Will 'Barbarians Rising' Return For Season 2? It's Not The Only Historical Series Worth Watching
History began as a network that aired documentaries almost exclusively, but it has since added scripted series with historical themes, like Vikings and the 2016 remake of Roots. So it makes sense that one of the network's latest shows, Barbarians Rising, mixes documentary talking heads with lengthy reenactments, a style that hasn't really been seen before. Will it pay off and warrant a Barbarians Rising Season 2? Unfortunately, the first season received some mixed reviews, as anything that totally creates a new format is bound to do. And the series' ratings were not particularly outstanding — according to Showbuzz Daily's Nielsen Ratings, the show only netted 210,000 viewers for its third episode.
However, the most telling sign about the future of Barbarians Rising is that it was originally billed as a "limited series," which means History likely never intended to extend it past these eight episodes. If the show had done extremely well, there's a chance it could have returned despite that limited status, but with that designation and low ratings, Monday night's season finale will likely be the series' last episode. So while we wait to find out if Barbarians Rising will ever return, you can check out these other series that tackle similar subject matter.
Love the Roman settings of Barbarians Rising but wish the Romans were back in charge? Well, HBO's classic series about the time of Julius Caesar should be the perfect fix, since the production values are incredibly high, and the three seasons can be streamed on HBOGo.
The closest predecessor to Barbarians Rising is another miniseries that History aired back in 2000. It's a documentary that lasted for two seasons, with each episode diving into a culture of barbarians that had particularly notable military success.
And if Spartacus, the former slave turned populist rebel leader profiled in one Barbarians Rising episode, captured your imagination, you should catch up on this Starz series. It's a good amount gorier and grittier than History's series, so be warned that it falls very firmly on the NSFW side of the TV divide.
Kublai Khan may not have been a "barbarian," but to the people his family conquered, the Khan family were outsiders with backwards customs. And that's a big part of Marco Polo, Netflix's expensively produced series. Season 1 was a little slow, but the second season already looks a lot more exciting — and Khan was always the best part.
Terry Jones' Barbarians
If all this "barbarian" talk is troubling you because it represents a limited historical view, I have the perfect series for you. In 2006, the BBC made this examination of what it means to be a barbarian.
After you watch Terry Jones' Barbarians, you should know better than to consider the Vikings barbarians, but this scripted series is all about a tribe that's held close by tradition and family, and frequently ride into battle with painted faces.
Whether or not History decides that Barbarians Rising should return for another season, these other series are definitely worth checking out if you enjoyed the limited series.
Images: Elena Nenkova or Simon Vasano, Jonathan Hession/HISTORY; Giphy (2); Phil Bray/Netflix