If you love Outlander, these five romantic TV shows, with or without nudie scenes, have the same dramatic thrills, set against a gorgeous backdrop in the United Kingdom.
Recently I had a conversation with a casual fan of Outlander (I count anyone who hasn’t read the books as “casual”) about how much she liked the show for its romantic appeal. Sure, she loved the history and the action, as well as the beautiful locations in Scotland, but it’s the incredible relationship between Claire and Jamie Fraser that kept her watching. However, she, and millions of other Outlander fans, get very frustrated during Droughtlander, when the show is on hiatus. Waiting for new episodes is painful!
To help her get through the sans Outlander period, I recommended watching other romantic TV shows. I sent her a quick email with a list of romantic TV shows she could stream or download, and then I thought, maybe there are other Outlander fans suffering from the same Droughtlander pain. So, I offer a list of romantic TV shows to watch if you’re missing Outlander, some of which are mini-series.
In Poldark, Ross Poldark comes home to Cornwall, England after fighting in the Revolutionary War. The property he inherited from his dead father is in shambles. The woman he was to marry is now married to his cousin. He faces challenges in a failing economy to get his farm productive again, so he can take care of his tenants and either win back the woman he loves, or find another to love.
Outlander factors: Filming locations in the United Kingdom; takes place in the 18th Century.
Cast connections: Aidan Turner (pictured above) played Kili in The Hobbit with Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal on Outlander.
Reign follows Mary Stuart’s story as she becomes Mary, Queen of Scots. Reign isn’t about historical accuracy as much as it is the drama surrounding Mary’s rise to power, and her tragic end. Because Mary, and everyone else at the time, was so young, it’s generally billed as a teen drama. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the intrigue and romance.
Outlander factors: History of Scotland; filming locations in Scotland.
Cast connections: Craig Parker, who plays Lord Narcisse, starred in Spartacus: War of the Damned with Manu Bennett, who played Azog in The Hobbit, with Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal on Outlander.
Charles II has just been restored to the throne in England. On the other side of the Atlantic, colonists are working to stake their claim on the land by battling American Indians. The revolution is on the horizon. New Worlds follows Beth, Hope, Abe and Ned in and out of relationships while they’re struggling with the realities of changing politics. While there’s a good bit of violence, there’s also a lot of romance between the four main cast members.
Outlander factors: History of the United Kingdom; filming locations in the United Kingdom.
Cast connections: None, but Jamie Dornan (second from left, above) stars in Fifty Shades of Grey, which includes Rachel Skarsten, who stars in Reign.
In a fictional English town called Middlemarch, Dr. Lydgate wants to establish a hospital. Dorothea Brooke is promised to marry Rev. Edward Casaubon, who is less than an ideal match. The industrial revolution is coming, but many of Middlemarch’s residents are desperately holding onto the old ways. If you enjoy a good story about unrequited romance, this is the mini-series for you.
Outlander factors: Takes place in the 18th Century; filming locations in the United Kingdom.
Cast connections: None, but Jonathan Firth who plays Fred Vincy starred in the Highlander TV series in 1997.
Although Rome has nothing to do with Jacobites or World War II, there are similarities to Outlander. Rome is about Julius Caesar, his family and his political struggles, as well as his adopted successor, Octavian Augustus. Rome depicts daily life, as well as the tension between the classes, how they worshiped, and of course, how they loved.
Outlander factors: Historical fiction; examination of a transitional time in an empire; strong thread of spirituality.
Cast connections: Tobias Menzies, who stars as Marcus Junius Brutus, plays Frank Randall / Black Jack Randall in Outlander.
An English sailor, John Blackthorne, finds himself wrecked in Japan in the 16 Century. He arrives in the middle of a war and must not only prove himself to his hosts, but choose a side and learn to fight like a Samurai. Of course, there is a woman he falls in love with, but who is forbidden. Shogun aired in 1980 and completely captured my pre-pubescent imagination.
Outlander factors: Historical fiction; fish out of water scenario; love between two people from different countries and culture.
Cast connections: None, but John Rhys-Davies, who plays Vasco Rodrigues in Shogun, played Gimli, a dwarf, in the Lord of the Rings movies, like Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal McKenzie in Outlander, played in The Hobbit movies.
I hope one or more of these romantic TV shows gets you through Droughtlander!
Thanks for reading! Click here to download a free Outlander cheat sheet with an episode guide, cast list and chronological reading order.