I had the realization that all of the shows I was binge watching took place around the same time (mid-to-late 1800s) and dealt with some of the same issues (railroad, Civil War).
It seems only fair that I rank them, so here is my favorite to least favorite:
- Hell on Wheels: Andy and I watched all five seasons of this show. It definitely suffers from some stereotypes (former Confederate soldier, Irish immigrants, the West), but the story is really interesting. There are real people, most significantly Thomas Durant, mixed in with the characters. My favorite aspect of this show is the cinematography. There are some incredibly beautiful scenes, some of which I remember years later. I can’t say that for very many TV shows. Of the three shows, this has the most violence and some particularly brutal scenes.
- Mercy Street: it’s sort of a medical show, so that definitely earns points. Plus, it’s set in Virginia! There are scenes that must have been shot outside of the Virginia Capitol Building, which was the capitol of the Confederacy. My grad school labs were walking distance from both the capitol and the White House of the Confederacy. Anyway, back to the show…I always love medical dramas. This one will make you appreciate modern medicine in a whole new way. There’s also the requisite inter-personal drama and tensions between the North and the South, but it’s done pretty well. This airs on PBS, so it’s not as violent as Hell on Wheels. There are some fairly bloody operations though, so if that makes you squeamish, be warned.
- Victoria: it really pains me to put this as my least favorite. I love Jenna Coleman and the costuming on this show is AMAZING, but there’s something about it that I just don’t really enjoy. There are plenty of historical inaccuracies; I’m not going to get in to them, but you can find lots of blogs devoted to that. Rufus Sewall (Lord Melbroune) is a high point. Tom Hughes (Prince Albert) is a low point. Just not feeling the chemistry between Victoria and Albert. Jenna Coleman (Queen Victoria) often comes off as a petulant child, although that might be accurate. I don’t know as much about British history.
That’s my quick round up. I’m trying to find other shows to really enjoy; lately Blue Bloods has gotten most of my attention. Of course, I’m always looking for more!