10 Top Costume Dramas: Part I

It is a great time to be a fan of costume dramas. There are new ones currently airing and older ones available for new audiences to enjoy, thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

What makes a costume drama exceptional? Gorgeous costumes, grand romance, and powerful performances are just a few of the attributes that go into making you grateful for having watched one. In no particular order, this is Part 1 of a list filled with 10 outstanding costume dramas. You can read Part II by clicking here.

#1: “The Last Kingdom”

The first season was good. The second season was great. “The Last Kingdom” entertains with a steady stream of swashbuckling action and major drama. Set before England united, Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) was born a Saxon and raised as a Dane. While his connections to both worlds pull him in different directions, he has his eyes firmly focused on one – regaining his inheritance.

Season 2 introduces “Reign” actor Toby Regbo in a role that had never been adequately filled before on the series -- a villain, and Regbo plays a great one. “The Last Kingdom” is currently streaming on Netflix.

[Image by HBO]

#2: “Game of Thrones”

HBO’s pop culture phenomenon has become one for good reason. There are few other series, you can spend hours upon hours philosophizing and theorizing about.

Game of Thrones” is epic for many reasons. It is sumptuously scored, filmed, acted, written, and directed. It is also bold and brave enough to leave fans profoundly outraged because they care so deeply about the rich landscape of characters it has brought to life with deft profundity. 

When “Game of Thrones” leaves the airwaves it will have unraveled on-screen for nearly a decade. In that time it has frustrated, shocked, saddened, and utterly captivated the world. When it ends, there’s no denying the small screen will dim. Seasons 1 - 7 are currently streaming on HBO GO.

#3: “Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great”

How did a princess from another land, come to rule the one she was a part of through marriage? To say it's a fascinating story would be an understatement. 

Ekaterina (Marina Aleksandrova) is a complicated young woman, bound to a man who refuses to love her and chained to a world she is unfamiliar with.

Throughout Season 1, Marina Aleksandrova perfectly conveys Ekaterina's evolution from an idealistic girl to a fierce and savvy young woman, turned Empress. “Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great” is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

[Image by BBC One/Starz]

#4: “The White Queen”

Sexy, ferocious, and riveting, this Starz/BBC miniseries has it all. Seduction, ambition, and power plays take center stage as three women harness their individual prowess to secure their family's relationship with the throne. As the miniseries powerfully portrays, the Wars of the Roses were anything but rosy.

While the three women each rely on their unique gifts to get what they want, one of them has a secret weapon. Elizabeth Woodville's partner-in-plotting is her mother, the regal Jacquetta (Janet McTeer), and the duo's strong bond is what helps make this show so special.

Rebecca Ferguson's star shines bright as the eponymous queen, who goes from being a widow on the losing side to the wife of the king. As Elizabeth Woodville, Ferguson portrays Elizabeth's wide-ranging identity as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and queen.

Also impressive is Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabel Neville, one of the Kingmaker's daughters, and Aneurin Barnard, who gives a memorable and sympathetic turn as the oft-villainized Richard III. "The White Queen" is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

#5: “The Crown”

Netflix’s epic drama series depicts the early years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. While “The Crown” shows off the decadent majesty its protagonists enjoy, it also draws a dreary picture of its downsides, amid relatable family drama.

Thanks to standout performances by Claire Foy (Elizabeth), Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret), and John Lithgow (Winston Churchill) in Season 1, “The Crown” rules. The series is currently streaming on Netflix.

[Featured Image by HBO/Starz/BBC]