7 Historical Dramas Like The Essex Serpent to Watch Next

Apple TV+ has slowly been making a name for itself as a destination for prestige TV in the extremely competitive streaming wars. Shows like Ted Lasso, Severance, and The Morning Show have all become central attractions to Apple TV+ subscribers, and they’re bolstered further by a growing collection of acclaimed original films like CODA and The Tragedy of Macbeth. The latest addition to their library of original content, The Essex Serpent, looks to add yet another must-see selection to the streaming service.

The new historical drama is based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Perry. The series follows Cora Seaborne (Claire Danes), freed from the death of her abusive husband, she moves from London to a small village in Essex to investigate reports of a mythical serpent in the area. She forms a surprising bond with the local pastor, Will Ransome (Tom Hiddleston), but when tragedy strikes, locals accuse her of attracting the creature she’s investigating.


When first published in 2016, The Essex Serpent was considered a huge word-of-mouth success. It quickly became one of the best-selling books of that year and before long a television adaption was fast-tracked into production for Apple TV+ in 2020. Danes takes on her first major TV role since the conclusion of Homeland, and Hiddleston is fresh off the success of Loki and is taking on his third major TV role after his role in The Night Manager and his famed portrayal as the God of Mischief.

The Essex Serpent is the latest historical fiction show to give viewers a chance to travel back in time and experience extraordinary drama in an old-world setting. This trend is nothing new in the world of TV, and there are tons of options out there for fans of historical dramas. Check out the list below for a handy guide on seven recent shows that all fans of shows like The Essex Serpent should add to their watch lists immediately.

Related:How to Watch ‘The Essex Serpent’: Where to Stream the Tom Hiddleston / Claire Danes Period Drama

Launched on the History Channel in 2013, this contemporary to Game of Thrones set in medieval Scandinavia helped solidify the wave of compelling historical dramas like The Essex Serpent on TV. Inspired by the saga of Ragnar Lodbork (Travis Fimmel), a fierce Viking warrior on a journey to become a king through dramatic conquests across the Northern Hemisphere. Vikings boasts a massive ensemble cast full of talented actors, and it’s filled with epic set pieces and powerful production value to create one of TV’s most compelling historical dramas.

It’s a much more gritty experience than you’ll find with The Essex Serpent, but Vikings has been praised for its natural and authentic depictions of its time period that delivers all the expected action, but also provides a strong character study in a world rich with detail. All seasons are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, and the sequel series, Vikings: Valhalla, continues the franchise on Netflix further and builds upon the Vikings universe.

Another novel-based drama like The Essex Serpent, The Last Kingdom is based on The Saxon Stories series of novels by Bernard Cornwell about the birth of Anglo-Saxon England. The show is also something of a counterpart to Vikings by depicting the same time period from the perspective of England. We follow Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon), an orphan from an English village who is raised by Vikings as one of their own and learns their ways of life and fighting. He must choose between the ones who have taken him in and raised him, or embrace his hidden past and face his destiny back in England.

The series began as a BBC original but was eventually acquired by Netflix where all five seasons are available to stream. The streamer is also developing a feature-length sequel, Seven Kings Must Die. The Last Kingdom was a favorite among TV viewers during its run, and now that it’s complete, The Essex Serpent can take its place as a destination program for historical drama fans.

Fans of historical romances like The Essex Serpent will also be drawn to Outlander, another show based on a series of novels of the same name, but with more of a sci-fi twist as we follow Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe), a World War II army nurse who gets swept back in time to 18th century Scotland where she falls in love and becomes embroiled in the uprising of the Scottish Highlands. Outlander is part fantasy novel, part time-travel adventure, and part war drama with a story filled with smart characters and stirring plot points.

Like The Essex Serpent, Outlander is a potent historical drama filled with romance and mythical intrigue. The first four epic seasons of Outlander can be found on Netflix, but from everything from Season 5 is exclusive to the show’s broadcast home, Starz. An upcoming seventh season is in development, and a prequel series is also in the works.

The Essex Serpent is joined on Apple TV+ by Dickinson, another history-driven drama taking place in the late 19th century. This show is loosely based on the life of Emily Dickinson and stars Hailee Steinfeld as the prolific poet, but incorporates a modern sensibility and tone. Dickinson navigates the constraints of her society and her vivid imagination to fight for a voice in an oppressive world.

Dickinson ran on Apple TV+ for three seasons, with the second and third garnering great critical acclaim for Steinfeld’s performance and the show’s strong writing and unique voice. The show finished its run on Apple TV+ just in December 2021, but the seasons remain on the streamer, and they should be strongly considered for a binge by anyone who would be interested in The Essex Serpent.

Another novel-based entry of historical fiction like The Essex Serpent, Poldark tells the story of Captain Ross Vennor Poldark (Aidan Turner) returning to his home in England after years in the American War for Independence to discover the life he left behind in ruins. The series dissects the social constructs of its era through exploration of class structure and intimate introspection into flawed characters.

Poldark was a BBC production for its five seasons and originally aired in the United States on PBS as part of the Masterpiece anthology. Like its Masterpiece counterparts Downton Abbey or Sherlock, Poldark was critically adored and received praise for its grand scenery and the electric chemistry of its cast. Like The Essex Serpent, Poldark is a romantic journey through a detailed recreation of a time long gone by. All five seasons of Poldark can be streamed via Amazon Prime Video.

Jumping up a couple of centuries from where The Essex Serpent takes place, The Crown portrays the life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) after her marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Matt Smith) in 1947. The first two seasons follow the young couple through years of political turmoil and scandal in England during the early years of their marriage. The third and fourth seasons jump forward in time and recast its lead roles with Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies, giving this show a unique spin of creating decades of scope across its runtime.

The Crown is a Netflix original production, and it’s been praised for its lavish production values and the performances of its talented cast. Its historical accuracy has been called into question, but viewers have been enraptured by the opulent indulgence and luxurious fashion. All four seasons can be streamed on Netflix. The fifth and sixth seasons are currently in development, and they will close this story of Queen Elizabeth II covering her reign into the 21st century.

Related:‘The Essex Serpent’ Review: A Moody, Atmospheric Romance About Superstition and Finding Sense of Self

Here we have another show detailing characters from the late 18th century, but where The Essex Serpent takes cues from more fantastical story elements, The Great goes in a wholly original direction of tackling a historical time period with a satirical spin. This “anti-historical” comedy-drama is based loosely on Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) and her rise to power as the Empress of All Russia. Nicholas Hoult co-stars as her husband, Peter III of Russia, whose depravity makes him the target of his wife’s vengeance.

The Great makes it clear in its opening title sequence that the show takes liberties with its time period by being only an “occasional” true story. It leans heavily into the fictional side of historical fiction to create a show unique from the typical period piece. Fans of historical dramas could find this show to be a breath of fresh air with its satirical approach to a true time period. Not all period pieces need to be dramatic portrayals, and The Great has two seasons of hilarious wit from its marvelous cast streaming exclusively on Hulu. A third season has already been given the green light.


Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes on ‘The Essex Serpent’ and Why Their Period Drama Series Feels So Contemporary

Read Next

About The Author

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button