As chocolate or being next to the people we love would tickle just the right pleasure centers in our brains, so do good books, great movies and unforgettable series. So much so that we convince ourselves to “watch just one more episode” before going to bed, regardless of how tired we may be or how much work there is to be done the following day. And there are such shows that create binge-like behavior in even the most well-organized of us, when we devour season upon season of perfectly crafted art. Some of the best such historical series are listed below, so if you haven’t gotten around to watching them, we’d be betting our hats you will in the near future.
1. The Sopranos
Although countless contenders have appeared as years went by, it’s unanimously accepted that The Sopranos is the best TV Drama of all time. The story revolves around Tony Soprano, an Italian mobster living with his family in New-Jersey and the difficulties he must face in order to achieve the perfect balance between his criminal organization and his family. Even though it may seem that the series used the recurrent mobster motive (as seen in The Godfather or Goodfellas), it manage to surprise viewers with a unique character (a mass-murderer who was afraid of his wife, his therapist and his mother as well as a concerned father), realism and a viewpoint that is clearly not that of a script editor.
2. Boardwalk Empire
Another history based series is Boardwalk Empire, a period drama set in the Prohibition Era. Based on Enoch L. Johnson, a political figure who was the undisputed boss that controlled Atlantic City, the series has received unending acclaim not just because of Steve Buscemi’s marvelous performance, but also because of the visual style and base in historical figures. This Golden Globe winner series is certainly worth your time.
This Canadian-Irish historical drama has been gathering attention since its debut on the 3rd of March 2013 on History Channel. The series is inspired by the life of Ragnar Lothbrok, a notorious Danish hero that starts off as a farmer but rises to fame after several successful raids into England. Filmed in Ireland, it shows the wild and wooly nature of the Norse sagas and creates characters so enthralling it’s almost impossible to stop watching.
4. The Tudors
At the time of its premiere (back in April 2007), The Tudors was the highest-rated Showtime drama to debut in the last three years. Centered around king Henry the VIII of England, this historical drama will exceed your expectations with breathtaking costumes, sets, fiery acting and exquisite music. Although many critics disapproved the historical inaccuracies, the series has more than redeemed itself with scorchingly authentic performances that make it more than worth your time.
5. The Borgias
When ShowTime sets off to create a historical drama, it seems they go to any lengths in order to ensure they produce only the best of art. As with The Tudors, The Borgias was another such series that was set around prominent European historical figures-this time the Borgia family and Pope Alexander VI played by Jeremy Irons. Critics described the show as being “almost addictively entertaining” and while it was met with so much enthusiasm, ShowTime decided to cancel the show after 3 seasons due to enormous production costs.
Such a countdown wouldn’t have been complete without one of the best historical series to date- Spartacus. This New Zeeland historical drama aired on Starz television surprised viewers at first with its raw, visceral scenes including sex and violence. The context behind these scenes was however much more profound. Based on the story of the gladiator Spartacus, the series had to deal with more than just renewal fear. The leading actor, Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and finally died as a result of his illness, so the series was continued with Liam McIntyre as Spartacus in seasons two and three. The plot is full of twists, the performances are only out staged by the athletic cast and the characters and relationships are so complex that you are missing out tremendously if you have not seen this series.