The success of Matthew Weiner’s new TV series The Romanoffs, about a modern family who believes they are descendants of the actual Romanovs, shouldn’t come as a surprise. And not just because it’s Weiner’s much-anticipated follow-up to the cultural phenomenon that was Mad Men. TV audiences are becoming increasingly fascinated by historical fiction (see: our continuing obsession with the Kennedys).
Several prime examples spring to mind: Downton Abbey, The Tudors, The Borgias, Reign, The Crown, Versailles… and now, The Romanoffs. These series spring up around facts rooted in the real lives of some of history’s most fascinating families — families whose lives are, in many ways, stranger than fiction. Sure, the studios editorialize a bit. But if you do a bit of digging, you’ll find that the storylines on these shows are often lifted straight from the pages of history books.
Which makes us wonder: What other historical families would make good fodder for a television series? Who in history has the kind of drama and intrigue that would make for a scintillating show? Suffice it to say, there are many.
We’ve narrowed it down to seven, though. Hey, Weiner, consider your next project found.