A Dark Academia-Inspired TV Watchlist


Photo by Javier Grixo

When there is a crisp chill in the air and we spend a lot more time indoors (making the most of the limited daylight of course) you may find yourself shivering at your desk, with ink-stained hands, rearranging books and papers sprawled under a dim lampshade. As on-campus teaching comes to an early close on December 4th, perhaps you feel a sense of limbo, completing your online classes from home before relaxing over the Christmas break. Thankfully, there is plenty of inspiration that can be gained from watching TV shows when working in your study spaces, and one of the current obsessions is that of dark academia. This is an aesthetic that celebrates classic literature, dark, moody backdrops and rainy exteriors while harking back to traditional pursuits towards knowledge and learning. If you are intrigued to find out more about this genre, here is a list of shows which fit the perfect tone for your dark academia winter setup…

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

As cliché as it sounds, this is the current show everyone is talking about, ranking as Netflix’s most-watched mini-series, and gaining 62 million viewers in the first month of its release. But this classy drama is far from conventional and least of all predictable. It follows chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy- Peaky Blinders, Emma) in a drug-fuelled, chain-smoking world and her ascent to becoming renowned chess champion. An adaptation of Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel, it’s already proven to bring back a strong resurgence of 60s style and fashion – and not least an increased popularity in chess playing.

If you liked this try… The Umbrella Academy on Netflix.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon Prime/BBC iplayer)

New South Wales, 1900. A chilling psychological thriller set in a prestigious girl’s boarding school is the perfect backdrop when several pupils and their governesses mysteriously disappear on an excursion to the eponymous location. However, under the iron gaze of schoolmistress Miss Appleyard, the shattering repercussions will reveal hidden truths. But will the enigma of hanging rock, and what happened on that fateful day ever be pieced together?

If you liked this try… Ordeal by Innocence on Amazon Prime.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (Amazon Prime)

Enter a world of mystery and mayhem as two magicians, one set in the old traditional ways and the other unconventionally ambitious, seek to bring magic back to 19th century England. However, their pursuits bring dangerous consequences in the art of bringing back the dead, and with the Napoleonic Wars raging, should sorcery really be meddled with or left alone in the past? A wonderful mixture of the gothic fantasy, historical drama and the grotesque, Susanna Clarke’s award winning novel is brought stunningly to life in this seven-part drama series.

If you liked this try… The Frankenstein Chronicles on Netflix.

The Alienist (Netflix)

When a series of haunting child murders take place in 1896 New York City, three bright individuals form as a team –  the ‘alienist’ psychologist Dr Lazlio Kreizer, a newspaper illustrator and a plucky young female secretary. In a time of great social and technological change, the investigators use their skills to find the serial killer that prowls the street and its people.

If you liked this try… Taboo on BBC iplayer.



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TV Editor | 19-21

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