Screenwriters are always on the lookout for fresh ideas, but history is sometimes the most inspiring source to come up with a riveting story. World history is full of epic battles and bigger-than-life characters. And while not always historically accurate, Netflix productions have long drawn from real events to deliver some of the finest TV programs of all time. So, are you yearning for a televised trip in the past? Let’s jump aboard a time machine with these five binge-worthy period dramas.
Ancient Rome has always fascinated the cinema industry. Shows like Rome and Spartacus revived the passion for Rome on TV. But this Netflix original took a different approach by focusing on one of the most resounding defeats in Roman history. The story picks up in 9AD in Roman-occupied Germania. Unrest is rampant among tribes seeking freedom, while other chieftains try to appease the invader. Little do they know that Arminius, a Germanic child hostage turned Roman officer, will change the course of history.
True to real-life events, Barbarians culminates in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, which brought an abrupt end to Emperor Augustus’ expansion. This German period drama sticks out for its historical scrutiny. Producers even took accuracy a step further by crafting dialogues in Latin. And as Barbarians returns to Netflix on October 21, lovers of vivid battles can get hyped up with the show’s season 2 trailer.
Netflix has a thing for royalty. The success of Bridgerton proved them right. But years before this period drama became the streaming giant’s most-watched English-language show, an award-winning series had paved the way. Taking on creator Peter Morgan’s own film, The Queen, this historical drama depicts the life of Queen Elisabeth II, from her youth to her accession to the throne and beyond.
Lauded for its cinematography and solid acting performances, The Crown is consistently named among the best Netflix shows ever. With success came backlash, however, as some critics chastised the series’ historical inaccuracies. The British royal family even called out Morgan’s work for its negative portrayal of the monarchy. Still, the Queen’s recent passing saw viewership soar. And the show remains a must-watch for those interested in British history.
A zombie show first and foremost, Kingdom never professed historical accuracy. Still, the creators of this horror drama put an exciting spin on the formula by placing the action in a medieval setting. The story unfolds in a fictional version of 16th-century Korea, as the Crown Prince investigates an unknown plague turning all infected into blood-thirsty monsters.
Mixing elements of thriller and political intrigue with sheer horror, this Korean drama is a hair-raising watch serviced by gorgeous cinematography. Period costumes and visually-stunning historical settings evocative of the Joseon classic period add further depth to an already compelling story.
A direct follow-up to History Channel’s world-famous Vikings series, Vikings Valhalla takes viewers on a 100-year time-jump. This sequel centers on Leif Erikson as he navigates the rising tensions between his fellow Vikings and English royals, as much as the clash between holders of ancient pagan beliefs and new converts to Christianity. Despite polarizing the fandom, Vikings Valhalla captivates for its tight writing and production value.
The series is also a worthy addition to a long list of Norse-infused productions, among recent flicks like The Northman. Video games also jumped on the bandwagon, from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to machine slots. And Viking-themed slots amount to some of the top Vegas online slots. Games like Brave Viking and Age of Vikings strike the perfect balance between fun and historical inspiration. Players may even get their entertainment fix on the go thanks to mobile-friendly slots. Plus, there are thousands more free slots to have a blast.
Period dramas may conjure up images of fancily dressed courtiers and sword-swinging knights in armor. But Narcos flipped the table to delve into a past so recent, some of its protagonists are still living and breathing. And this adrenaline-pumping depiction of the late 20th-century drug wars set the bar tremendously high.
Boasting impeccable acting and sharp writing, the first part of the series revolved around the life and eventual arrest of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The Cali cartel played center stage in a third Colombian season before a spin-off took over in 2018. Shifting the focus to the Sinaloa cartel, Narcos: Mexico wrapped up to critical acclaim in 2021.