17 Excellent British Period Dramas You Can Binge Right Now

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The lovely ladies of “Call the Midwife” Season 3! (Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Ford/©Neal Street Productions 2013)

Call the Midwife

This drama focuses on a group of English nurse midwives and nuns working in London’s East End in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Their local neighborhood of Poplar is an economically disadvantaged area whose residents struggle with many of the basic necessities of life. But the midwives do their best to help, and to find joy in the work they do.

Translation: A lot of sad and tragic things happen, and this is the best show you can possibly watch if you need a good cry for some reason.

Call the Midwife is largely ensemble-based, though there are significant changes to the main cast over the course of its five seasons. Notable cast members include Jessica Raines, Miranda Hart, Pam Ferris, Judy Parfitt, Laura Main, Stephen McGann, Emerald Fennell, Charlotte Ritchie, Victoria Yeates and more.

The show frequently incorporates certain historical elements into its storylines, such as the effects of the post-World War II baby boom, the introduction of gas as a form of pain relief, and the thalidomide scandal.

Additionally, this is a very feminist sort of period drama. It’s full of interesting, varied female characters who all have their own interests and perspectives. Its stories all generally center around women, their issues and lives. And Call the Midwife doesn’t shy away from exploring controversial topics like birth control, domestic abuse, same-sex relationships and children born with disabilities. While the show is limited by the historical fact of life in 1950s England, it still handles these storylines with thoughtfulness and delicacy.

Number of seasons: 5

Where to Watch: Netflix