5 TV Shows to Watch If You Miss Downton Abbey
Before Downton, there was Upstairs, Downstairs. Originally on the air from 1971 to 1975, it was the first series to explore the class distinctions between the wealthy family “upstairs” and their servants “downstairs.” The original series followed the Bellamy family who lived in a posh London townhouse and their servants. Like Downton, events like the First World War, the sinking of the Titanic, and early 20th century politics were explored. The series got a reboot in 2010, with a new family moving into the townhouse in 1936—you might notice The Crown’s Claire Foy and ER’s Alex Kingston in the cast. While it’s tough to find a place to stream the original series, you can watch both seasons of the reboot on Hulu and Amazon Prime.
The Crawleys weren’t royalty, but there were some mentions of the royal family throughout the series. Let’s not forget that episode in season four when Lady Rose got involved in an almost-scandal that involved the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II’s disgraced uncle), his mistress, and a shocking love letter. It could have been a prequel episode to Netflix’s The Crown. The series has the same family, class, and romance drama of Downton, but royal protocol is involved. It follows the Queen Elizabeth II’s ascent to the throne, politics of the time period, and portrayals of real-life historical figures (Winston Churchill, Jackie Kennedy, and Billy Graham to name a few). Plus, you might recognize some familiar faces from Downton—like Matthew Goode (who played Lady Mary’s second husband Henry Talbot) and Harry Hadden-Patton (who played Lady Edith’s husband Bertie Pelham).
Watch on Netflix.
Based on the novels by Winston Graham (and a remake of the 1975 series), this BBC show follows the main character Ross Poldark who returns to Cornwall, England, after fighting in the Revolutionary War. He finds that much has changed—the girl he loves is engaged to his cousin, his father is dead, and his ancestral home is in shambles. Like Downton, you’ll find tenuous family dynamics, love triangles, and class struggles in all three seasons of the show (a fourth one is in the works).
Watch on Amazon Prime.
If you like Downton Abbey and The Crown, Victoria is a no-brainer for you. As you can tell from the name, the series looks at the early life of Queen Victoria as she becomes queen, gets married, and has (many) children. You won’t even miss out on the servants’ quarters’ action either, the show also features a cast of characters who serve the Queen’s household—viewers will get to know their daily lives and secrets.
Stream on Amazon Prime.
To change things up (and get outside of dramas set in the United Kingdom), try the Spanish-language drama Grand Hotel on Netflix. Set in—what else—a luxurious hotel, the show follows a young man who poses as a footman to investigate his sister’s disappearance.
Stream on Netflix.