favorite among sports movie fans, there are many who argue the television version of A League of Their Own handles the legacy better when it comes to the true story. Set during WWII, there series takes a look at the real-life all-female professional baseball league that emerged when the male players were fighting overseas. Along with the depiction of this fascinating time in sports history, the show also explores the injustice of the time concerned the LGBTQ community as well as Black female players. It is an exciting and fun-filled sports story that balances its dramatic aspects. Fans were understandably upset when the show was canceled after one season.
Another classic novel that is available on Prime Video in the form of a period drama is War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy. While the work can be a daunting book to add to a reading list, the four-part miniseries does the story justice with the aid of a great ensemble cast. The series takes place during the conflict between the Russian Empire and Napoleon’s army from France as it examines the Russian aristocrats grappling with the possibility of their lives changing drastically. The series features Lily James, Paul Dano, and Jessie Buckley among other notable actors in a lavish adaptation with beautiful production design.
Daisy Jones & The Six (2023)
One of the series that captured the hearts of fans in 2023 was Daisy Jones & the Six. Based on the best-selling novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, the drama takes place in the Los Angeles music scene of the 1970s and follows an up-and-coming rock band and the tension that arises due to affairs and broken hearts among the band members. The Daisy Jones & the Six songs have stood out but the series is so much more than that as it is a compelling, entertaining, and powerful look at this time in music history, drawing inspiration from real bands like Fleetwood Mac. The series was a critical hit as well as a favorite among audiences, earning Emmy nominations for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series as well as an acting nomination for Riley Keough for her breakout out role.
Black Sails (2014-2017)
Though not based on a novel itself, Black Sails is an exciting adventure and period drama set up as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The series is set in the 18th century during the Golden Age of Piracy, focusing on the crew serving under the feared Captain Flint. The swashbuckling fun of the series gives the show a fun energy while there are appearances from plenty of real-life pirates of history for anyone looking to explore that era more.
The Tudors (2007-2010)
Another infamous ruler of history is the subject of the historical drama The Tudors. Though named after the famous dynasty in England, the series actually revolves around King Henry VIII, looking at his reign in the 16th century. Jonathan Rhys Meyers gives a towering performance as the passionate and rageful king while the supporting cast is filled with future stars, from Henry Cavill to Natalie Dormer to Annabelle Wallis. While the show turned many complex historical moments into fodder for the sexy and dramatic storylines, it was an addictive and fun take on history.
A Very English Scandal (2018 – 2021)
A Very English Scandal takes place in the 1960s and 1970s in England. It is based on the real-life story and scandal of how politician Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant) was desperate to keep his affair with Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw) from the public. Things become more complicated as Thorpe continues to gain political power, and eventually, Thorpe and others are put on trial for conspiring to murder Scott to keep him quiet, making for a remarkably thrilling, and ultimately scandalous, piece of television.
Poldark (2015 – 2019)
Set in the late 1700s, Poldark took fans of period drama by storm. This series follows the titular character, back in Cornwall on the coast of England after his involvement in the American Revolutionary War. Audiences can expect intrigue, high drama, and of course, romance – all set against the stunning backdrop of Cornwall, with the kind of gorgeous costuming that any period fan will love.
Downton Abbey (2010 – 2015)
Undoubtedly, Downton Abbey’s Crawley family is practically synonymous with the period piece TV shows on Amazon Prime. Starting in the year 1912, Downton Abbey follows the fortunes of the aristocratic clan as they navigate the various social and political movements over the course of the next few decades. From the need for an heir to the major events of the time, Downton Abbey covers it all with stunning costumes and incredible wit. The series proved to be incredibly popular over the course of its run, leading to countless awards, including several Emmys for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, and two feature films being released in recent years.
Brittania (2018 – )
Brittania is a unique series that will appeal to fans of Rome and Vikings – particularly those who are looking for something a little more female-focused from the period dramas on Amazon Prime. Set in AD 43, the series focuses on the conflict between the Celts and the Romans. Featuring warrior women, Celtic Queens, and magical Druids, this is a series for anyone who wants well-written female leads and a little bit of fantasy along with their battles. Concluded in 2021, Brittania ran for three seasons, ending just a couple of years after the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD. Though the audience clamor for Brittania season 4 didn’t lead to a follow-up, the series remains a cornerstone not just for period pieces on Amazon Prime, but modern shows and movies about ancient Roman history.
The Durrells (2016 – 2019)
Based on the real-life memoirs of Gerald Durrell, The Durrells, sometimes known as The Durrells in Corfu, is a comedy-drama set in the 1930s. Somewhat similar to the story of the Duttons in Yellowstone prequel 1923, The Durrels follows the titular family as they move to Corfu in an effort to make better lives for themselves after the passing of their patriarch. However, The Durrells is actually a light-hearted drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously, making it stand out among other period pieces on Amazon Prime. The series proved to be popular among both critics and fans, enjoying a celebrated run until it came to an end in 2019.
Grantchester (2014 – )
Set in 1950s England, Grantchester is a popular detective drama following the exploits of several well-regarded sleuths in their hometown of Grantchester, Cambridgeshire. After establishing its place among the most-watched period pieces on Amazon Prime, Grantchester enjoyed several compelling leads during the course of its run, which currently consists of seven seasons, with an eighth on the way. A subversion of storytelling traditions established by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Grantchester is the perfect crossover for fans of both period dramas and mysteries, as it offers several intriguing capers set in mid-20th century England. With each respective season generally lasting only six episodes, the series is also a relatively easy binge-watch for fans looking to catch up quickly.
Vikings (2013 – 2020)
Possibly the most violent and brutal of the period dramas on Amazon Prime, Vikings is based on the heroic figure of Ragnar Lothbrok, who raided the lands of France and England and became a Viking legend. Though the series sometimes plays things fast and loose with its historical accuracy, it remains one of the most popular series from the History Channel. Get ready for a much more violent kind of intrigue, with romance balanced by epic battles and violent fight scenes. This is a longer series, though, so a binge-watch is definitely more of a commitment, with six seasons of heart-pounding action and drama, especially considering how Vikings is connected to Vikings: Valhalla.
For fans of period dramas on Amazon Prime, 2016’s The Collection is a terrific sneak peek into Paris’s post-World War II era of fashion. Following two brothers as they work to restore their nation’s former glory in the fashion scene, the series is an interesting look into the world’s recovery after one of the worst conflicts known to man. The Collection runs for a breezy eight episodes, each of which captures the look and feel of a post-World War II Paris. The miniseries is the perfect series for history buffs and those looking for something visually stunning.
Vanity Fair (2018)
Based on William Makepeace Thackery’s novel, Vanity Fair is a historical drama set in mid-19th century France. Starring Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon) as Becky Sharp, the series follows the Paris social scene in the 1840s as Sharp attempts to boost her social status by making friends in high places. Cooke delivers one of her finest performances in the role of Becky Sharp, standing on her own among the leagues of other talented actresses to have played the part. Similarly, 2018’s Vanity Fair keeps its wits about it, never losing track of its 21st-century audience amidst its 19th-century setting, uniting the two time periods nicely in its seven episodes.
Z: The Beginning Of Everything (2015 – 2017)
Z: The Beginning of Everything centers around the lives of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (Christina Ricci) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (David Hoplin) – who wrote The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Great Gatsby – before Fitzgerald rose to fame as a literary giant. In the 1920s, the couple lived as American socialites – with their decadent lifestyle revealing marital tensions between the two. After just one season, Z: The Beginning of Everything ended – but remains on the list of available period dramas on Amazon Prime. Yet, however short-lived it may be, the series’ fictionalized version of the Fitzgeralds remains an essential look into the writer’s legacy and New York high society and culture in the early 1900s.
Victoria (2016 – 2019)
Jenna Coleman stars as the titular era-defining 19th-century queen in Victoria. The first season covers 1837 to 1840 – from Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne at 18 years old until the birth of her eldest daughter. Season 2 (1840 to 1849) introduces international relations and crises such as the Great Famine in Ireland, and the third and last season (1849-1851) sees Victoria and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) raising six children amid political intrigues.
What differentiates Victoria from similar period dramas on Amazon Prime? Victoria focuses on the real queen who laid the social, political, and industrial groundwork for the UK’s 20th-century rise to empire. Historically, Queen Victoria passed the gene for hemophilia – “the royal disease” – across an entire generation of European monarchs, and also survived a confirmed eight assassination attempts. With the show ending 50 years before Victoria’s death, however, only three of these assassins can be seen in Amazon Prime’s Victoria.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017 – 2022)
For something a little more modern, audiences can take a stroll only a few decades back in time to New York in the 1960s. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is all about the incredible life of the titular character, a Jewish housewife who becomes a stand-up comedian. Throughout the entire The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel timeline, the titular Mrs. Maisel has always been the kind of woman who can only be described as irrepressible and, paired with her grumpy manager, this is a show filled with incredible jokes, incredible costumes, and characters that outshine both. Rachel Brosnahan won an Emmy and two consecutive Golden Globes for her lead performance while the show was one of the most celebrated comedies on television.