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Costume Drama

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The Earth rotates on the axis of this lady's hat.

"I've always said, 'Give me horses, capes and cleavage and I'm a happy man.'"
Patrick Swayze, North & South featurette

A costume drama is a Period Piece in which elaborate costumes, sets and properties are featured in order to capture the ambiance of a particular era. Most costume dramas are adaptations of classic literature, often romances, but the term can also be used to describe things such as Robin Hood.

Even if the plot is not realistic or is victim to Sadly Mythtaken, if the costumes are lavishly detailed and the designer has Shown Their Work a film can still be a good example of costume drama.

Because of its tendency towards spectacle, costume drama is the home of Costume Porn, especially the pimped out Gorgeous Period Dress. If the character is of sufficient social status to afford a vast wardrobe (and the budget can accommodate it), the costume designer usually runs with it.

If this is a one-off Out-of-Genre Experience for the sake of Costume Porn, you are watching a Costumer.


See also Swashbuckler, Sword & Sandal, Wuxia and Jidaigeki, many of which can be considered costume dramas.



  • Most films or television shows about the life of Elizabeth I or Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Virtually any drama set amongst the upper classes of Victorian England, or pre-revolutionary France.


TV Series



  • Satirized by Foil, Arms and Hog with An English Period Drama. Featuring love, class division, a local vicar, a visiting doctor, colonialism, boring dancing...
    Announcer: An English Period Drama: Keeping teenagers from the living room for generations.

Alternative Title(s): Period Drama


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