Monday, January 14, 2013

The Wiggery! My ten favorite costume Dramas

North & South PosterAhhh the lavish costumes, the funny talking, the romance, the wiggery.  I truly adore a good so-called costume drama and below are ten of my favorites from  television. 

North and South

 Based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1854 novel.  My over the top love for this miniseries can mostly be attributed to Richard “oh my goodness gracious me, can he brood like a champ” Armitage as John Thornton.  The rest of the cast is great as well including the first of three appearances on this list by Brendan Coyle.  A heart melting romance wrapped up in some interesting depiction of life in an early industrial town circa 1850’s. 

The Buccaneers

This miniseries is based on a great but unfinished novel by Edith Wharton (published in 1937, set in the 1870’s).  Four noveau riche American girls take the British nobility by storm, landing marriages of variable prestige.  Their romantic notions of marriage and the British aristocracy are slowly crushed.  It’s fantastic and difficult at times to watch.

Pride and Prejudice

I have a somewhat controversial preference for the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (but that will likely get its own essay) but this is a truly fabulous 6 hours of television.  Jennifer Ehle will always be who I picture when I think of Elizabeth Bennet and Julie Sawalha embodies Lydia.  And the costumes are divine.

Lark Rise to Candleford

A delicious dish heaped high with sentimentality in a way that makes the cockles of my heart glow.  A great cast (Brendan Coyle and Julie Sawalha again with the addition of Claudie Blakley) helps elevate the tone and give it some really nice affecting moments.  I’d also really like to be Dorcas Lane (Julie Sawalha), please.

Anne of Green Gables/ Anne of Avonlea

Ask my friends how obsessed I was with these two miniseries as a young woman  - I’ve made pretty much all my close friends sit through a marathon.  If Dorcas Lane is who I look up to now, Anne is who my younger self wanted to be - the plucky orphan who excels through intelligence and a fierce devotion to being who she is even when it lands her in all kinds of jams.  

Wives and Daughters

Another mini-series based on an Elizabeth Gaskell novel.  Is a nice portrait of a father-daughter relationship.  Again some great actors – Justine Waddell, Keeley Hawes, Michael Gambon – and some lovely romance all wrapped up in family drama.

Bleak House

Gillian Anderson is mesmerizing in this fantastic adaptation of the Dickens classic. 

Little Dorrit

More classic Dickens, chock full of quirky Dickens’ characters.  Mathew MacFadyen , whom I greatly admire, plays Arthur Clennam who is trying to make everything right for the Dorrit clan. 


This may not seem to fit, as it is not exactly genteel and there is a whole lot more cursing.  But it takes place around the same time as many of the others on this list just  in a very different setting.  So fuck all you cocksucking hoopleheads if you are not amenable to my choice of inclusion! This is a genius of a show with lots of action, drama and humor and it is scripted in an almost Shakespearean way of speaking.  It has a fantastic cast: Ian McShane, Jim Beaver, Brad Dourif, Timothy Olyphant.  This one is definitely in my top programs of all time. I am very sad we only got 3 seasons.

Downton Abbey

This program has had its ups and downs but when it is good it is so very, very good.  The level of devotion it has inspired doesn’t surprise a bit.  It succeeds at bringing the viewer into the lives of the aristocratic family that live in Downton Abbey but also the staff who serve there.  An amazing cast helps make it all come alive (Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens, Brendan Coyle)  -  you feel like you are involved in their life.   

What are your favorites? 


  1. I really need to watch Downton Abbey. I feel like I am missing out with that one.

    1. I know I can sometimes have a negative reaction when SO many people are raving about something. But this is a bandwagon that's definitely worth getting on I think. Especially the first season which is really fantabulous.