Nothing radiates pure zen and provides the perfect slice of exquisite escapist viewing quite like a nostalgic period drama or film. The costumes, the regal residences, the elocution darling and the swoon-worthy ballroom dances do something to our skinny-jean wearing, cry face emoji souls and now a certain duke’s on the scene, well we’re all gladly deceased.
The costumes, the regal residences, the elocution darling and the swoon-worthy ballroom dances do something to our skinny-jean wearing, cry face emoji souls and now a certain duke’s on the scene, well we’re all gladly deceased.
Hearing the Downton Abbey soundtrack float down the hallway after a stressful day getting interrupted on Zoom is enough to lift us out of whatever cantankerous meltdown we were teetering on the edge of next, and just one pluck of a pop cover from Bridgerton’s string quartet is enough to leave us horny for a good spooning. We don’t have the answers but we do know that we’re forever in Shonda Rhimes’ debt. As the 82 million households that tuned into Bridgerton would suggest, the thirst for period drama is alive and well but with so many strapping suitors and slow-burning romances to get through, how can you possibly know which bygone era or Regency romp to binge first?
Enter us. These are the period dramas we would snog, marry and respectfully decline an invite to ever watch again.
Snog – Little Women (2019)
I absolutely loved the latest Little Women with all of my heart. I adore the story anyway but the way Greta Gerwig told the story through flashbacks whilst honouring the true life of Louisa May Alcott is something I would snog ALL night long baby. The casting, the costumes, the sets, it’s all just a wonderful portrayal of life in the late 1800s and it even weaves in modern feminism. The reason this is a snog for me is that I can only watch and enjoy it once every few months so I don’t get sick of it.
Marry – The Crown
I’m such a big advocate for The Crown, I love how every episode is its own story with a beginning middle and an end which makes it so satisfying to watch, especially compared to most series where you’re constantly left with a cliff hanger. On the first watch, I always end up googling the ‘incident’ the episode cover and I’ve learnt a lot of British history through the show.
The costumes and sets are divine, maybe I just want to live in a different era!Danielle
Every time they change the cast it takes a little bit to warm up to the new actors whilst missing the old ones but I always end up falling in love with them all, I think this keeps it fresh and of course, gives them the ability to move through generations. Again like most period media the costumes and sets are divine, maybe I just want to live in a different era!
Avoid – Victoria
I found an avoid for this really hard because most things I’ve settled down to watch I’ve loved, even those super long draw out old series you got free with the paper (possibly showing my age here). One I’ve never really been bothered to give a proper go is Victoria, I seem to remember popping it on whenever it as on TV and everyone seemed a bit too demure without much action. I think I prefer big-budget period pieces to a Sunday night BBC/ITV series, but I’m sure if I gave Victoria a go now in my current state of lockdown boredom I’d probably love it!
Snog – Downton Abbey
Downton is the on-screen comfort food I can’t and won’t stop scoffing. If I can’t find anything new to watch, you bet my thumb is there hovering over The Crawleys before you can say back off O’Brien. From the Dowager’s sharp-tongued one-liners and the stately interiors to the awkward glances amongst exquisite tablescapes, great dogs and well, the one and only Matthew Crawley, it was the golden era of tv and one I like to relive on a bi-weekly basis.
Marry – Duh, it’s gotta be the one where I ran away with the spoon, aka BRIDGER-FUCKING-TON.
I’ve been waxing lyrical about this Regency horn since Christmas Day 2020 to anyone who will listen and even those who won’t. People can cross the street to avoid me all they like, I’ll still be there stroking my own satin glove and muttering something about a ladder.
It’s got the hot sex, artist orgies and tree shags.Lareese
It’s got the hot sex, artist orgies and tree shags, it’s got the romance and the modern-cum-classical bops, it’s got the dresses and the superior cutlery, what more can we viewers want? In short dear reader, it’s a diamond of the first water and as soon as season 2 drops, I’m gonna need a good fortnight off work to recover.
Avoid – The English Game
As a period drama hussy, I too am shocked that I could come up with one to swerve. From the creator of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, The English Game had all the ingredients of a great period drama but a group of 19th-century footballers were no match for a Duke you could eat with a spoon. I begrudgingly stuck with it for 10 minutes before turning it off and watching The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society instead (mostly a mix of the sparkling Lily James tapping away at a typewriter in the aftermath of WWII, a literary club, scenic views and a dishy pig farmer. Thoroughly recommend).
Now I’m practically exiling myself from Team Zoella in saying this but I just don’t think I’m a period drama kinda girl. I love books set during the war but when it comes to my viewing I can’t say I’m drawn in by the royals and riches. My snog, marry, avoid is therefore written from the perspective of a period drama newbie, sharing the little scraps of tales I’ve briefly come across and my perspective as a bit of an outsider to this world. I think I need a week of intensive Netflix watching!
Snog – Atonement
Now I’m cheating slightly here as I’ve only read the book and not seen the film adaptation but Atonement is one of my all-time favourite reads and I can’t bring myself to ruin it if the film doesn’t live up to the book. I love Ian McEwan’s writing style and the emotional investment of this tale had me gripped throughout. It is devastatingly sad but I think because I invest so much emotionally into characters and storylines that feeling sad is part of its appeal- I’m not sure this is normal haha, but I’m a sucker for a sad love story and this totally encapsulates that feeling.
Marry – Titanic
This is possibly the only film I’ve seen that could somewhat fit into the period-drama genre, and that is the one and only, Titanic. When I love something I love it a LOT and when I tell you I could practically recite the script of this movie that is no exaggeration.
I love the contrast and intricacies of the upper and lower classes in every aspect of the film and find it so fascinating during a time that really wasn’t all that long ago.
I went through a very intense Leonardo DiCaprio stage (still in it tbh) and the combo of his dreaminess and the angel that is Kate Winslet and her quite frankly iconic outfits means I’ve watched this film countless times. I love the contrast and intricacies of the upper and lower classes in every aspect of the film and find it so fascinating during a time that really wasn’t all that long ago. Yes it’s a long one but I don’t feel like it ever drags because I am frankly so invested in their love story and always desperately hoping for a happier ending. Rose + Jack Dawson 4ever.
Avoid – Pride and Prejudice
I think at one stage or another I could have really loved Pride and Prejudice but I do sometimes feel like any book related to school is forever tainted, which is exactly how I feel about P&P. I can’t help but envision my countless revision notes, flashcards, frantic highlighting and scribbled notes in the corners of this book, which has since spoilt the storyline a little. I also think I’m drawn to more recent period dramas (if that’s possible) and the 1812 setting feels a little (dare I say it) irrelevant. I am painfully aware that Jane Austen did not write this iconic novel to appeal to the relatability of 2021 readers, but I just personally don’t feel much emotion or connection when reading this book.