I’m a fan of British TV series from way back. Unfortunately, today’s British TV series are dreary historical dramas with plenty of period costuming. My wife loves this stuff, which means that I have to watch it too. (Never mind how much I dislike it!) The torture began with Downton Abbey and ran through Poldark, The Crown, Call the Midwife, and others. Now Mrs. Buckler is raving about Gentleman Jack, which sounds just like Poldark. Are any good British TV series that aren’t stuck in the Victorian Era? Well, there are a few series that meet that criteria, and they are worth your effort to find and stream.
British Shows I Loved as a Kid
I used to love the British TV shows I saw on PBS during the 1980s. Back then, I accidentally discovered Dr. Who while channel surfing. (This was the original Dr. Who series decades before it became a thing.) Then came Thunderbirds and other marionette shows from the 1960s. (Supercar, Fireball XL5, etc.) And I can’t deny the comedy of Benny Hill, which was positively sublime. By the time I was a teenager, I enjoyed watching The Young Ones reruns on MTV. It dug the idea that I was the only one at school who knew these shows existed. (For some reason, I can picture Stuart Sweet being a similar TV snob in his youth.)
When Mrs. Buckler and I were dating, she told me that she liked British TV shows. I thought that was cool… until I saw some of them. They were depressing historical melodramas set during the Victorian Era. That had to be the most judgmental time in Britain’s history. I swear, if the characters didn’t die on the battlefield, they risked losing their place in high society. At least she introduced me to Absolutely Fabulous, aka Ab Fab, which offered some much-needed comic relief.
The British Shows We Watch Now…
I’m glad that there are some current British TV series that aren’t historical dramas. Netflix’s After Life is the first that comes to mind. Created by and starring comedian Ricky Gervais, this Netflix TV series tackles some serious topics in a modern-day setting. The show follows Tony (Gervais), who is grieving the death of his wife. After briefly contemplating suicide, Tony decides to make other people miserable instead. What I like about this show is that it makes you root for Tony while simultaneously being disgusted with how he treats others.
Another show we’re watching Showtime’s Episodes. It’s not fully British; it’s more what I would call “British-adjacent.” In other words, it’s an American-British TV comedy that stars actors from both sides of the pond. It’s about the troubles a British couple face while bringing their hit TV series to American network TV. The comedy is mined from the humorous (though likely accurate) portrayal of the narcissism that’s rampant in Hollywood. There’s a total of five seasons of comedy gold here for you to enjoy! Sure, it’s not new, but that’s what’s so nice about streaming. You can catch up on older shows and enjoy them.
Do you consider Game of Thrones a British show? Sure, it’s an HBO production, but practically all the actors are British. Either way, this amazing fantasy series will roll its last season this April. Are you’re one of those people who prides themselves on not seeing a single episode? (There’s a Facebook meme for that.) Well, recommend you get HBO Go so you catch up just in time for the last seasons. We’ll have some exciting episode coverage from a new guest writer here on the Solid Signal blog!
Take a look at the season eight trailer and try telling me you don’t want to see this awesome show:
Was I Too Harsh on British Historical Dramas?
While I certainly have my opinions, I also have my doubts. Was I a bit too harsh on my wife’s favorite British historical dramas? Am I missing out on some great TV by avoiding these shows like the plague? I honestly don’t know, which is why I’m asking you. If you like shows such as Poldark, The Crown, or Call the Midwife, perhaps you could tell me what makes them great. I’m open to having my mind changed so persuade me, streamers. I’d be willing to give Gentleman Jack a chance because Mrs. Buckler deserves a TV night without my incessant griping.