Created by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and based on the 1992 non-fiction namesake book by Stephen E. Ambrose, ‘Band of Brothers’ (2001) is a war-drama miniseries set against the tail end of World War II. The series offers a dramatized rendition of the experiences of the “Easy Company,” part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, depicting their involvement in the American airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and the liberation of the Kaufering concentration camp complex at Dachau.
The name of the series (and the original book), which refers to the bond formed among the soldiers in the company, can be traced back to the St Crispin’s Day Speech from the play ‘Henry V’ by William Shakespeare. Upon its release in 2001, the series received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and even though the September 11 attacks impacted the marketing and likely the viewership, it still managed to achieve good ratings. ‘Band of Brothers’ also won seven Primetime Emmys and one Golden Globe Award. If you have watched and loved the series, here is a list of recommendations that might fit your taste. You can watch most of these shows like ‘Band of Brothers’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
10. The Liberator (2020)
Released on the 2020 Veterans Day, ‘The Liberator’ is based on Alex Kershaw’s 2012 book, ‘The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey.’ Series creator Jeb Stuart (‘Die Hard’) and director Greg Jonkajtys used the Trioscope Enhanced Hybrid Animation technology to develop this four-part miniseries.
Like ‘Band of Brothers,’ ‘The Liberator’ is a dramatized exploration of an incredible true story involving an American unit during World War II. US Army officer Felix Sparks (Bradley James) and his E Company, 157th Infantry Regiment, participate in a 500-day-long campaign across Italy, France, and Germany. Furthermore, like the Easy Company in ‘Band of Brothers,’ the E Company becomes one of the units liberating Dachu.
9. The Man in the High Castle (2015-2019)
Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 namesake novel, ‘The Man in the High Castle’ is not a dramatization of history, unlike ‘Band of Brothers.’ Instead, it is an alternate history retelling in which the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan have won the war and control the world. They split the United States into two parts, with the German-occupied area or the Greater Nazi Reich in the east and the Japanese Pacific States in the west. Despite the dissimilarities, both series reflect on what transpired during World War II and how those things impacted history.
8. Tenko (1981-1984)
The BBC1 series ‘Tenko’ is a pioneering show when it comes to programming centered on female characters. The plot revolves around the British, Australian, and Dutch women captured by the Imperial Japanese forces after the Fall of Singapore in February 1942. The show depicts their suffering at a fictional Japanese internment camp on a Japanese-occupied island while the Allied governments effectively forget about them.
Like ‘Band of Brothers’ and other entries on this list, ‘Tenko’ is about one of the many aspects of World War II. What sets it apart from the rest is its feminist approach to the traditional war-drama narrative, offering a unique perspective on the horrors of war.
7. Catch-22 (2019)
‘Catch-22‘ follows John Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a United States Army Air Forces bombardier, who concludes that he doesn’t want to die fighting other people’s wars. His problem is that he is caught in the tangles of the bureaucratic rule Catch-22, which stipulates the desire to fly dangerous combat missions as a sign of insanity while simultaneously considering the requests to leave the unit using insanity as the reason as a sign of a rational mind.
The particular factor makes requests such as the ones mentioned above entirely pointless. The satirical dark comedy miniseries is based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. Though John and his fellow airmen might not be as heroic as some characters in ‘Band of Brothers,’ they still share a strong bond that makes them siblings in war.
6. Five Came Back (2017)
‘Five Came Back’ is the only documentary series on the list. Developed from Mark Harris’ 2014 book ‘Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War,’ the series revolves primarily around John Ford, John Huston, William Wyler, Frank Capra, and George Stevens — filmmakers who decided to stand up against Hitler’s propaganda. The documentary comprises interviews from these auteurs’ celebrated admirers — Paul Greengrass, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, and Lawrence Kasdan.
The series is guided by the impeccable narration by Meryl Streep, who garnered the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator for her contribution. Like ‘Band of Brothers,’ ‘Five Came Back’ explores an avenue of conflict between the Allied and Axis forces, demonstrating that not all battles were fought by soldiers with guns in their hands.
5. Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971)
‘Hogan’s Heroes’ has a different tone than ‘Band of Brothers’ and other entries, but the 1960s sitcom still encapsulates the camaraderie and courage of the Allied soldiers. The plot revolves around US Army Air Forces Colonel Robert Hogan and his staff members as they operate a secret Allied espionage and sabotage operation while being held as prisoners of war (POW) in the heavily fictionalized Stalag 13 outside Hammelburg in Nazi Germany. ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ may not offer the grittiness and realism of ‘Band of Brothers,’ but it still approaches World War II with significant candidness.
4. Generation War (2013)
‘Generation War’ (‘Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter’) is a three-part German miniseries. The first part is set before and in the early days of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The second part explores the period when the invasion turns into a disaster, while the third part depicts the period when the Soviet army arrives at the outskirts of Berlin, the fall of the city, and the immediate aftermath.
In many ways, ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘Generation War’ are the antithesis of each other. While the former is told from an American perspective and is about glory and courage, the latter gives the German account, underscoring the horrors committed by their country and candidly depicting the suffering of ordinary young German people.
3. Das Boot (2018-)
‘Das Boot’ is a German series that serves as a sequel to the 1981 film of the same name. It’s an adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim’s namesake book, with certain parts taken from the sequel, ‘Die Festung.’ Nine months have passed since the events of the film. In the first season, tension rises between opposing factions on board U-612, while a resistance takes shape in La Rochelle, France. Like ‘Band of Brothers,’ ‘Das Boot’ explores the impact of war on ordinary soldiers, demonstrating that suffering and longing for the home weren’t restricted to one side.
2. World On Fire (2019-)
If ‘Band of Brothers’ focuses on the soldiers, ‘World on Fire’ settles its attention on the ordinary people whose lives have been forever altered by the war. The show has an ensemble cast of characters representing various countries affected by the war, including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Poland. In the first season, the narrative depicts the events taking place between March 1939 to June 1940, including the Defence of the Polish Post Office in Danzig, the Dunkirk evacuation, the Battle of the River Plate, and the Battle of Britain. At the center of the narrative is the relationship between the British interpreter Harry Chase and his Polish lover, Kasla Tomaszeski.
1. The Pacific (2010)
Based on Eugene Sledge’s 1981 memoir ‘With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa’ and Robert Leckie’s 1957 personal narrative ‘Helmet for My Pillow,’ The Pacific’ revolves around the exploits of the US Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater of Operations within the wider Pacific War and serves as a companion piece to ‘Band of Brothers.’
Spielberg and Hanks serve as executive producers on the project along with Gary Goetzman. The show was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards after its release, winning the Outstanding Miniseries accolade. ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Pacific’ are meant to be watched together, as they offer a rounded depiction of the American experience during the war.
Read More: Is Band of Brothers Based on a True Story?