• The Empress kicked off its story with a marriage based on love, unlike many historical dramas, focusing on intrigue and romance.
  • Fans of The Empress will enjoy Sisi, Vanity Fair, and Reign, which offer similar tales of scandal, romance, and powerful female leads.
  • Cable Girls, Downton Abbey, and Call the Midwife are modern period dramas with strong female characters fighting for their rights and independence.

Historical dramas remain one of the most popular genres of television and shows like The Empress prove there are still more stories to tell from European history. Based on the life of the real Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-1898), Devrim Lingnau plays 16-year-old Elisabeth as she falls in love with and marries her sister’s intended fiancé, Emperor Franz Joseph. Released in 2022, the show was one of the most popular non-English Netflix series of the year and the streaming service immediately ordered a second season and commissioned a companion novel called The Empress: A Novel.

While seasons on Netflix are not always fast coming, the good news is that there are a lot of shows like The Empress to keep fans of the show entertained. These shows travel the range from those that are not as historically accurate, as The Empress is not, to those that actually tell historical stories from European history in a way that both entertains and educates the viewers. However, there are also shows that do what The Empress did best, and that is to entertain the viewers with a love story and high intrigue, even if the shows are not based on real events or people at all.


15 Best Netflix TV Shows Of 2023

Despite the competition, Netflix is still one of the biggest and most prestigious streaming platforms. Here are their best TV releases of 2023.

15 Sisi (2009)

1 Season, 2 Episodes

Franz Joseph and Elisabeth staring lovingly at each other in bed in Sisi

One of the most interesting shows for fans of The Empress to check out is one that focuses on the very same historical figure. Sisi is another series that looks at the life of Elisabeth of Austria. Like The Empress, the show has been noted for playing loose with actual historical facts in its storytelling but praised for being an entertaining portrait of this complex woman.

With the shows examining the same person, there might be some overlap, but that does not mean fans of The Empress will be bored watching Sisi. Both shows have different tones with Sisi sometimes being a more brutal depiction of the era and various battles. With the liberties that both shows take, it will also be interesting for fans to compare the two and see how they shape their own stories.

14 The White Princess (2017)

1 Season, 8 Episodes

The Empress kicks off its historical drama story with a marriage that is based on love rather than political benefits which is unusual for this world. Interestingly, The White Princess begins with a marriage made purely for political reasons and yet both shows end up telling a similar tale. Jodie Comer stars in The White Princess as Elizabeth of York who married Henry VII in order to end the War of the Roses. However, their marriage soon becomes one of distrust and plotting.

Like Elisabeth in The Empress, Comer’s Elizabeth is someone who wants love but finds themselves thrust into a world that sees her as a pawn. She is also strong and capable, refusing to be used, and begins to make moves of her own. It is a thrill seeing her manipulate the king, build her own allegiances, and prove herself a brilliant strategist when everyone else underestimates her.

13 Victoria (2016-2019)

3 Seasons, 25 Episodes


Jenna Coleman , Tom Hughes , Nell Hudson , Ferdinand Kingsley , Adrian Schiller

Release Date
August 28, 2016


There is something intriguing about going on a journey with a character who is being brought into such a powerful and prestigious sphere as the royal palace. Elisabeth was an unexpected choice to marry Emperor Franz Joseph and the audience gets to join her in the excitement of seeing where the journey takes her. In Victoria, the protagonist is not as surprised to come into such a power position as she was the next in the line of success, but what Queen Victoria makes sense of her new station is similarly a thrill.

Jenna Coleman gives a charming and layered performance as the young queen who inherits the throne and quickly sets about proving herself. It is another story with love and romance in the royal world, but these aspects are downplayed compared to The Empress. However, both shows deliver the gripping intrigue of those scheming behind the protagonist’s back and these powerful female leads proving themselves as powerful leaders.

12 Vanity Fair (2018)

1 Season, 7 Episodes

Vanity Fair (2018)

Olivia Cooke , Tom Bateman , Claudia Jessie , Johnny Flynn , Michael Palin

Release Date
September 2, 2018


While Elisabeth is somewhat reluctant to be brought into the world of high society intrigue and scheming, it is exciting to follow a character who forces their way into such worlds as with Vanity Fair‘s Becky Sharp. Before playing Alicent Hightower in the House of the Dragon cast, Olivia Cooke got to show a lighter side in this period drama with a comedic edge as a young woman who seduces and maneuvers her way into high social circles in which she is not always welcome.

While The Empress is not based on classic literature, the show shares some similarities with older stories of scandal, romance, and drama among affluent people. Vanity Fair is based on the novel of the same name by William Makepeace Thackeray. Though Becky and Elisabeth are very different in approach, it is a lot of fun seeing them both climb their way into positions they are “not supposed to be in”.

11 Reign (2013-2017)

4 Seasons, 78 Episodes


Adelaide Kane

Release Date
October 17, 2013


As with many shows like The Empress, Reign is a historical drama in which all the drama, scandal, and intrigue kicks off with a marriage. The CW series follows young Mary of Scots when she is selected to marry Crown Prince Francis. Being taken away from the only world she has known and thrust into the high-stakes game of politics of the palace, Mary finds that she will have to learn quickly to stay ahead of her enemies and get what she wants.

Like The Empress, Reign is not overly concerned with sticking close to historical facts and just wants to deliver soapy period drama stories. It actually shares a lot in common with modern teen dramas like Gossip Girl in that regard. However, like The Empress, it is a gripping show about an unsure young hero who finds her own strength while dealing with her husband’s scheming family.

10 The Spanish Princess (2019-2020)

1 Season, 16 Episodes

Catherine of Aragon standing in the garden in The Spanish Princess.

Part of the franchise that began with The White Princess, The Spanish Princess carries on the story based on the novels by Philippa Gregory. The historical drama follows Catherine of Aragon,the Spanish princess who became the first wife of King Henry VIII. The limited series mixes historical facts with fiction and dramatization, similar to The Empress. The series covers a large chunk of time until the end of Catherine’s marriage to Henry VIII.

Just as The Empress kicks off with a controversial marriage, The Spanish Princess explores the fallout and complications that come from the union. The show celebrates the strength of Catherine of Aragon, as she earns the King’s love and respect. The Spanish Princess excels in the many moments it captures morality and royal legacy, with Catherine playing the same role as Elisabeth, both young women learning how to navigate the throne as outsiders.

9 Cable Girls (2017-2020)

5 Season, 42 Episodes

The cast of Cable Girls looking concerned

Four women accept positions as switchboard operators in 1920s Madrid in Cable Girls which makes for a slightly more modern period drama. Each woman tries to gain her independence for various reasons in the male-dominated society, highlighting the restrictions placed on women. The characters are captivating, showing raw emotion whether watched in Spanish or dubbed in English.

Like The Empress, it tells the story of women fighting for what they want in life. In this case, the stories are beautifully written whether about supporting family, escaping high society, or starting a new life. However, unlike a lot of typical period dramas, Cable Girls is not as concerned with exploring the romantic side of the story and it’s more about these women fighting for their own rights and being at the center of their own story.

8 Bridgerton (2020-Present)

3 Seasons; 20 Episodes

Ruby Stokes, Phoebe Dyvenor, Will Tilston, Florence Emilia Hunt, Ruth Gemmell, Luke Thompson and Jonathan Bailey in Bridgerton Season 2

Not all shows like The Empress have to be about nobility and Royal Families. There are also those period pieces that are just about romance and finding love. As one of Netflix’s most popular series, the characters of Bridgerton captivate audiences by following the Bridgerton family during the marriage season. The series follows a different main character with each season.

Fans fell in love with Daphne and the Duke’s passionate love story in season 1, and Anthony and Kate’s intense attraction in season 2. Now season 3 has offered a new romance to obsess over with Colin and Penelope’s relationship becoming the focal point of the story. With eight novels in the series by Julia Quinn, there is more love and romance to come. However, like The Empress, it is also interested in using the conventions of this time period to comment on modern society and certain struggles that endure.


10 Most Exciting Things To Expect From Bridgerton Season 3, Part 2

As Bridgerton season 3, part 2 draws closer, there are many exciting things to expect from the final installment of the explosive season.

7 The Crown (2016-2023)

6 Seasons, 60 Episodes

Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth standing stoically in the hallway in The Crown.

Netflix delivered one of the most successful historical dramas with The Crown, following the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding to Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, to the 21st century. Considering the subject is more recent, the series does an amazing job of capturing the period with elaborate sets and well-written characters to mirror real-life historical figures. The show took audiences through various moments in history and key figures, with three actors playing the Queen over The Crown‘s six seasons.

As with The Empress, the series isn’t always historically accurate, with minor details added for exceptional storytelling. The Crown offers a glimpse into the historical significance of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, while The Empress focuses on a lesser-known tale yet still explores the impact of the real-life figures at the center of its story.

6 Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

6 Seasons, 52 Episodes

Close up of Mary and Henry looking at each other in Downton Abbey

Set in the early 20th century, the lives of the Crawley family and their domestic servants are on full display in Downton Abbey. Historical events, like the sinking of the Titanic and the Spanish flu, lend significance to the storylines as the British social hierarchy begins to change. Like The Empress, this showed the entry into the high class and also featured strong women dealing with class, culture, and politics.

It is also a witty historical drama with an all-star cast, including Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville. It’s an addicting soap opera wrapped in beautiful costumes, a lush setting, and perfect pacing. Both shows enjoyed exploring the unexpected and sometimes scandalous relationships that would emerge in these affluent circles. The show’s popularity remains years later thanks to two movies with a final Downton Abbey movie recently announced.

5 Call The Midwife (2012-Present)

13 Seasons, 113 Episodes

The cast of Call the Midwife poses for a photo.

Even shows that are set in more recent history can provide the same kind of period story as The Empress which transports viewers to an engrossing bygone era. Call the Midwife follows a group of nurse midwives in the slums of London in the 1950s and ’60s. The series tackles serious social subjects of the time period, including the baby boom, poverty, immigration, and serious birth defects and disorders.

What makes this different from shows like The Empress is that this takes place in gritty, working-class London, showing the heroic lives of being who are far from the comforts of palace life and unable to rely on the luxuries of loyalty. However, it is also both heartwarming and heartbreaking as the midwives show compassion in the nursing field, highlighting how far society and medicine have come since the mid-1900s. Like The Empress, it is a celebration of strong female characters overcoming adversity in a time when they struggled to have a voice.

4 The Gilded Age (2022-Present)

2 Seasons, 17 Episodes

Carrie Coon as Bertha wearing an embroidered red cloak in The Gilded Age

The tale of old money versus new money is told in The Gilded Age. Set in 1880s New York, the series is a unique historical drama set in America rather than the genre-typical Europe. The storylines highlight the differences in social classes, providing satisfying drama surrounding money instead of just romance. It follows a family of the newly wealthy Russells who find themselves in conflict with their powerful and established neighbors, the van Rhijn family.

Much like the stories from shows like The Empress, the main focus here is the plot driven by social classes and moving up the social ladder. The Gilded Age‘s main character, Bertha Russell, has a different personality and motives compared to The Empress‘ Elisabeth, but it is thrilling to follow them both as they break into high society. The sets and costumes are visually stunning and fans of shows like The Empress will not be disappointed.

3 Versailles (2015-2018)

3 Seasons, 30 Episodes

George Blagden standing in the middle of a ballroom with his arms spread in Versailles.

While England is usually the topic of most historical dramas that are enjoyed by mainstream audiences, The Empress and Versailles are both reminders that there are riveting historical stories from all over the world to be told. The French historical drama Versailleschronicles the construction of the Palace of Versailles as the nobility disobeys the monarchy of King Louis XIV. The series has everything viewers would expect: plotting, opulence, and violence. The King struggles to build his empire while French nobles scheme against him.

Though there are a handful of sex scenes, the focus of the story isn’t entirely romantic. Mostly, Versailles is about building a successful empire and feeding both material and sensual desires. Also, like shows like The Empress, it is about a sibling rivalry, this one between Louis XIV and his brother Philippe I, the Duke of Orleans.

2 The Great (2020-2023)

3 Seasons, 30 Episodes

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great flanked by men with guns in The Great.

Historical comedy-drama The Great is loosely based on the rise of Catherine the Great from her youth to her marriage to Emperor Peter III of Russia. The series is not to be taken seriously. Though The Great has some historically accurate details, it is satirical and funny. Created by Tony McNamara who wrote the Oscar-winning period movie The Favorite, The Great features that similar darkly comedic tone while not being overly concerned with getting every aspect of history correct.

With plenty of backstabbing and hypocrisy, the dialogue is witty and Elle Fanning’s portrayal of Catherine the Great is playful and quirky. It might play the comedy more than The Empress, but the idea of a young girl finding her place in the world of Royal Families remains very similar. The Great is a lighthearted, fun whirlwind that will have viewers addicted and waiting for more.

1 Harlots (2017-2019)

3 Seasons, 24 Episodes

Charlotte Wells on Harlots.

Hulu’s Harlots is a fresh take on period dramas, focusing on a London brothel in the 1700s. With strong rivalries with other brothels and evangelism on the rise threatening sex work, Madam Margaret Wells strives to give her family a better life through business or through marriage. Despite their very different positions in society, Margaret and Elisabeth share a similar strength and determination that make them the heart of their respective series.

Unlike shows like The Empress, this is not based on royalty at all, but it still offers a chance for women to find and demand holding the place they deserve. While Elisabeth battles an antagonistic family she married into, the focus on Harlots is on backstabbing, politics, and romance, mixed with corruption, racism, and religion. The men are mere side characters in the women-driven series.

Source link