10 series like The Empress you must watch

October 7, 2022
Nicole Ackman 0
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We discuss 10 series like the Netflix series The Empress you must watch. Check out our recommendations!

Netflix‘s latest historical drama series is full of courtly intrigue and sumptuous gowns. The German language show might not rely much on historical accuracy, but it does provide great entertainment. It is based on the early years of Empress Elisabeth of Austria‘s reign, following her unexpected marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph and her struggles with her mother-in-law and Franz’s brother. If you’re looking for other shows full of royal drama, we’ve got you covered.

10 series like The Empress you must watch

Reign (2013-2017)

The CW’s Reign is a highly fictionalized account of Mary Stuart’s years living in France, leading up to and following her marriage to Prince Francis. Much like Elisabeth in The Empress, Mary must contend with a strong-willed mother-in-law who would prefer that her plans aren’t messed with. While it doesn’t bear much similarity to the Scottish queen’s actual life, Adelaide Kane’s wonderful performance as Mary and the beautiful (if very modern) gowns certainly make it worthwhile.

The Tudors (2007-2010)

The Tudors was perhaps the parent to all other sexy royal shows. Running for four seasons on Showtime, it chronicled Henry VIII’s six marriages. Once again with plenty of historical inaccuracies and lavish though very modern gowns, the show featured many impressive performances and more twists and turns than anyone could expect. Natalie Dormer in the role of Anne Boleyn was the most impressive part of the series, showing — like Elisabeth — how a beautiful and strong young woman could change the course of a country’s history.

Victoria (2016-2019)

ITV’s Victoria is perhaps an outlier on this list for its closer adherence to historical truth, particularly with its costuming, but it’s still another tale of a young royal woman learning to secure her place as monarch while also falling in love. The show was written by Daisy Goodwin and starred Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria with Tom Hughes as Prince Albert and Rufus Sewell as Lord Melbourne. Like Elisabeth, Victoria had to contend with a difficult relationship with her mother.

The Great (2020-Present)

The Great is essentially a campy, comedic take on this genre of shows about significant historical royal women, that eschews historical accuracy for greater entertainment. The Hulu show, which stars Elle Fanning as Empress Catherine II of Russia and Nicholas Hoult as Emperor Peter III, has been renewed for a third season. The show’s first two seasons have received great critical acclaim.

Versailles (2015-2018)

Canal+’s French series Versailles followed the early reign of Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King. Louis was one of France’s most opulent monarchs, known for his grand palace, and though the series doesn’t revolve around a woman like The Empress and the other shows on this list, it still feels similar. George Blagden played Louis, while Alexander Vlahos played his brother Philippe I, the Duke of Orléans. The show, similar to The Empress, revolves largely around their sibling dynamics.

Becoming Elizabeth (2022)

Starz’s Becoming Elizabeth is another 2022 period drama centered around a monarch named Elizabeth. This time, it’s Queen Elizabeth I of England, but unlike most films and shows about her, it’s focused on her younger years. Becoming Elizabeth, created by Anya Reiss, begins with the death of Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII, and follows her through her younger brother’s reign. Alicia von Rittberg plays Elizabeth, while Romola Garai plays her older sister Mary Tudor.

The Serpent Queen (2022-Present)

Another 2022 Starz period drama is The Serpent Queen, centered around the 16th-century French queen Catherine de Medici. Samantha Morton portrays the young royal who must navigate a court in which her husband is in love with an older woman. The show is based on Leonie Frieda’s biography Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France.


The Spanish Princess (2019-2020)

The Spanish Princess is one of the many Starz series based on books by Philippa Gregory. Developed by Emma Frost and Matthew Graham, the series focuses on Catherine of Aragon as she arrived in England to marry Prince Arthur. It follows Catherine, played by Charlotte Hope, as her first husband dies early into their marriage and she begins a relationship with his brother, the man who will become her second husband and will be known to history as King Henry VIII. Much like Elisabeth in The Empress, Catherine must learn to navigate a court in which she is an outsider.

The White Queen (2013)

Another Philippa Gregory Starz series, The White Queen follows three royal women — Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville — as they each try to manipulate events. The series was nominated for Golden Globe and Emmy Awards and earned a sequel series, The White Princess. It’s an earlier period’s look at royal life, but still demonstrates the same pressures put upon women in important positions.

Bridgerton (2020-Present)

We assume that if you’re watching The Empress, you’ve likely already seen Netflix’s main period drama offering, but we’ll recommend it anyways. While Bridgerton is not centered around its royal character (though Queen Charlotte does make an appearance), it does deal with young women trying to find love and figure out their place in a very patriarchal world. It also features gorgeous dresses and exciting balls, much like The Empress does.

Do you have any other recommendations for series like The Empress? Let us know!

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