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Outlander is a popular drama series that blends fantasy and history to fantastic results, similar to another fan-favorite TV show you might know called Game of Thrones. Outlander first started airing in 2014 and is based on the bestselling book series by author Diana Gabaldon. The Starz series stars Caitríona Balfe as Claire Randall, a World War II nurse who is accidentally transported back 200 years to 1700s Scotland, landing right in the middle of a fight to keep control of the Highlands. Completely out of place as a modern English woman, Claire is forced to adjust to the starkly different environment, and soon enough she crosses paths with a handsome Scottish Highlander named Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan.
Outlander has a loyal fanbase and the show has been going for six seasons now, with a seventh season in the works, slated to be twice the length of the sixth. Over the seasons, Claire and Jamie go through quite a lot of personal hardship (and time travel) as their journey together continues, and fans are eager to know what happens next. But what should Outlander fans do while they wait for new episodes? If you are having a tough time finding your next favorite show, something to hold you over until next year, then check out these eleven great TV series that any Outlander fan will love to binge.
If what you really love about Outlander is the period romance aspect, then Poldark is the perfect show to watch next. Like Outlander, Poldark is based on the pre-existing book series of the same name, by Winston Graham. The show might not have any fantastical elements to the story, but it has plenty of love and drama, set in the late 1700s in Cornwall, England. Aiden Turner stars as Captain Ross Vennor Poldark, a man who returns from spending three years in the British Army fighting in the American War of Independence to find his father has passed and his estate is in shambles. Trying to recover, he hires a young woman named Demelza Carne, played by Eleanor Tomlinson, as a scullery maid, and the two continually butt heads. But over time, that antagonism blossoms into romance, and Poldark follows the couple over the years as they face challenges and loss. Like Claire and Jamie, Poldark and Demelza offer a timeless romance of years past. — Devon Forward
The Essex Serpent
Although the concept might make you believe that The Essex Serpent leans into the fantastical, as a series it is far more grounded in reality and quite moody. The Gothic series follows a widow named Cora Seaborne (Claire Danes) as she investigates the presence of a seemingly mystical serpent that is terrorizing a small town in Essex. In the town, she is quickly labeled as an outsider among the suspicious villagers, but finds friendship with the local pastor, Will Ransome (Tom Hiddleston) and his wife, Stella (Clémence Poésy). The complicated romantic dynamics will be familiar for any Outlander fan. Will begins to have feelings for Cora, but still holds much love and respect for his wife. As tensions run high with the disappearance of locals, Cora and Will must not only face off against the superstitions of the townsfolk but also the forbidden attraction they feel for one another. — Therese Lacson
This short-lived series is a more than worthy addition to your historical romance watchlist. Nominated for two BAFTAs and created by Happy Valley’s Sally Wainwright, Gentleman Jack tells the incredible true story of trailblazer, landowner, and prolific diarist Anne Lister, who is perfectly played by BAFTA winner Suranne Jones. Taking place in Yorkshire, England in the 1830s, this biographical drama follows Lister, who’s often considered the “first modern lesbian,” as she lives life the way she wants to live it. After her female lover leaves her to be part of a heterosexual relationship, Lister heads to her family’s home dubbed Shibden Hall and meets the kind and gentle heiress Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle). The two women swiftly fall in love, move in together, and even join their estates and exchange vows in a wedding ceremony. As the episodes unfold, Lister and Walker deal with judgment from their loved ones, changing power dynamics, and new business ventures. Lister details her relationships with women in a code language she invented in her diaries, the real ones of which were used in the making of the show. Lister and Walker’s partnership was seen as a very radical act for the time, but they had no intentions of sacrificing their authenticity for the public eye. — Emily Bernard
On the other hand, if the time travel part of Outlander is your favorite, then look no further. The NBC show Timeless stars Abigail Spencer as a history professor named Lucy Preston, Matt Lanter as soldier Wyatt Logan, and Malcolm Barrett as a programmer named Rufus Carlin, who form a team tasked with tracking down a stolen time machine. With a time machine of their own, they must chase the thief through the ages as they attempt to change history to benefit a mysterious organization. The show delivers on action and history, and as an added bonus, there’s quite a bit of romance as well. Timeless had a small yet devoted fan base while it was airing, and when the show was canceled after one season, the fans rallied together to get the cancelation reversed only three days later. Altogether, the show has two seasons and a two-hour finale, so it’s a good choice if you want a quick binge with a succinct ending, rather than a show that was canceled before the story could really be wrapped up. Tune in to Timeless for a fun and enjoyable story set all across time. — Devon Forward
Another popular historical drama that has plenty of seasons to binge is Vikings. The show is based on the legends of the Viking known as Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons. Season 1 begins in the late 700s, with Ragnar, played by Travis Fimmel, forming a plan to become an earl and lead a mission to raid England. Similar to Game of Thrones, Vikings has plenty of death over the seasons, but as it’s more based in history, the fighting and wars are similar to those that Jamie might fight throughout Outlander. All of the characters in Vikings have amazingly rich character arcs, with Katheryn Winnick playing the warrior Lagertha, who is also Ragnar’s wife, Clive Standen as Ragnar’s brother Rollo, and Ragnar’s sons Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith), Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen), and Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) all playing very important roles. So if you want your next show to have a lot of historically-based action mixed in with the drama, you should check out Vikings. — Devon Forward
The Spanish Princess
The Spanish Princess is the third in a series of television historical dramas about influential female figures in European history. It’s a follow-up to 2013’s The White Queen starring Rebecca Ferguson and 2017’s The White Princess starring Jodie Comer, altogether based on a series of historical novels by Philippa Gregory. The Spanish Princess, which aired its 16 episodes throughout 2019 and 2020, stars Charlotte Hope as Catherine of Aragon, whose name some might recognize as belonging to the first wife of Henry VIII, but here she is a princess in the years before her marriage. The show recounts her journey to England to meet Prince Arthur (Angus Imrie), her betrothed, only to end up entangled with his younger brother Henry (Ruairi O’Connor) after Arthur’s tragic death. The Spanish Princess has everything you could ever want, including romance, war, politics, and court intrigue. As most stories of this time period in history tend to focus on the women who came after Catherine, it’s nice to see her story featured on screen, albeit a bit dramatized for entertainment. Though to be honest, European history of this time — and in particular the Tudors — had enough drama that the truth barely needs to be exaggerated to make interesting television. — Devon Forward
A Discovery of Witches
Still looking for that fantasy twist? A Discovery of Witches is an exciting fantasy drama with a great central romance that fans of Outlander will definitely love. But Outlander fans will probably enjoy the series even more when they get to the second season, which takes place mainly in 1500s Elizabethan London. A Discovery of Witches is based on the popular All Souls book series by Deborah Harkness, starring Teresa Palmer as a witch and historian named Diana Bishop and Matthew Goode as vampire and biochemistry professor Matthew Clairmont. The two meet at Oxford where Diana is studying alchemy, igniting a romance that challenges the long-held antagonism between the magical species, while also unraveling the mystery as to why magic seems to be disappearing. Just as star-crossed as Jamie and Claire, Diana and Matthew are a perfect substitute romance to obsess over as you wait for the Outlander couple to return. — Devon Forward
Posed as a prequel series to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic 1883 novel Treasure Island, Black Sails is set on New Providence Island in the Bahamas in the early 18th century, when piracy was at its peak. The show features many familiar characters, including Captain James Flint, played by Toby Stephens, John Silver, portrayed by Luke Arnold, Billy Bones, played by Tom Hopper, and more. Black Sails also has fantastic female characters front and center, with Hannah New playing Eleanor Guthrie, Jessica Parker Kennedy as Max, and Clara Paget as real-life pirate Anne Bonny, to name a few. As a premium channel series, Black Sails, which finished in 2017 after four seasons, had the same amount of freedom as Outlander in terms of action and adult content, which the creators used well to create a rich, character-driven story. Over the course of the show’s run, Black Sails also gained a lot of praise for its queer representation, which is another reason you should check out this notable show. — Devon Forward
Both based on romance novels, Bridgerton offers a far lighter fare when compared to Outlander but is no less steamy or emotional. Following the romantic lives of the eight Bridgerton children through their time in Regency-era England, there’s little political intrigue or warfare, but there’s more than enough romance to boot. With each season centering around one of the siblings (so far), the series has gained massive appeal from audiences who want a historical romance with a bit more spice. The first season centers around the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page) and eldest Bridgerton daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), while the second season focuses on the eldest Bridgerton, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), and the enchanting Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley). With plenty of soapy side plots, the series is sure to satisfy Outlander fans who might want a bit of a reprieve from some of the heavier subjects that the show is so good at tackling. — Therese Lacson
The Apple TV+ series Dickinson is unlike any other title on this list and it is better off for it. Oscar-nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld illuminates the screen as a young Emily Dickinson, one of the best and most influential poets in American history. Created by Alena Smith, the half-hour origin story dramedy follows Emily as she navigates the frustrating expectations from her family and the gender norms that make it difficult for her to be the artist she was destined to be. Suffocating from societal oppression, the rebellious writer shamelessly pursues her passion for poetry, which she writes for her close friend and crush Sue (Ella Hunt), who encourages her to share her work with the world. Despite the era and its limitations, Dickinson feels very much like a modern coming-of-age series with its racially diverse cast, explorations of sexuality, and modern terminology like “influencer” and saying that people are being “so extra.” It unabashedly leans into life’s comically-messy moments, making this period piece a bit of lighter fare while still seriously exploring one’s deepest desires. This three-season series also features Jane Krakowski, Toby Huss, Adrian Enscoe, Wiz Khalifa, Jason Mantzoukas, Billy Eichner, and Zosia Mamet. — Emily Bernard
Set a little earlier than Jamie and Claire’s story, The Tudors is a popular historical TV series set in 1500s England. Although there’s no fantasy or supernatural aspect to the story, The Tudors definitely matches Outlander in terms of drama and action, and it has great historical fashion to rival Claire’s iconic Scottish and French attire. If you aren’t familiar with the history, The Tudors focuses on the infamous King Henry VIII, who notoriously went through six different wives during his lifetime, his first being Catherine of Aragon, who is the subject of the previously mentioned The Spanish Princess. The Showtime series stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII, while other familiar faces like Henry Cavill, Natalie Dormer, and Annabelle Wallis are a part of the extensive cast. The Tudors is truly the perfect next watch for Outlander fans, a similarly exciting series with vibrant characters, and no shortage of romance and tragedy. — Devon Forward
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