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These crime dramas will hold you over until the movie
Peaky Blinders debuted on Netflix in 2014, becoming one of the defining shows of Netflix's early expansion era and inspiring men who don't look like Cillian Murphy to get the gang's shaved-on-the-sides haircut, much to their and their barbers' chagrin. It ended after six seasons earlier this year. Creator Steven Knight is open about his plans to wrap up the story with a movie, which, according to Indiewire, he was in the process of writing this summer. So even though the TV show has come to a close, there's probably more Peaky Blinders on the horizon, though nothing has been officially announced at this point.
Peaky Blinders is set in the gritty industrial city of Birmingham, England, after World War I, and follows Tommy Shelby (Murphy), a laconic war veteran and leader of the eponymous gang, which consists of his family members and is named for the razor blades they keep in their hat brims. Tommy wants the family to go legit, but it's hard to escape the life when you're born into it and the world conspires to keep you a criminal. Throughout the show, Tommy and his family members fight and/or form alliances with other ethnic gangs, trade unionists, the police, and each other, while navigating the cultural tumult of the 1920s. The final season is driven by Tommy's nephew Michael Gray's (Finn Cole) quest for revenge for Tommy's role in the death of his mother, Polly Gray (the late Helen McCrory), against the backdrop of the repeal of Prohibition in the United States.
If you're a fan of Peaky Blinders, you'll enjoy these other period crime dramas, shows about gang conflicts and crime families, and shows with Peaky Blinders cast members, including the inimitable Tom Hardy.
There's no show more like Peaky Blinders than Boardwalk Empire, HBO's epic historical crime drama (except for maybe one, which we'll get to in a moment). They're almost like cousins, one in the old country and one in America. They're both set in the 1920s and early 1930s and follow the business and personal battles of the leader of an organized crime family in a city that exists in the shadow of a bigger city. On Boardwalk Empire, it's Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), the biggest bootlegger in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Like Peaky Blinders, Boardwalk Empire is a fictionalized take on historical figures, some of whom were real and some of whom were inspired by real people. The shows both have handsome historical costumes and production design, great performances from a star-studded cast, and a certain sordid operatic quality to their dramatic themes. If you like Peaky Blinders, you might find you like Boardwalk Empire even more. It's bigger and crazier and goes places even Peaky Blinders doesn't go.
The only other show that's as much like Peaky Blinders as Boardwalk Empire is Taboo, FX's historical drama from 2017. Taboo is a collaboration between a couple of Peaky Blinders blokes, creator Steven Knight and Tom Hardy, whose performance as eccentric Jewish gangster Alfie Solomons is one of the best parts of Peaky Blinders, along with Hardy's father, writer Chips Hardy. The younger Hardy stars as James Delaney, an adventurous heir who returns to 1814 London after 12 years in Africa and goes to war with the powerful East India Company, his former employer, over land that he owns that the company wants. The show explores the corruption of early-19th century British society and has an expensive-but-dirty vibe Peaky Blinders fans will recognize. As is the case with everything Tom Hardy does, there's a touch of madness to Taboo; Delaney might be able to do magic and also might be in an incestuous relationship with his half-sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin). According to Steven Knight, a second season is still in the works, though he and Hardy are both so busy that there's no timeline for when it will happen.
Gritty thriller Animal Kingdom is not a period piece, but it is about a crime family whose members are all blood related, which qualifies it as being like Peaky Blinders. The Codys are a gang based in Oceanside, California, that's run by Smurf (Ellen Barkin), who's one of the only TV characters capable of giving Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) a run for her money in the tough-as-nails matriarch department. Speaking of Polly, her son Michael — also known as actor Finn Cole — plays Animal Kingdom's point-of-view character J Cody, Smurf's grandson who joins the family business after the death of his mother. The show is based on a 2010 Australian film, and, like Peaky Blinders, recently ended after six seasons. [Shows like Animal Kingdom]
If you're in the mood for another crime drama period pace, you should check out The Alienist, which only sounds like a science fiction show. Based on a series of novels by author Caleb Carr, It's set in 1890s New York City, where a serial killer is preying on society's most vulnerable. In an effort to catch the killer, NYPD commissioner Teddy Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty) tasks three people he trusts — Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl), an alienist (which we would now call a psychologist), John Moore (Luke Evans), a newspaper illustrator, and Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), his secretary. Season 2, subtitled Angel of Darkness, finds the team solving another mystery involving a Spanish consul's kidnapped daughter. It's a Victorian murder mystery that doesn't quite live up to its potential, but it's well-acted and beautifully shot.
Another crime drama about an intergenerational criminal outfit trying to hold on to its place in the world, Son of Anarchy follows the titular California outlaw motorcycle club, who are pretty much the Peaky Blinders in a different time and place. Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) is the show's Tommy Shelby, a stoic tough guy who's always trying to do what's best for his family, even if it means going legit or pissing people off. SoA ended in 2014, the year after Peaky Blinders premiered, and its influence on the later show is very evident, from the characterization to the way the gang interacts with other ethnic gangs to the distinctive wardrobes (leather biker vests known as "cuts" on SoA, flat caps and suits on Peaky Blinders). They share a cast member in Tommy Flanagan, who plays Tommy's father Arthur Shelby on Peaky Blinders and IRA-connected biker Chibs Telford on Sons of Anarchy. [Shows like Sons of Anarchy]
This action-packed British series is like a modern-day Peaky Blinders with the intensity torqued even higher. It's about a power struggle between various international criminal organizations in London after the city's most powerful underworld figure, Finn Wallace (Colm Meaney), is assassinated. His son, Sean (Joe Cole, also known as Peaky Blinders' John Shelby), is fighting to take his father's place and keep things from spiraling out of control while he tries to figure out who killed him. Meanwhile, an undercover cop named Elliot Finch (Sope Dirisu) is infiltrating the Wallace syndicate. Gangs of London is co-created, executive-produced, and directed by Gareth Evans, the action maestro behind The Raid franchise, so its fight scenes are even more bone-crunching and exciting than the ones on Peaky Blinders. Season 2 is coming this year.
If your favorite part of Peaky Blinders is simply watching famous people with accents act the hell out of a crime drama, you'll enjoy Kin, a talky but riveting Irish import. It's set in present-day Dublin and tracks a war between rival organized crime families, the Kinsellas and the Cunninghams, that breaks out after a tragic, unnecessary moment of violence. The leaders of the crime families are played by Ciarán Hinds and Peaky Blinders' Aidan Gillen, with a cast that also includes great Irish actors Charlie Cox, Clare Dunne, and Sam Keeley as Gillen's character's kin, the Kinsellas.