Bridgerton has delighted fans the world over with its mix of steamy romance, historical ties, appealing cast, extravagant costumes, and sumptuous production design.
Based on Julia Quinn’s novels and produced by Shonda Rhimes, the Regency-era show follows the love lives of the noble Bridgerton family. In the first season, eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) makes her debut and attracts the notice of the highly desirable Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). In the second season, eldest son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) embarks on a quest to find his viscountess. Bridgerton season 3 is currently in the works.
Since it premiered in December 2020, Bridgerton has been one of the biggest and best Netflix shows. It has set viewership records, according to Netflix and Nielsen, which spurred the addition of the prequel Queen Charlotte.
Since the spinoff just dropped, and season 3 is still some months away, anyone in the mood for romance and scandal will need to get their fix elsewhere. Here are our recommendations for shows like Bridgerton to watch.
Pride and Prejudice
When Bridgerton premiered, it was often described as “Jane Austen meets Gossip Girl.” So, naturally, the first two shows on this list cover both. This adaptation of Austen’s Regency-era novel stars Jennifer Ehle and a very dreamy Colin Firth as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, literature’s ultimate hate-becomes-love relationship.
Elizabeth is one of five daughters of a modest country gentleman. With no dowry or connections to speak of, she is far from the glittering ton and royal court. Yet, in Mr. Darcy’s eyes, she’s a diamond of the first water. The only problem? Elizabeth believes they loathe each other! He insulted her at their first meeting, he meddle in her sister’s promising courtship with Mr. Bingley and he behaved dishonorably toward an old friend. But as they both learn, first impressions don’t always last.
Dearest reader, the Upper East Side rivals the London ton as a den of deliciously sordid goings-on. From fledgling romances to tawdry affairs to fiery breakups, Gossip Girl chronicles the Manhattan elite with as vicious a pen as Lady Whistledown. The vehicle is different — a blog rather than a pamphlet – but the contents are just as wicked and titillating.
The original Gossip Girl series follows wealthy, privileged teens and their families, including Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) and Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick). When middle-class student Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) gets involved with Serena, the mysterious yet all-knowing Gossip Girl is on the scene to tell all.
Watch on Max
The lifestyles of the rich and scandalous are observed in Downton Abbey as closely as they are in Bridgerton, though the former also spends as much time with the downstairs staff as their aristocratic overlords. Set in 1912 and the years after, the hit drama follows the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), his family and their servants at the eponymous estate.
Like Bridgerton, it features a parade of beautiful clothes, dashing hats, elegant furnishings and shocking scandals, like when Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) goes to bed with a man who ends up dead. Plus, the characters deal with various marriage dilemmas — will Mary wed the heir, Matthew, or the slimy newspaper magnate? And the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) delivers zingers that would set down Queen Charlotte.
This Jane Austen adaptation is based on the author’s final, unfinished novel. The heroine is Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), who navigates life and love in the eponymous seaside town.A chance accident first brings her to the nascent resort, which seems to be a world apart from her bucolic country upbringing.
At first, Charlotte is shocked but diverted by the antics of the quirky residents. She soon begins to form close bonds with heiress Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke), as well as enthusiastic entrepreneur Tom Parker (Kris Marshall) and his wife Mary (Kate Ashfield). But she also clashes with their brother, the handsome, seemingly hostile Sidney Parker (Theo James).
Watch on PBS Masterpiece via Prime Video
The anachronistic use of current pop songs is one of the many similarities Dickinson shares with Bridgerton. Another is the centering of strong, audacious female characters. In this imaginative rendering of the famed poet’s life, Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) is the misunderstood middle child with a gift for penning verses that cut right to the bone (and heart).
Apart from the hip-hop needle drops, the show weaves in modern language, casting and sensibilities. The characters binge-read Dickens’ Bleak House like viewers binge-watch Stranger Things. These flourishes are never jarring; instead they tie beautifully to the still-relevant difficulties faced by young, ambitious, talented women.
Watch on Apple TV Plus
The “occasionally true” comedy about Catherine the Great, empress of Russia, bears a strong resemblance to Bridgerton in the way it depicts marriage, sex and aristocrats with humor, verve and gorgeous costumes. Young, idealistic Catherine (Elle Fanning) marries a total stranger and ruler of his country, much like Queen Charlotte in the Bridgerton prequel. Like George III, Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) is handsome but mercurial.
Catherine is determined to see Russia evolve and prosper. But she’ll have to get Peter out of the way to fulfill her plans. After all, what’s a little coup and attempted murder between two spouses? While historical accuracy is thrown out the window, The Great is an entertaining, visually arresting romp.
Watch on Hulu
Set about half a century before Bridgerton, Harlots focuses on the seedier side of London — its brothels. In the 1760s, women have two choices for economic advancement: marriage or sex work. Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) opted for the latter, but is determined to keep rising in order to provide a better life for her daughters.
That means moving her brothel to a posh part of town so that she can attract wealthier clients. However, it thrusts her into a rivalry with another madam catering to the rich, Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville). Both must also contend with religious fanatics, antagonistic politicians and the police as they operate their businesses.
Watch on Hulu