Best Netflix shows that inspire your vintage style
Nov 14, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
I personally love new things that pay tribute to the past. I find in addition to literature, television shows and movies are great resources for new inspiration. (And an entertaining way to learn a bit about history in the meantime.) So in that spirit, I’ve picked my top five modern shows that take us back in time. These are the best Netflix shows I’m thankful for right now and you may feel grateful too (it’s always helpful to have a fresh alternative to the usual football and feast on lazy November days)!
I’d love to hear from you – what’s on your watch list? Share with us in the comments…
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
I cannot get enough of this Australian program! I inhaled the second season the moment it got added. While it’s easy to love the fashion, I also love this as a period piece. Seeing women struggle with obstacles I’ve never even considered makes me appreciate how far we’ve come as a society. In one episode it’s shocking to think about women driving unaccompanied by a man, while in another women face the reality of giving up financial freedom for love (and marriage), and of course there is ongoing tension surrounding what a woman should be allowed to do. As a global citizen I recognize a lot of places have a long way to come to be more evolved. Given the timing of this post, it’s fitting to give thanks for the progress we’ve made and work hard to help others make those same strides.
If you’re looking for a role model to achieve just that, look no further than our lady detective, the Honorable Phryne Fisher. A thoroughly “modern” woman, she bravely tackles adventure, murder suspects, and other people’s ignorance with ease and grace. She paves the way for a future where women don’t have to sacrifice a sense of style to be taken seriously. Phyrne stands toe to toe with her male peers, never doubting her intelligence and contributions. She’s just the kind of wonder woman I admire.
For my book club pals, you’ll be interested to know the series is based on a set of novels by Kerry Greenwood.
I’m sad to learn that this series will not be returning for a third season. Why do my favorites always get cancelled prematurely?? Sigh. This show is a lot of fun to watch. Again, the parade of fashion is a treat. But the development of our main character, Denise, is perhaps even more rewarding to witness. She starts out as a quiet country girl, trying to find work in 1875 England. Denise gets a position at the first department store, The Paradise, and her fate takes a dramatic turn.
Interactions between Denise and the mysteriously moody owner, John Moray, become more and more intriguing as the series develops. She quickly proves herself a rising star – much more than a simple shop assistant. In a world where retail seems so steady and static, it’s neat to be transported to a time when every idea was new. I can’t help but think of the legacy of Selfridge as I watch Denise mastermind her latest plan.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot
I have loved this show for as long as I can remember – nestling into pajamas, getting to stay up late to watch Masterpiece Mystery! As the Gorey animations passed by on the screen, I settled in to see the great Belgian detective at work. His intellectual prowess was legendary and his calculating style was complemented by the support of Miss Lemon, the kind helpfulness of Captain Hastings, and the criticisms of Chief Inspector Japp.
The stories this program is based on are intriguing mysteries, but one of my favorite things about the show is the attention to detail. Every element is pure Art Deco perfection. From the fashion, to the architecture, to the furniture, and the cars… it’s amazing to be immersed in that world.
This Canadian series takes place during WWII, focusing on the daily efforts of women working in the bomb-making factories. It’s a great peek into the everyday, a look into the responsibilities that are tended to while chaos ensues. The show deals with issues of class, tension between men who went off to fight and those who stayed behind, and the constant grappling with the fact that after such a traumatic first war, a second global conflict has emerged.
The thing I love about this show is the very thing I dislike. It does not shy away from the tough stuff. In the first episode, when a work place accident happens – the camera doesn’t flinch. This chilling portrayal was initially hard for me to deal with, but it’s critical to press on. The story this show is relaying is too important and it walks the line between entertainment and reality brilliantly.
North and South
I am a sucker for a great romance and this program delivers on all counts. Based on the 1885 novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, it tells the tale of Margaret Hale, a kind and generous woman from the South of England, and John Thornton, a seemingly tough cotton mill owner.
Their love story develops over the course of several tragedies. Remember, this was the fledgling hour of the Industrial Revolution. Work place deaths were very common and worker’s rights was a relatively new idea. It’s interesting to see our two main characters navigate their feelings when they stand opposed on various political and social issues. As they gain more life experience, they each find themselves thinking about things from new perspectives. I love how this story is about two people who work through issues independently, but come together at the end – not because it’s expected or a case of opposites attract, but because of a mutual respect and appreciation for the other’s journey.