Take a Trip through History this Weekend: 3 Historical Series to Binge-watch
TV Shows & Movies French

Take a Trip through History this Weekend: 3 Historical Series to Binge-watch

Ximena Lama-Rondon
Ximena Lama-Rondon

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When summer first starts, we all love to make ambitious claims about our goals for all the time off we will enjoy. Yet, just this month, some of us scheduled a solo study session three times – only to fall through a Wikipedia rabbit hole about something completely unrelated.

Some of us just can’t handle that need to know more about a certain topic. If this is your case (and your link-binges tend to take a historical persuasion), then why not combine both? Simply make sure you stick to your practice time by bingeing on some historical series.

3 Shows to Indulge Your Inner History Nerd This Weekend

So let’s go through this week’s “tour through time” country by country.

#1 – France: Benjamin Brillaud’s Series of “History Questions” about the early modern period

Modern times are long past, as they lasted from the 15thto the 18th century. This was a period of strife and revolution, and France tends to show up a lot here. This is not what makes Benjamin Brillaud’s miniseries fascinating, though.

Instead, he offers a fresh take on fringe aspects of history. Why look at a King’s political legacy when you can solve the conspiracy of his murder? Or take a look at the folly of his entire royal house? And if you had never wondered about the sex lives of 17th-century comedic writers…

Even back then, comedians didn't judge

Well, there’s a mental image we will gift you with.

#2 – Spain: La Conspiración, or the Civil War from the eyes of one of its creators

The problem with 20th Century history is that it’s so full of war and evil-dictator regimes that it makes the entire Spanish Civil War go overlooked.

Fought between 1936 and 1939, the Spanish Civil War saw the left-leaning Spanish Republican forces fighting town-by-town against the fascist Phalangists. The conflict started when the eventual winner and Phalangist leader, General Francisco Franco, conspired with a group of fellow high-ranking officers and staged a revolt at a Moroccan outpost.

This is a hard period of history to study: the sons of many of its players are still going around, and in many cases, the actions of either side are still under question by modern-day politicians. But at the start of it all, there was a group of high-ranking commanders who bit more than they could chew.

La Conspiración offers a chance to see this from the point of view of one of his players. It follows the machinations of General Emilio Mola, one of the early strategists who planned the initial revolt, and who may have been murdered by Franco himself after he became too prominent.

If you have ever visited a museum and wondered “what possessed these idiots?” here’s your chance to dig deep into their psyche.

#3 – Italy: Elba, the alternate history that brings back little Napoleon

It’s time for a sneak peek at our ever-growing catalogue!

“Elba: Napoleon’s Legacy” is an award-winning Italian series. The island of Elba was Napoleon’s prison for 20 months, after the first time he lost a major battle while trying to take over the world.

Here, a series of supernatural forces bring  an otherworldly Tyrant to modern-day Elba, and slowly begin to turn the world into rock. Meanwhile, the forces of good respond by reviving Napoleon, who, despite all his legendary shortcomings, is still one of the most brilliant strategists who ever lived.

But what will he do when confronted to his legacy? He may as well decide we are not worth saving.

But aren’t we already learning a new language?

Yes, but think of it as a “buy one, get two” kind of deal.

Huge nerd alert – but one of the best things about studying history is that it’s full of interesting characters trying to make the most of weird situations and never-seen-before events. When the local news feels too chaotic, it helps to escape into past unruly events. After all, we came out alright of that one, right?

Library with hanging bulbs
Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič / Unsplash

After all, the many plots, conspiracies, and conflicts that shaped history all very human stories, done by equally human players – and often, their motivations were just as tied to their private drama as to their nation’s coffers.

And if something’s backstory wasn’t exciting enough for an Emmy – well, that’s where historical fiction comes in, right?

What’s more, both historical events and the way we interpret them can tell us a lot about a country’s attitude and spirit. Knowing a country’s history, and being able to interpret its consequences, can help you cross-cultural bridges as efficiently as learning a foreign language.

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