Julian Fellowes is a mastermind when it comes to high-society period dramas — and fans of the genre thank him. In 2022, Fellowes debuted his HBO series "The Gilded Age." Naturally, the show takes place during the 1880s (also known as, you guessed it, the Gilded Age).
The Gilded Age seasons 1-2 are streaming on Max.
Given the economic hardships in the past decade-plus, TV fans are often on the lookout for shows that can transport us out of our own reality. As a result, viewers have flocked to the fictional petty dramas and chaotic love lives of high society (whether they’re set in the Gilded Age, the early 1900s with "Downton Abbey" or "Gossip Girl's" early aughts setting). We just want overdramatic plotlines, messy romance arcs, and dissociation from our paltry bank accounts.
Like many high society shows, "The Gilded Age" highlights a family: the Russells. The 1882 New York-based show depicts the clash of the new-money family with their old-money neighbors, the Van Rhijns.
It’s a tale as old as time that has followed wealthy communities long before and way after the Gilded Age — which is why we keep coming back to the premise. So, if you’re on the prowl for some more high-society shenanigans while you wait for season 3, here are five shows like "The Gilded Age" to fill that void.
Straight off the heels of the Titanic disaster, "Downton Abbey" takes place in 1912 Britain. Facing the loss of two heirs of the fictional town, the show focuses on one family: the Crawleys. Given that both male heirs lose their lives when the ship goes down, "Downton Abbey" largely centers on the women of the family as the series tackles the trials and tribulations that women of the period went through with a soap opera-esque flair.
"Downton Abbey" arguably sparked the current interest in upper-class period pieces that paved the way for shows like "Bridgerton" and "The Gilded Age." The latter's creator Julian Fellowes is also responsible for the 2010 series that ran until 2015. The cast includes Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley), Brendan Coyle (John Bates), and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley).
Elle Fanning’s "The Great" may take place in 18th-century Russia, but the highly fictionalized iteration of Catherine the Great’s rise to power is one of the most entertaining period pieces currently streaming. Like "The Gilded Age," "The Great" chronicles a period of evolution. In the case of Catherine’s Russia, both science and technology are evolving much quicker than most of the world.
As a Polish-turned-Russian transplant, Catherine, like Marian, has a different perspective than the high-society women they find themselves among. Despite being set over 100 years in the past, both shows have a slight modernity when it comes to their comedic tones.
Fanning leads the show as Catherine while Nicholas Hoult stars as a very chaotic iteration of Peter the Great. Tony McNamara created the three-season 2020 series.
Watch on Hulu
'Gossip Girl' (2007)
OK, so "Gossip Girl" might not immediately seem comparable to a "Gilded Age" throwback TV series, but hear us out. Both shows take place in New York City, focusing on high society drama and the clashes between different upper classes within the city — partially through the lens of an outsider looking in (hi, Marian Brook and Dan Humphrey). Agnes can even give Queen Bee Blair Waldorf a run for her money in the sass department.
Like the late 1800s, the early aughts were a period of rapid change and technological growth, shaping the premise of "Gossip Girl" with a shrouded teenager churning out a digital burn book that exposes Manhattan’s elite. The class power struggles are real as the characters fail to stop dating everyone’s exes. Hey, the upper-echelon dating pool is only so big.
Watch on Max
Give us "Gossip Girl" but make it a British period piece. The Regency era-based show "Bridgerton" revolves around the concept of young women in the early 1800s making their way into high society in the form of finding a beau. In the midst of each season’s high society drama, feuds, and love triangles, the Bridgerton women have to contend with an early form of a gossip rag: Lady Whistledown (played by the esteemed Julie Andrews).
The paper is helmed by an anonymous member of the town. But unlike "Gossip Girl," the Chris Van Dusen show doesn’t debut with the mystery of the writer’s identity (which led to the clunky ending of the 2007 show that’s riddled with plot holes). The Bridgerton cast includes Nicola Coughlan (Penelope Featherington), Luke Newton (Colin Bridgerton), Claudia Jessie (Eloise Bridgerton), and Luke Thompson (Benedict Bridgerton).
Watch on Netflix
Julian Fellowes really does have a ‘type’ when it comes to his TV shows. Like "The Gilded Age" and "Downton Abbey," his lesser-known 2016 mini-series is a period drama that tackles the woes of high society, family drama, and chaotic love stories. Unlike "The Gilded Age" — which simply got its name from Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner’s satirical 1873 satire that birthed the name of the time period — "Doctor Thorne" is actually based on Anthony Trollope’s 1853 novel by the same name.
Given that the series takes place during the same time the book was written, it’s a more authentic historical adaptation than the other two (albeit shorter and arguably less captivating). Harry Richardson (Frank Gresham), Tom Hollander (Doctor Thorne), Stefanie Martini (Mary Thorne), Rebecca Front (Lady Arabella Gresham), and Richard McCabe (Frank Gresham Senior) lead the series.
Rent/buy on Apple
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Xandra is an entertainment journalist with clips in outlets like Salon, Insider, The Daily Dot, and Regal. In her 6+ years of writing, she's covered red carpets, premieres, and events like New York Comic Con. Xandra has conducted around 200 interviews with celebrities like Henry Cavill, Sylvester Stallone, and Adam Driver. She received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Randolph College, where she chilled with the campus ghosts and read Edgar Allan Poe at 3 am.