It's official. The greatest era in television history is over. Downton Abbey has come to an end.
Ok, so I exaggerate, but I'm in serious Crawley withdrawal. I finally finished the series last weekend (after dragging out the inevitable for as long as possible) and am now comforting myself my re-watching the series over again from the beginning (for the 100th time).
So if you're like me and you're channel surfing aimlessly through a Downtown Abbey-less world, here are 5 other great period dramas to help you cope during this difficult time.
North and South - Set in Northern England in the mid-1800s, this BBC miniseries is a classic period romance with some themes of class and gender thrown in for good measure. Southern clergyman's daughter Margaret Hale must adjust to life in industrial Northern England all while battling conflicting feelings for the town's resident cotton-mill owner John Thornton. Downton Abbey fans will be happy to spot Brendan Coyle (who played John Bates) as the town's union leader.
The White Queen - This is one period drama that goes waaay back in time, all the way to the 15th century War of the Roses. The story follows the women who so often get left out of the history books, particularly Queen Elizabeth Woodville who was grandmother to Henry VIII and great-grandmother to Queen Elizabeth I. This show is a little more fanciful than purely historic, but it's got a great romance and with so many people fighting for the crown, the stakes are always very high.
Land Girls - Set in the English countryside during World War II, this is the story of four girls in the Women's Land Army who were sent to help the war effort by working on English farms. Here you'll also find plenty of star-crossed lovers and dangerous heroes as the men are sent off to war one by one.
Grand Hotel - Grand Hotel is what I've been calling "Spanish Downton Abbey" since it's the closest thing I've found to Downton Abbey itself. Made and set in Spain, Grand Hotel has got everything you could ask for: romance, murder, mystery, forbidden love, secret babies, and a really cute leading man. It is in Spanish, but it's all available with subtitles on Netflix and I've found that I barely notice the language barrier.
Upstairs Downstairs - Of all the shows on my list, this is the only one I haven't actually watched yet. Although it hasn't been personally vetted, I had to include it because when Downton Abbey first came out, I kept hearing it described as "a lot like Upstairs Downstairs." Although it may have many similarities, Upstairs Downstairs takes place in London in the mid 1930s, which puts it a world away from the social, political, and historical context of Downton Abbey. This show was obviously quite popular because a 1970s version with the same name was remade in 2010. If any of you have seen either version already, let me know what you think in the comments :)
This may seem like cold comfort to us Fellowes-freaks, but I'm being totally honest when I say that I've thoroughly enjoyed everything I've seen on this list. If anyone has any other great recommendations for period romances, please leave a note in the comments! I can only survive on re-runs for so long!
And remember: Julian Fellowes' new series The Gilded Age about late 19th century New York is set to start production later this year! I must say that definitely softens the blow...