I’ve come to the realization that my preferred genre in film is historical fiction. While I love a good crime mystery or dystopian story, more often than not, I gravitate to period dramas. And, as a result, I tend to binge watch when I find one I like.
I sit here a bit bleary-eyed today because for the past three nights, I’ve binge watched my latest obsession on Netflix, The Last Kingdom, until midnight each night. I admit I’m surprised I like it as much as I do given the violence and gore of the battle scenes. Parts of it are historically accurate for events between the Saxons and Danes in the 9th century. Parts have applied liberal artistic license to enhance the storylines between the characters. The story in summary goes like this: Young Saxon boy sees his father killed by invading Danes. He is captured and raised by a Dane family who adopts him. Uhtred grows into a fierce Danish warrior and witnesses his surrogate family killed. He is now caught between two worlds, wanting to avenge his adoptive father’s death and wanting to reclaim his Saxon birthright. Uhtred is a complicated character but oh, so likable.
Outlander was my first serious step into binge watching. I wrote my thoughts about it HERE. I received a set of the first four books for Christmas and am looking forward to seeing how the books compare to the television series on STARZ.
The White Queen was next up after Outlander. It’s a story about the blood feud between the House of York and the House of Lancaster over who is the country’s true king in 1464. Young Edward IV, heir to the House of York, is crowned king with help from master manipulator Lord Warwick, known as “The Kingmaker, ” who also wants to control the throne. That plan fails when Edward falls in love with Lancastrian commoner, Elizabeth Woodville. A violent struggle for the crown ensues….
Queen Elizabeth (Woodville) births a daughter with Edward IV who is strategically used to unite the two houses together by marrying the newly-crowned Henry VII, ending the feud between York and Lancaster in 1485. This is the premise for the sequel, White Princess.
Queen Elizabeth (of York) and Henry VII give birth to the future King Henry VIII and the third sequel picks up in 1501 with Henry’s involvement with his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, in The Spanish Princess.
None of these shows are completely, historically accurate. Rather, they are based on true events but embellished to make the characters more likable/hatable. But, what they did was drive me to learn more about the time period in which they were set and the actual historical personas of the characters. I can say I know more about the lineage and dysfunction of England’s royal family the the 15th and 16th centuries than I ever thought possible. I like that the White Queen, White Princess and Spanish Princess are told from the vantage point of the women of the day.
Newer to my binge list is The Crown, which is returning with Season 5 in November on Netflix. I have a greater admiration and respect for the current Queen Elizabeth after watching the first four seasons.
Other binge-worthy shows are:
Sons of Liberty on The History Channel is about Sam Adams, Paul Revere, John Adams, George Washington, and the brilliant-but-mischievous diplomat, Ben Franklin, who helped spark the American Revolution.
The Medici: Masters of Florence and Meci: the Magnificent tell the tale of the powerful Medici family in 15th century Florence, Italy and their contributions to artistic life as well as their quest for political control.
Downton Abby was on PBS and has since spun off into one movie with another in the works. Set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926, it centers around one aristocratic family and their domestic help. There are six seasons to enjoy along with a 2019 feature film. And, there is another on the way later in 2022.
This may look like a long list of shows, but I’m here to tell you when you watch 3-4 episodes in one sitting, it just doesn’t take that long!
What is your favorite genre?