15 Of The Best Lesbian Period Dramas You Need To Watch Right Now

It is incredibly important about getting as much representation as possible in every genre available.

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15 Of The Best Lesbian Period Dramas You Need To Watch Right Now

However, that does not deny the fact that some genres do representation so much better than others and there is already a good backlog of content in that genre already.

One genre which has actually got more representation than some would expect is period dramas having a decent amount of lesbian representation.

Looking at a version of queer relationships in the past is a great way to see how rights have developed throughout the years and how far we have come as a society. 

While enjoying period dramas about queer relationships is a great way to see how far we have come and be glad we do not have to live in those conditions now, they are also a great way to look at the parallels and what is still consistent and present in these relationships today.

Some unique elements of queer relationships will always be universal and being able to see these in a period setting rather than a contemporary one can be incredibly refreshing.

These dramas can also be quite informative and are often a good way to learn about what made relationships of the era so unique and if any elements of these relationships are still present today.

Lesbian period dramas are popular for a reason and this is why they keep getting made, while some may want different stories to be told in different settings, it is hard not to appreciate the qualities of lots of these stories, and the unique way sapphic relationships can be presented in different periods of time.

So if you love lesbian period dramas as much as we do and want to watch more, we have collected this list of 15 of the best, so you can see some of the best examples!

Since there is such a wide array of lesbian period dramas, and they can vary so drastically in quality, this list is here to serve as a guide to help you get a selection of some of the best and work out what you want to watch next! 

So if you are looking for something new to watch and want some period lesbian representation, look no further as this list will give you all the choice you need!

Handmaiden

When Was It Released?

2016

What Is It About?

This movie is actually about a con man with the goal of marrying and seducing a rich Japanese heiress who is called Lady Hideko.

After he does this he will get her committed to an asylum with the goal of getting her inheritance from her.

To help him with this he gets a pickpocket called Sook-hee to be hired as Lady Hideko’s maid with the aim of her getting close and encouraging her to get married to the con man.

Of course the con man’s plan does not turn out as expected and this gripping plot will keep you engaged and entertained throughout its twist filled runtime.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

The best way to describe this movie is as a psychological thriller and the way the narrative develops is so worth watching.

The way the sexuality of the lead women is represented is incredibly interesting and is part of what makes this movie so engaging.

The narrative is heavily inspired by a 2002 novel by Sarah Waters called Fingersmith, with the main adaptive difference being the change in setting from Victorian Britain to Korea while it was under Japanese rule between 1910 and 1945.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* Handmaiden does have a happy ending!

Carol

When Was It Released?

2015

What Is It About?

Carol is probably one of the more well known movies on this list and for good reason with it earning Academy award nominations for both of its lead actresses.

The story is one which is not the most unique premise for a queer romance but the way it is told is what makes it so appealing.

It features the forbidden romance between leads played by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

The story tackles difficult subjects like the age difference between the leads and the difficult divorce titular Carol is going through which makes her affair even more scandalous.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

While the 1950s were by no means a perfect era, the aesthetics make a beautiful backdrop for this lesbian romance and give it an incredibly unique feel.

The aesthetic is almost nostalgic, but the subject matter makes it feel almost subversive.

The relationship between the leads is also incredibly well acted and makes it so worth watching!

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* Carol does have a happy ending!

Summerland

When Was It Released?

2020

What Is It About?

This story takes place during the Second World War in 1945, and it follows a writer called Alice Lamb who lives by herself in a seaside cottage in Kent.

However, her solitude is ruined when she is trusted to look after a young boy who has escaped the London Blitz.

The relationship between the two starts pretty rough, and it takes them a while to get to know each other, however, they start to form a strong bond as well as a friendship and through their relationship, Alice is lead back to her lost lesbian love!

Why We Think You Should Watch It

This movie is definitely not spoken about enough, and the way the romance is framed is perhaps what makes this movie so unique and so well watching.

The backdrop of Kent during the second world war is definitely unique with most lesbian period dramas avoiding this era.

The relationship between Alice and the boy she is entrusted is the heart of the movie, but having her lesbian relationship also be a focus is what makes the representation in this movie feel so heartfelt.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* Summerland does have a happy ending!

Colette

When Was It Released?

2018

What Is It About?

This is a drama which is biographical, and it takes place during the 19th century, and it follows the life of Colette who is a French novelist.

She is displayed throughout the movie to challenge boundaries both intellectual as well as sexual making her an incredibly interesting protagonist to follow.

Seeing Colette throughout her life is an intriguing narrative through line and will motivate you to work your way to the end of this masterful movie.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

Well if we told you that Keira Knightly played Colette, would that be enough to persuade you? I assume most of you will answer yes.

But just in case (somehow) that is not enough. The way Knightly plays Colette is incredibly engaging and learning to love this character throughout her interesting life is what makes this narrative so entertaining.

The 19th century setting also gives this story an interesting aesthetic backdrop making it a beautiful sight to behold.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* Colette does have a happy ending!

The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister

When Was It Released?

2010

What Is It About?

This, similarly to Colette is a biographical historical drama which is set in Yorkshire Britain in the 19th century.

The lead character who we follow in this story is called Anne Lister, and she is a landowner as well as an industrialist, but what will make the narrative so appealing is the secret lesbian relationships which make her such a scandalous figure historically.

As the name suggests, the movie is based on truth following the events told in her diaries which had to be decoded once she died to work out what they were talking about.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

Following the narrative of this woman who was so willing to break boundaries and barriers and live as she wanted in a society which would usually not allow it is what makes Anne Lister such a fun character to follow.

The fact that this movie is also historically accurate and based on a real character also makes it appealing in the way some of the more fictional forays on this list can not be.

If you want to experience Anne Lister’s story in a different way, there is another series following her life story called Gentleman Jack.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* The ending of The Diaries Of Anne Lister is overall a happy ending but is still quite bittersweet.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire

When Was It Released?

2019

What Is It About?

Set in 18th century France, this movie displays the love affair taking place between an aristocrat and the woman who was hired with the intention of painting her. 

Why We Think You Should Watch It

This is definitely one of the most popular recent movies on the list and the relationship presented is done masterfully.

The relationship between the two leads is acted spectacularly, and their chemistry is almost palpable in the scenes between them.

The cinematography also makes this a beautiful movie to witness so if you are not even a fan of period pieces, just the way this movie looks should attract you to it!

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* There are no deaths in the ending of A Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, but the ending is definitely bittersweet.

Vita And Virginia

When Was It Released?

2019

What Is It About?

This is another biographical piece, and it is a drama which follow the life of famed author Virginia Woolf and does this on the backdrop of the 1920s.

The narrative follows the relationships between Woolf and another writer called Vita Sackville West who meet and once they do, Vita aims to enter a romantic relationship with Virginia.

This affair is also done within the context of both women’s open marriages adding another dimension to make this narrative even more interesting!

Why We Think You Should Watch It

The relationship between the two leads in this movie is incredibly well acted and will engage you to follow how it develops.

If you are also a fan of either of these authors, having the context of this movie to learn about their personal lives is definitely worth watching!

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* The ending of this movie is quite sad but does not feature any deaths.

Ammonite

When Was It Released?

2020

What Is It About?

This is a chill slow paced movie following the romance of Mary Anning who is a paleontologist.

This is an intimate slow paced movie which follows a sweet relationship we get to see develop naturally, if not for some slightly clunky dialogue.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

If you want something with a little less stakes than some of the other movies, this is a great choice and if you like slow paced movies or fossils, this is a good choice for you!

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* This movie has an open but still optimistic ending.

Fingersmith

When Was It Released?

2005

What Is It About?

This is not a movie but a miniseries and if the plot sounds familiar, this is the same plot line which 2016’s Handmaiden was based off of, only this adaption is slightly more faithful to the original plot.

The plot follows the same thieves trying to steal from an heiress idea, but this time in the original Victorian England setting. 

Why We Think You Should Watch It

If you want something a bit more classic than the 2016 take on Fingersmith, this TV adaption is very well done, and the romance is still worth following.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* This series does have a happy ending.

Wild Nights With Emily

When Was It Released?

2018

What Is It About?

Compared to some of the more dour and dark movies on this list, this movie is a lot more lighthearted and has a lot of witty and sarcastic humor.

This movie follows Emily Dickinson and the scandalous romance she has with her sister-in-law called Sue.

This movie takes place in the 1800s and because of this does have some dark themes, it is still a great chill watch.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

If you want something with a bit of humor and a romance which is fun to root for, this is a great movie to watch, there is also a TV series called Dickinson which adapts the same characters if you would prefer that style of pacing.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* Wild Nights With Emily does not have a happy ending, but it still has a lighthearted tone.

The Girl King

When Was It Released?

2015

What Is It About?

This is a biographical period drama which has an earlier setting than most in the early 17th century following Christina the Queen of Sweden and her lesbian life.

She was famous for refusing to get married and instead became one of the most well-educated women of her century being more interested in paintings, books, and theater. 

Why We Think You Should Watch It

If you want something in a time period a bit earlier than a lot of other period dramas which follows a historically relevant figure, this is a great movie to watch!

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* It does have a happy ending even if the main couple do not end the movie together.

Tell It To The Bees

When Was It Released?

2018

What Is It About?

This movie is based off a novel by Fiona Shaw and the movie takes place in rural Scotland during the 1950s and shows Lydia falling in love with Jean who is the new doctor who has moved to town, while Lydia has a son who has an interest in the bee colonies which are kept by Jean.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

Many have issue with this movie adaptions straying from its novels origins, but you can decide which you prefer if you choose to read and watch both.

However, the romance in this movie is still incredibly well done, and the Scottish setting is refreshing.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* It does not have a happy ending but at least no one gets killed off.

The World To Come

When Was It Released?

2020

What Is It About?

This movie definitely has one of the more dark tones out of the ones featured in this list and shows two women who are stuck in a domestic life in 1850 frontier America and learn to find hope and joy with each other.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

The cinematography as well as the acting is definitely the main reason to watch this movie and is why the relationship and atmosphere between the leads is so palpable and realistic.

However, if you want a movie to pick up your mood, this is not the right choice.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* This movie does not have a happy ending.

A Quiet Passion

When Was It Released?

2016

What Is It About?

This is another take on Emily Dickinson’s life, and it is definitely a more serious and quality adaption than Wild Nights With Emily, however, it is lacking the humor which makes that movie stand out. 

Why We Think You Should Watch It

If you want a more grounded take on Emily Dickinson, this is definitely a movie you would prefer over the previous adaption mentioned about Dickinson’s life.

It is recommended to watch the trailer of both and see which appeals to you more based off this.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* The ending of this movie is happy but is not a romantic happy ending.

Lizzie

When Was It Released?

2018

What Is It About?

This movie takes place in 1892 and follows a maid played by Kristen Stewart and her affair with the daughter of the house who has just been accused of axe murdering her parents.

This is actually based on a true story which took place in Massachusetts, and the way the true story has been adapted into movie makes it incredibly entertaining.

Why We Think You Should Watch It

The acting in this movie is definitely what makes it such an attractive choice to watch. However, you should not watch this if you are looking for a happy movie.

The only points we get to see joy in the movie is when the maid and the daughter hook up, but aside from this, the movie has quite a dire tone.

Does It Have A Happy Ending?

*SPOILERS* This movie does not have a happy ending.

Takeaway

Hopefully this list has put into perspective the amazing array of lesbian period dramas available to watch!

These stories are all so unique and cover a wide variety of love stories and eras to give you something to satiate what you are looking for!

Most of these movies are quite accessible to find so hopefully at least one of them will be to your liking!

The Best Lesbian Period Dramas of All Time!
Gay Worlley

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