Calling all history geeks! If you’re like me and the millions of other history buffs out there, you’ve probably got a long list of your favorite historical TV shows. Sometimes they are the retellings of true stories. Other times, they place you in a historical time period, but introduce you to fictional characters, and place them in a very real environment that once existed. With TV genres expanding and new shows popping up every day, it can be hard to track down that one show that really sparks your interest. In case you need a new obsession, check out some of the greatest current TV shows for those of us who just love a good dose of history with our entertainment.
Image Credit: Hell On Wheels/AMC
First, there’s my personal favorite, AMC’s Hell On Wheels. It doesn’t get better than cowboys, violence, and great screenwriting. Hell On Wheels takes you into the post-Civil War era of the United States, and tells the tale of Cullen Bohannon, a widower and former soldier with a thirst for vengeance and new beginnings. The ups and downs of the series are sure to keep you guessing and coming back for more drama and action each week. Don’t assume any of your favorite characters are ever completely safe. As the show enters its fifth and final season, do some catching up and enjoy this great Western show in our modern era. If Hell On Wheels is any indication of the potential for great western storytelling, then hopefully we’ll get more shows like it in the future.
Image Credit: Turn: Washinton’s Spies/AMC
If Western’s aren’t your thing, but you want to stick to the U.S.A., how about some Revolutionary War drama? Turn: Washington’s Spies is another AMC show that brings historical facts into the forefront of a fictional story of espionage and treason during the most drastic time in American history. As British soldiers and armed forces try to dismantle the strong-willed American resistance, you’ll fall in love with characters on both sides of the fight. Best of all, it’s all based on a true story of American espionage. Despite some creative side stories, it all really happened. There’s still plenty of time to catch up and join in the other happy viewers with the second season just ending. Be careful. You never know who to trust.
Image Credit: Vikings/History
If American history isn’t your cup of tea, what about Viking lore? Yep! Broadswords, hammers, shields, and exploration. The Vikings Era is one that history geeks will definitely want to immerse themselves in and learn more about. Try out History’s Vikings, which tells the tale of Ragnar Lothbrok and his family as they make the trek from their Viking homelands to the alien shores of England and beyond. The brutality of the fight scenes, the richness of the culture, and the dramatic acting should have your attention from the get-go. Three seasons down (and hopefully many more to come), there’s still time for you to catch up. For Odin’s sake, just check it out.
Image Credit: Marco Polo/Netflix
For some, the search continues. How about a peek inside the history of the Mongolian Empire and the famous name we all associate with swimming pool games? Of course, we’re speaking of Netflix’s Marco Polo, which made its premiere late last year and has already been renewed for a second season. This interesting show has been met with debate: some find it fun and exciting, others find it boring. But what Marco Polo does is it takes historical influence and meshes it with the grander themes of modern TV fantasy, similar to the realm of Game of Thrones and others. Whether you love it or hate it, this show takes a deep interpretation of the Khan Dynasty, the Mongol Empire, and blends a mix of modern storytelling into a very unique and intriguing ride through history.
Image Credit: Outlander/Starz
While we’re pretty sure some of you have heard of this last show, we had to include it on our list of great geeky historical shows. Outlander premiered on Starz last year and hit the ground running. It hasn’t slowed in ratings. Its blend of historical accuracy and science fiction has made it a safe haven for geeks of all interests. Taking time-travel out of the equation, Outlander is a great representation of life in 1740s Scotland, and the battle for independence from British rule. Love stories, action, and science fiction make this a great choice for any history buff looking for that new and exciting show to get their hands on. Definitely check it out, and make sure you finish season one before the premiere of season 2 next year!
What makes historically accurate TV shows so great isn’t just the realism and the educational aspects, but rather the exquisite attention to detail and creative spin that are often associated with them. Usually, a historical show has a great cast, excellent story, and can make even the expected events shocking and exciting. Just like a great fantasy show like Game of Thrones, or an awesome space adventure like Firefly, sometimes history packs a punch that even the geekiest of us can appreciate.
Featured Image Credit: Turn: Washinton’s Spies/AMC