Your TV is a time machine.
In the mood for medieval? Fond of the future? Here’s a timeline of the wealth of shows dealing with history.
Readers are always asking me to recommend something new to watch between seasons (or after the final episode) of their favorite shows. ¶ The conversation starts out being about genre (“a drama, but not too gory”; “a comedy, but not like a sitcom”), but I’ve increasingly noticed that viewers are looking for a when instead of a what — they want “something set in the 1960s” (to fill the void left by “Mad Men”) or “something medieval” (the wait for “Game of Thrones,” about an imaginary continent’s comparable Dark Age, feels interminable) or some other period piece set in a
personal sweet spot: Victorian, Edwardian, Celtic, Druid, Roman, czarist, pioneer and — always a big request — programs set before, during and after the Civil War. ¶ Don’t forget World War II, the Space Age and the Cold War. (The darling decade of the moment is the Reaganera ’80s.) And to all that, add a healthy demand for shows about the future — 50 years from now, a century from now, eons from now. ¶ Is there some larger thesis here about our discontent with presentday life in the early 21st century? Or is it just that the period pieces have improved in quality and become more believable in their details and setting? ¶ Whatever the reason, time frame and timelines seem so essential to viewers’ desires now that I’m surprised that Xfinity, DirecTV, Netflix and other providers haven’t added “sort by decade” and “sort by century” to their ondemand search options. (They can thank me later for the idea.) ¶ The 201516 TV season brings several more shows — along with those already on — that take place somewhen other than right now. Squeeze into my time machine and let’s see whether there’s a period that appeals to you.