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10 Gritty TV Shows Like Black Sails You Have to See

Rahul is a TV addict who can never get enough of good shows. His all-time favorites are The Wire, Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos.


Gore, sex, and some intriguing pirate drama—Black Sails has every ingredient for an amazing TV show that will hook you instantly. With its wacky storyline and a talented cast, it has won a lot of fans over the last couple of years.

As awesome as it is, there is always a persisting problem with shows like this one—the break between seasons. It’s too much to bear. Don’t worry, I’ve got your fix. Being a huge fan, I looked around for a few more shows that might fit the hole in your hearts. Let’s take a look at them.

Ten Gritty Series Like Black Sails

The Last Kingdom

The Borgias

The Tudors




Game of Thrones


The Shannara Chronicles

House of Cards

1. The Last Kingdom


The Last Kingdom takes place around 872 A.D. The time period had Vikings raiding England pretty frequently, terrorizing its population and looting everything. The main protagonist, Uhtred, is captured and raised by Vikings. Which side will he be on? Will he choose the people who raised him or his own?

While the story is not historically accurate, it feels authentic and really well written. It does take some time to pick up the pace. Once it gets going, it never looks back. There are a lot of plot twists. You will be compelled to root for a character you previously loathed and vice versa.

Not a lot of people are watching this one. If you are not, you need to start binge- watching right now! You'll definitely dig it.

2. The Borgias


The plot revolves around the Borgia family, who use all measures necessary to rise to power. While they make some friends on their way up, they end up making a lot more enemies. It’s the story of their struggle to remain in charge while keeping their enemies at bay.

I was skeptical at first when I heard of this show. A period drama about an Italian crime family set in the 15th century could have gone wrong in many ways. That skepticism disappeared after watching this. It’s a shame that The Borgias had to be cancelled after the third season. Nevertheless, you still have three amazing, action-packed seasons to binge on.

3. The Tudors


While it looks gorgeous and has strong acting, there is no denying that this series tampers a lot with historical accuracy. You don’t need to be a history buff to know that some events have been altered just for the sake of making the series spicier and more appealing to a broader audience.

While The Tudors is far from a perfect show, it does offer some gritty drama. All things considered, the historical accuracy is my only real gripe. Over the course of four seasons, I grew invested in the characters. I loved some while I loathed others. I wholeheartedly recommend that you give this series a chance.

4. Rome


This TV show chronicles the lives of ordinary citizens during the very last days of the Roman Republic. Even though it only lasted for two short seasons, it's still one of the best TV shows HBO has ever produced. It feels authentic and the talented cast has done an amazing job with portraying some of the legendary figures from history. Being a history buff, I was excited to see that most of the characters were portrayed in a fairly accurate manner.

The show has the perks of an HBO production. You can expect a lot of profanity, womanizing, brawling, nudity, and sexual acts. It never feels forced on us just for the sake of it. This is how the ancient Romans used to live. The series highlights the best and worst aspects of the era.

If you’re looking for a historical show with some accuracy, Rome should be right up your alley.

5. Reign


The plot revolves around Mary, Queen of Scots. She deals with all sorts of dark forces and other foes alongside her best friends in medieval France.

Fans have described Reign as Gossip Girl meets Game of Thrones. If you have been looking for something with more over-the-top drama, you should start binging this right now.

You won't find historical accuracy here, but the show is pretty flashy and breathtaking nonetheless. You can feast your eyes on four impressive seasons.

6. Spartacus


The plot revolves around a Thracian slave who goes on to become one of the best gladiators ever. Later on, he leads a slave uprising against the Romans, bringing chaos and instability everywhere.

Given how much I enjoyed this show throughout all four seasons, I’d say it doesn’t get enough praise. It seemed like the producers decided to skip all the mushy parts that make a show boring and crammed this one with as much breathtaking bloodbaths as possible. More often than not, you'll be looking at someone getting beheaded, impaled, or dying in some other gruesome manner. If violence is not your cup of tea, you should skip this show altogether. If you can stomach it, you’re going to love what this series has to offer.

Don’t mistake this for gore porn. The character development, scenery, costumes, and historical accuracy are all top-notch. Everything from the dialogue to the fight scenes are really well done. You’d be hard-pressed to put your finger on anything that could have been done better.

7. Game of Thrones


Do I really need to say anything about this series? With nearly half a million ratings for a score of 9.5 on IMDB, Game of Thrones stands amongst some of the best TV shows I have ever watched. I would go as far as to say that there is nothing on TV right now that even has half of what GOT has to offer.

The fifth season was not up to the mark of previous ones, but it was still far better than anything else on that whole year. There is no comparing it to any other shows in any capacity.

Did I tell you that it costs $6 million per episode and it is shot across five continents? HBO is pouring in everything it has got, and it’s certainly paying off.

They deserve all the praise they get. Everything from the dialogue, cinematography, and scenery is perfect. The world portrayed here feels very real despite being entirely fictional. Even with dragons and White Walkers wandering around Westeros, you get the feeling that this place could exist in the real world. Again, the attention to every little detail is astounding.

The only problem with Game of Thrones is that there is not enough of it. With only 10 episodes every year, fans have an agonizingly long wait for the next season to air. But then again, if they were to do 22-23 episodes per season, the writing wouldn’t be nearly as sharp as it is today. They don’t have to drag down the main storyline with love triangles and other cliché stories. Every season is basically a 10 hour movie with amazing production values.

If you are interested in this show and haven't started it, you're in for a treat.

8. Vikings


If you judged Vikings by its trailer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s just about a bunch of bodybuilders running around with skirts on. There is a lot more to it than some jaw-dropping fight scenes.

The plot revolves around the time period when Vikings were terrorizing Britain and France, raiding and looting everything. The narrative focuses on Ragnar Lodbroka, a legendary figure who was rumored to be the direct descendent of war gods.

His thirst for exploration beyond the safe territories leads him to glory in France and Britain, but he makes quite a few enemies within his own tribe.

I can point out a lot of historical details they have gotten wrong. However, it’s a fun show and one that should be enjoyed. If you love the plundering and murders in Black Sails, then you will get your fix here.

9. The Shannara Chronicles


Airing on MTV, The Shannara Chronicles is based on a series of books by Terry Brooks. The story follows heroes from different lands as they try to stop the army of darkness from destroying the universe. The first season had 10 episodes, and the second season has already been ordered by MTV.

You can expect it to be geared towards a younger audience. After all, this is what MTV is all about. This doesn’t mean that the show doesn't deserve the attention of other age groups. Yes, there are some cheesy moments, but they are few and far between.

Even though the first few episodes were shaky, things picked up in the latter half of the season. Here is hoping for a better second season this time around.

10. House of Cards


Netflix has come a long way over the past couple of years. They not only have tons content to stream, but also tons of original material as well.

One of those is House of Cards. Starring Kevin Spacey, it chronicles Frank Underwood’s ruthless journey from a whip to becoming the President of the United States. Over the course of last 4 seasons, we have learned what he can do to get what he wants. He is selfish, conniving, and very charming. You can’t help but root for him.

Even if you’re not a big fan of political dramas, you’re going to love what this series brings to the table. The writing is sharp and the acting is brilliant. It will keep you on your toes the whole time.


Uncle Bob on April 27, 2020:

What does "gritty" mean?

David on April 25, 2018:

Fuck! I came here for something to quwelch the hole the final season of Black Sails left me in only to find out that I have watched every episode of each series listed here. I have even watched the Russian produced period pieces Sophia and Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great. I am now watching documentaries on all of these periods to get a less sensationalized and more grounded concept of these points in man's history. It is crazy to think about some of these figures and how different some of their world's were even though they lived at almost the same time but in different parts of the world.