There are two main draws to Bridgerton — the Jane Austen-inspired Regency-era pomp and circumstance of your typical costume drama, and the horny AF sex scenes ripped straight from the pages of a romance novel. The Shonda Rhimes-produced Netflix series is based on the Bridgerton series of romance novels by Julia Quinn, which follow a large, well-to-do family in early 1800s London.
After you finish bingeing the series — and let’s be real, that’s absolutely the way to watch it, since the light and fizzy episodes go down like popcorn (i.e. you’re not going to stop at one) — you can take two routes: historical or horny (or, if you’re lucky, both). While we’ve collected a bunch of shows that scratch one or both of those itches, it should be known that few of TV’s sexiest shows approach sex with the blazing hot female gaze of Bridgerton. So while there will certainly be some smokin’ sex scenes, they won’t be handled with the same finesse as Bridgerton‘s.
Below, find a list of shows that embody the two sides of Bridgerton: period drama, simmering romance, or both.
If you’re in the market for sexy romance with a little adventure thrown in, then you’ll want to cue up some Outlander. The series, based on the action/adventure/sci-fi/romance novels by Diana Gabaldon, features Caitriona Balfe as time-traveling WWII nurse Claire, who is dropped in the middle of 18th century Scotland and immediately falls in love with the sexy, kilt-wearing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). The sex-to-other stuff ratio is not nearly as high as Bridgerton‘s (and there’s plenty of violence, too), but the passion of Claire and Jamie’s time-tested relationship is worth getting invested.
If you missed this series when it aired on The CW, you’re forgiven — because you can still experience this delightful romance about a young Mary Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane) via Netflix. It’s got a love triangle between Mary’s betrothed and her fiancé’s bastard half-brother, eerie decrees from Nostradamus, political intrigue, and 16th-century costumes by way of Anthropologie. But it’s the romantic exploits of Mary and all of her handmaidens that really center the series. You need to know that in the first episode, King Henry screws a girl out of a window to her death. That’s what you’re working with here. Horny history with anachronistic costuming and plot beats? Sign the f up, baby.
The BBC’s 2018 Les Miserables miniseries is a slick, modern take on a classic story told well. David Oyelowo stars as Inspector Javert and was also an executive producer on the project, where he had a major hand in making sure the miniseries represented its characters of color well in a genre that is notoriously whitewashed (seriously, uh, look at the rest of this list).
Set a few years later than Bridgerton, this Epix series is based on the novel of the same name by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and follows well-to-do families in the upscale, newly developed London neighborhood of Belgravia. While there’s not as much sex as in Bridgerton, there are plenty of secrets and scandals that have long-lasting ramifications for all of the families involved in the series. There’s a little more historical accuracy here, so if you couldn’t get past your “wait, that’s definitely not what would’ve happened” reactions in Bridgerton then this will probably more up your alley.
Henry VIII had six wives and a whole lot of romantic conquests, at least according to this four-season series. Of course, that’s what you get when you cast someone as hot as Jonathan Rhys Myers in the lead. Besides, you’re making a show about a man who had six wives. And don’t worry about historical accuracy. By Showtime’s own description, it’s “history-based,” meaning it’s ok if you just want to watch a sexy young King Henry bang his way through England. Sorry, we mean watch a “competitive and lustful monarch who navigates the intrigues of the English court and the human heart with equal vigor and justifiable suspicion.”
After airing on Ovation Network in the U.S., this French production is available on Netflix and is set during the reign of King Louis XIV as he commissioned the construction of the titular palace. If you want more opulent wealth and historical intrigue than Bridgerton provided, this series will certainly do the trick — and it has even more debaucherous sex scenes (seriously, there were entire European newspaper beats about the sex in this show).
Brothers & Sisters
At its core, Bridgerton is about a large family and their relationships — with each other, with romantic partners — so there doesn’t necessarily need to be a period element to scratch that same itch. This hourlong drama that aired on ABC from 2006-11 leans a little bit more on heavy emotional beats than romantic intrigue, but it sees the Walker family, headed by a strong matriarch (Sally Field), through major life changes — death, addiction, political campaigns, tragedy, and of course, love.
Tiny Pretty Things
Another contemporary show, this ballet drama launched a few weeks before Bridgerton and includes plenty of explicit sex scenes. (There are even more butts in this show than in Bridgerton, and there are a lot of butts in Bridgerton.) This soap, based on a YA novel, follows the goings-on at an elite ballet school (including attempted murder, illicit affairs, conspiracies, blackmail, and other juicy things.
Netflix’s current crown jewel of original programming is almost like two (soon to be three) delicious period series in one — starting at the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the series covers the monarch’s rule from the 1950s through the late ’80s, with a new cast taking over every two seasons. There’s juicy drama, scandal, political machination, and a mega-production budget — basically everything great about Bridgerton, minus the sex. And to be honest, since The Crown is about actual, living people, that’s probably for the best.
In the same way that The Crown is a dramatization of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, ITV and PBS drama Victoria is a fictional take on the reign of Queen Victoria. It’s eminently watchable, pleasant, and poignant, a straight-up historical drama that also explores the intensity of the love affair between Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Albert (Jonathan Firth) without showing any skin — a very Victorian way to explore the topic.
This period drama takes place in an entirely different era than Bridgerton and is a procedural detective series rather than a soapy drama. But it’s set in the 1950s in the English countryside (so excellent escapism), and stars James Norton as an impossibly hot vicar who helps the cops in his small town solve crimes while also carrying on a definitely-not-godly flirtation-turned-relationship with an old, very married friend. Come for the cut-from-marble hot priest, stay for the delightful crime-solving.
This one-season series based on an unfinished Jane Austen manuscript takes place in the Regency era in the seaside resort of Sanditon. While Austen’s work inspired much of the first episode, the rest of the series takes the witty, funny characters introduced by the author and fleshes them out. Speaking of flesh — the frequent allusions to sex caused plenty of pearl-clutching when the series aired in the U.K. but it didn’t go as far as Bridgerton in terms of flat-out boning. There’s the traditional Regency-era flirting at dances and Austen’s signature social commentary, but just know that the ending is somewhat controversial — it inspired plenty of online uproar after airing.
Pride and Prejudice
If your first thought when it comes to filmed entertainment about the Regency era is not Colin Firth emerging from a lake in with a white shirt clinging to his torso in the 1990s BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries then you are obviously a Gen Z-er in for a true education. One of the most famous takes on Jane Austen’s most famous novel, the 1995 miniseries is clearly a major inspiration for Bridgerton — but on the sexytimes front, you’ll have to make do with Colin Firth’s sideburns and the image of that sopping wet shirt.
The upstairs-downstairs dynamic between the aristocratic families at the center of the series and their dutiful household staff isn’t really explored in Bridgerton, but if that power dynamic is intriguing to you then the miniseries-turned-long-running drama Downton Abbey could be your next TV pick. Taking place between 1912 and 1926, the drama focuses on all the inhabitants of a grand English estate, from the well-to-do Crawley family (and Maggie Smith‘s Dowager Countess who’s never heard of the weekend) to their butlers, maids, footmen, and more.
The thing that makes Bridgerton different from other Regency romances? That Shondaland touch. Its closest spiritual cousin as far as Shondaland shows go is Scandal, with professional fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) solving the most powerful people in the world’s problems by day, and engaging in a messy but hot affair with the married president by night. Like Bridgerton‘s orchestral modern pop songs, Scandal has its own pivotal musical moments with classic soul, R&B, and Motown needle drops. Bridgerton creator Chris Van Dusen was a writer/producer on the political drama (and a writer on Grey’s Anatomy before that).
The Spanish Princess
Two of Philippa Gregory’s historical novels were the basis for this Starz series, about Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope), the titular character and first wife of King Henry VIII of England. And since it is a television show made for a premium cable network in the late 2010s, of course, it is sexy and scandalous and stars very hot people.
If period-esque historical pieces are your jam (meaning mainly as historically faithful but with a few anachronistic elements, like score or costume or occasional dialogue) — plus you’re into the idea of a sexy period show with an all-women creative team and just as much male nudity as female nudity, then this three-season Hulu series about an 18th century London brothel, its workers, and clientele, is definitely for you.
Sometimes movies try to be serious and the exact opposite thing happens instead.
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