Bridgerton became one of Netflix's biggest hits when it was released on Christmas Day 2020, hooking fans through its mix of a traditional period romance drama with premium cable's lax rules for how much clothes actors should wear and producer Shonda Rhimes' sense of D-R-A-M-A. The steamy romance set in the 1800s was so big, that it was already renewed for a fourth season before the second season has even aired. By now it's a safe bet that you've seen all of Season 1 and are keeping up on the latest gossip about Season 2 — including actor Regé-Jean Page's sad departure from the show. But while you wait for Bridgerton's return, what should you watch next?
We've curated a list of shows that feature many of the elements found in Bridgerton, like the sexiness of lustful hookups, copious amounts of scandal and gossip, and the surprisingly modern tone of historical dramas reworked for today's audiences.
Looking for more recommendations of what to watch next? We have a ton of them! We also have recommendations for the best stand-up specials on Netflix and best comedy shows to binge-watch in a weekend.
It turns out that 100 years after the events of Bridgerton, people were still horny in England. Amazon Prime Video's The Pursuit of Love is a three-episode miniseries written and directed by Emily Mortimer that stars Lily James and Emily Beecham as cousins and BFFs who come of age between the World Wars and drool over boys together, despite their wildly different personalities. Like many period pieces recently -- especially Bridgerton -- The Pursuit of Love is injected with modern sensibilities and zippy energy (Andrew Scott's character is introduced like he's the second coming of David Bowie), as well as an anachronistic soundtrack featuring New Order, T. Rex, and more. The lust of Bridgerton isn't nearly as present in The Pursuit of Love as it settles for crushes and chooses friendship over romance as its main focus, but the emotions are still there. [Watch on Amazon Prime Video]
The show on this list that's probably most like Bridgerton -- on paper, at least -- is the new Spanish series The Cook of Castmar, which debuted on Netflix in July 2021 after airing in its native country earlier in the year. Both shows are set in the days of wigs and extravagant dress (Castamar is set in 1720 Madrid, Bridgerton is set in 1813 London), and both are awfully frisky, with lust the preferred hobby of its wealthy, privileged characters. In The Cook of Castamar, a duke mourning the loss of his wife finds solace in a new cook who begins working in the manor's kitchen. She's an agoraphobe -- she's scored of open spaces and the outdoors -- so hopefully they get it on inside. While the sex in The Cook of Castamar is plentiful, there's a lot less actual nudity, so if that's what you're looking for, you might leave unsatisfied. [Watch on Netflix]
Hulu's The Great is a, uhh, great follow-up to Bridgerton, particularly if you're into the unexpected humor of Bridgerton. The series comes from screenwriter Tony McNamara, who previously proved that period pieces could be fun with his Oscar-nominated script for the film The Favourite, and follows a young Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) as she's shipped to Russia to marry Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) and ultimately overthrow him and rule on her own when her fantasies of a royally good time are crushed. It's not as steamy as Bridgerton, but it is a whole lot funnier, especially Hoult, who shines as the spoiled doofus bro emperor. [Watch on Hulu]
If corsets and puffy shirts (and the process of lustily tearing them off in a fit of horniness) get your juices flowing, then it's hard to top the steamy romance of Starz's Outlander. The adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's novels was gobbled up by rabid fans when it premiered in 2014, all eager to see pure-chunk-of-hunk Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a Scottish Highlander in the 1740s, grab World War II nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) in his arms and re-enact cover photos of romance novels that you see in the airport. A World War II nurse in the 1740s, you say? Yes, Outlander also has a bit of time-traveling sci-fi thrown into the mix, as Claire and Jamie's romance cannot be contained by the space-time continuum. The whole series (five seasons so far, with a sixth upcoming) is on Starz, while earlier seasons are on Netflix. [Watch on Netflix, Starz, Hulu (with Starz add-on), Amazon Prime (with Starz add-on)]
Bridgerton is full of sex, scandal, and ladder-climbing, but what keeps it all chugging along is the voiceover from the anonymous Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews), who ramps up the pearl-clutching by feeding the town gossip in the form of a newsletter that tracks all the lasciviousness and comings and goings of high society. Her ability to influence the actions of the characters on screen is reminiscent of the Nosy Parker of The CW's Gossip Girl, a tittle-tattle who ran a blog that recounted the ins and outs of wealthy high school socialites in Manhattan. Bridgerton was wise to mimic the Gossip Girl device, as it constantly puts pressure on its characters to impress, or fail spectacularly trying to do so, while also providing a sip of mystery in determining who the narrator is. Gossip Girl is also worth a watch as it catapulted its young cast -- Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford, Ed Westwick, and more -- to stardom. [Watch on HBO Max]
Jane Austen isn't the only author whose influence is plainly seen in Bridgerton. William Makepeace Thackeray took shots at British high society in his 1847 serial Vanity Fair, which was adapted by Amazon Prime Video in 2018's delightful seven-episode series of the same name. Less about the sex and more about the efforts of advancing among the elite, Vanity Fair stars Olivia Cooke as Becky Sharp, an extremely cunning and charming young woman who upends every idea of what a lady should be at the time as she elbows her way to the top, and Cooke is an absolute treasure in the role. Of course, Becky's plans get complicated when her heart gets in the way, thanks to leading man Tom Bateman. [Watch on Amazon Prime Video]
If Bridgerton was your first binge of a period piece that's been unstuffed from the rigid stuffiness of the typical old-timey drama, then Apple TV+'s Dickinson is like a direct wormhole between today's millennials and 19th century author Emily Dickinson. Emily, played by the wonderful up-and-comer Hailee Steinfeld, has aspirations to become a famous writer, while her traditional parents (Toby Huss and Jane Krakowski) prefer she settle down and be a housewife. The timeless story and era-appropriate clothing and sets are injected with modernity through present-day music (full on blasting tracks, not the undercover string quartet covers that Bridgerton did) and dialogue (pretty sure they didn't say "stoked" back then), adding a fresh coat of paint to a genre otherwise reserved for the olds. Also of extreme importance, Wiz Khalifa appears as Emily's obsession, Death. [Watch on Apple TV+]
Another period drama about love in 1800s England, HBO's Gentleman Jack thankfully shows an alternative to the heteronormative romance and sexuality that dominates many of the other shows on this list. In a stirring performance, Suranne Jones portrays Anne Lister, a real historical figure who was a prominent landowner and industrialist. She also happened to be a lesbian, and courts her fellow landowner Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) while recording the courtship through a series of cryptic messages that only she can decode. The first season premiered in 2019 on HBO, with a second season coming soon. [Watch on HBO Max, Hulu (with HBO Max add-on), Amazon Prime Video (with HBO add-on)]
If it's sweeping romance with British accents that you're looking for, PBS's Poldark, with its endless sunsets, waves crashing on many rocky shores, and horseback rides along countless beaches, fits the bill. If it's a ridiculously handsome man with ripped abs walking shirtless out of the ocean that you also want, well, Poldark has that too. The series, now five seasons in, stars Aidan Quinn as Captain Ross Poldark, a Revolutionary War veteran who, after he was believed to have perished in the fight, returns home to Cornwall to find his girlfriend engaged to his cousin (oops) and his father dead. The series, based on Winston Graham's novels, moves at a blistering pace as Poldark rebuilds his life and finds new love and more reasons to take his shirt off. [Watch on Amazon Prime Video]
Obviously Bridgerton isn't Shonda Rhimes' first shot at television, but instead of checking into Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, or How to Get Away With Murder, get embroiled in some Scandal. Scandal was Shonda's sexiest broadcast show, starring Kerry Washington as a fixer with her own crisis-management firm whose affair with a governor (Tony Goldwyn) gets even more heated and scandalous when he becomes president of the United States. It's got all the shocks and twists you're looking for, but a little bit more murder and political machinations. [Watch on Hulu]
Bridgerton is now available on Netflix.