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HBO’s “The Gilded Age” has won over fans with its gorgeous costumes, elaborate New York-circa-1882 sets, and literally anything Christine Baranski as grouchy socialite (by way of old money, thank you very much) Agnes van Rhijn. The Julian Fellowes series follows the van Rhijn-Brooks and the Russells, two families who live across the street from one another in uptown Manhattan in the 1880s. And while both uber wealthy, they are cut from different cloths — the van Rhijns are upstanding members of the old money set and the Russells represent new money, gained from a railroad boom and Mr. Russell’s less-than-ethical business practices. There’s lots of class tension, scandals, and back-stabbing. Honestly, any show in which Carrie Coon, who plays Mrs. Bertha Russell, vows to get revenge on everyone is going to be a journey.
If you’ve taken to “The Gilded Age” over its freshmen run and are looking for other shows with similarities, here are five recommendations.
If you’re a Julian Fellowes fan, I suspect you’ve already devoured his biggest hit, “Downton Abbey”, but if not — what are you waiting for? The series (which aired for six seasons and is about to release its second movie) starts out in 1912 England and follows Lord and Lady Grantham, their three daughters Mary, Edith, and Sybil, and a whole host of their maids and servants. It’s a little more romantic than “The Gilded Age”, but is full of more #RichPeopleProblems, scandals, and upstairs-downstairs juxtapositions.
Available on Netflix and Peacock
Okay, if you still haven’t had your fill of Julian Fellowes stories about rich people doing stuff in other time periods, you could also try “Belgravia”. This limited series kicks off with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and then jumps twenty-six years to look at the fallout of a few things that went down back then. There’s a big parentage reveal and ensuing scandal, young, pretty people falling in love, and yes, more gorgeous costumes and elaborate sets. At only six episodes, you’re less attached to this crew than, say “Downton”, but it’ll scratch that itch.
If you’re looking for more sprawling period pieces but want to up the fun and the heat, watch “Bridgerton”. Created by Chris Van Dusen and adapted from Julia Quinn’s romance novel series, “Bridgerton” tells the story of the Bridgertons, a wealthy family in high society, Regency Era London, as they navigate the social season (read: try to make good marriage matches). It’s swoony and steamy, and while everyone is in corsets and tuxedos, it is anything but a stuffy period piece.
Available to stream on Netflix
For another show set in the Regency era, there’s “Sanditon”. Based on characters from an unfinished Jane Austen manuscript, Sanditon follows Charlotte Heywood, who finds herself in the seaside town of Sanditon, which, much like New York City in “The Gilded Age”, is going through a period of change and growth. There’s romance and betrayal and heartbreak, as any good romantic period piece should have.
Available on PBS or with a PBS subscription
So many period pieces, including the ones mentioned here, feature stories about women pushing the boundaries of what the “rules” of their society tell them they can have, about women craving more than what the patriarchy says they are allowed — “Gentleman Jack” is about a woman who demands more, and then takes it. The series is based on the real life of Anne Lister, who in 1830s Yorkshire, England, takes over her family’s estate, attempts to revive her family’s coal mines, and is hoping to find a suitable wife. It’s a drama, but infused with humor and playfulness along the way.
Available to stream on HBO and HBO Max