Forget Bridgerton — The Empress is the new hit drama on Netflix

Devrim Lingnau, Philip Froissant in Netflix's The Empress
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix certainly seems to love a period drama, and the latest one to hit the service seems to be doing pretty well with audiences. The Empress, which entered Netflix’s catalogue last week, has been climbing the top 10 charts and currently sits in the number 2 slot — beaten only by the ever-controversial Jeffrey Dahmer Story which continues to dominate.

Set in the 1800s, the German-made series follows Elisabeth “Sisi” von Wittelsbach, a 16-year-old Bavarian duchess who falls in love with Austrian emperor Franz Joseph. The fact that Franz is supposed to marry Sisi’s older sister Helene doesn’t deter the couple from marrying — making Sisi the titular Empress.

As expected the six-episode series features plenty of politicking, with Sisi having to handle the fact her new in-laws are constantly scheming to advance their own position; very Game of Thrones, but without the dragons. There is violence and sex, in case anyone was wondering, so bear that in mind.

In addition to sitting at the top of the Netflix charts, The Empress is proving itself through the other channels. There aren’t enough professional reviews for an official Rotten Tomatoes score, but the three reviews listed on the site are all positive. Meanwhile the audience score is currently sitting at 89%, based on 123 ratings. The IMDB score is also sitting at 7.9 stars, based on 2,000 ratings.

Maggie Lovitt, from Collider, gave the first season an A score, saying: “Fans of historical dramas will want to make time for The Empress, as its first season is truly a magnificently crafted program.” 

Meanwhile Joel Keller at Decider gave The Empress a “Stream it” stamp, declaring the show is a “sexy period drama that might remind you of Bridgerton” — though it does take an episode for the story to really get going.

M.N. Miller at Ready Steady Cut was similarly positive, giving The Empress 4.5 out of 5. The review declares: “When it comes down to it, not only does the series highlight modern themes, but The Empress does what only the very best movies and television series can do — transport you to another time and place.”

Sadly, as Cosmopolitan notes, there is one thing about The Empress that viewers seem universally unhappy about. That is the fact that there are only six episodes in the first season, and Netflix being Netflix it’s likely that fans will be waiting a while for new episodes to arrive.

But hey, like The Crow, this show is based on real world history and means superfans can find out what’s likely to happen next if they really want to. Which will be helpful should Netflix ever prematurely cancel the show.

The show is also in German, and Netflix doesn’t always have the best history when subtitles or dubbing is concerned. Squid Game came under fire for poor dubbing after launch, and anyone who watched Lupin in English will no doubt agree that the quality isn’t fantastic. Thankfully, The Empress isn’t getting that same criticism thus far.

So if you’re looking for something new to watch, and like the idea of historical drama, then The Empress should find itself at home in your watch list.

Next: Dahmer is now the second-highest viewed English-language show on Netflix, and there's still room to grow

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.