On my period drama radar | April 2022

There are so many wonderful period dramas on my radar at the moment, plus I keep finding ones I’ve never seen before on streaming services that are now sitting in an endless “to watch” list. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a full time job as a period drama critic? (If that isn’t a job as of yet, and someone wants to make it so, please hire me!)

Anyway, here is what is currently on my to watch list – old, and new.

Bridgerton (Season 2)

Last week was a big week if you like your period drama to be full of Regency romance – the second season of Bridgerton arrived on Netflix. I considered taking the day off just to watch it (only half-kidding), but unfortunately I couldn’t, so had to ration my episodes a little.

The last season followed Daphne Bridgerton’s foray into the social season, based on Julia Quinn’s bestselling book The Duke and I, the first in her Bridgerton historical romance novel series. This time, we are getting an adaptation of the second novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which will follow Daphne’s older brother Anthony as he enters the marriage market.

Whilst I will share all my thoughts on Bridgerton Season 2 in full soon, I will say that the standout for me was Simone Ashley in the role of Kate Sharma – I loved her in Netflix’s brilliant Sex Education and she was even more fantastic here.

Sanditon (Season 2)

Told you it was a big week for Regency romance – the highly-anticipated second season of this show began last week on PBS.

And when I say highly-anticipated, I really, really mean it. The first season of Sanditon, based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel and adapted by period drama screenwriting legend Andrew Davies, was actually supposed to be the only one. It was left open for future seasons, but it was cancelled. However – never underestimate the power of period drama fans. Consistent campaigning on social media meant that the drama now returns and has been renewed not only for this second season, but a third too!

Sanditon follows Charlotte Heywood, a young woman from a country farming family, who goes to stay at the new seaside resort of Sanditon. The second season promises the arrival of the militia, a bohemian artist and Charlotte to take on a job as a governess. I read a really great interview with Crystal Clarke, who plays Georgiana Lambe, Austen’s only Black character, who said that Georgiana’s role will greatly increase in this season, so she is not only a smaller storyline compared to that of Charlotte Heywood’s, which I am particularly excited about.

Isabel: The Intimate Story of Isabel Allende

Last month saw the release of a three-part limited series on HBO about the Chilean author Isabel Allende. I’ve written before on my blog about how much I love Allende’s work, and I’m so excited to see this.

The series will follow Allende’s childhood, her growth as a feminist voice in Chile through her work at Paula magazine, her forced exile from Chile and other struggles in her personal life. Most of all, the series explores the tragic death of Allende’s daughter Paula, the subject of Allende’s memoir of the same name, which began life as a letter Allende started writing to Paula as she lay in a coma in hospital.

Outlander (Season 6)

Outlander commenced season six last month! I’ve actually managed to exercise some self-control with Outlander – episodes are dropping weekly, and it says a lot about how accustomed we have become to streaming services where everything is released in its entirety instantly, because I’ve decided to wait until now to start watching so I could build up a backlog and not have to wait too long!

Claire and Jamie are still living in colonial America, in North Carolina, and they can feel currents rapidly running towards the revolution that they know is going to happen.

And…

The Courtship

Okay, this isn’t a period drama… but I can’t not mention this. I think I need to write a separate post about it, and about Regency courtship etiquette, because this show is both wild and wonderful at the same time. Also, strangely, it only seems to be available to watch in the US (please correct me if I’m wrong on this!).

The Courtship is a reality TV dating show that follows eligible bachelors trying to win the heart of a heroine within the customs of Regency England… at a country house. Castle Howard in Yorkshire is the house in question (which viewers will recognise as Brideshead in Brideshead Revisited and Clyvedon, the Duke of Hastings’ estate, in Bridgerton, amongst other historical dramas, it’s a popular filming location!).

Ms Nicole Rémy is our heroine, and I have to say, she is so endearing and a joy to watch on screen as she gets to know all of the bachelors. Like in the days of Austen (there are frequent Austen references!), her family is heavily involved, as well as her close friend. They are also lovely people, and although there is a lot of drama involved in the courting of Ms Rémy, it’s a surprisingly sweet show.

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