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Everett Miller
Everett Miller

The Serpent Queen (S01)

The series follows the story of Catherine de' Medici, who marries into the French Valois court as a fourteen year-old teenager expected to bring in a fortune in dowry and produce heirs. Despite many challenges, a lifetime of clever political maneuvering allows her to rule France as queen for 30 years.[1]

The Serpent Queen (S01)

Catherine was also a mathematician, astrologer, and astronomer and chose the people she included in her court carefully, drawing from some of the greatest minds of the period. She also chose tolerance in dealing with the disputes between the Protestants and Catholics of the time. She bore three kings and two queens and was also the mother-in-law of Mary, Queen of Scots. Although she was never ruler of France, she served as a regent for her husband and as an advisor to all three of her sons.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that men were doing most of the writing back then, but history is full of unfairly maligned women, from Anne Boleyn and Marie Antoinette to the Ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra. One of the worst cases is that of Catherine de Medici, whose reputation as a Machiavellian mover in the French court has only been further calcified by the hands of time. Starring Samantha Morton at her wicked best, "The Serpent Queen" is a darkly comedic and empowering twist on the Medici mythos told from the perspective of an orphan left to fend for herself as a teenage bride in the dangerous French court.

Despite the antagonistic relationship between the pair, Lizzie comes into her own as queen while learning to play the chess game of court life. Like the other dramas in the series, the show plays around with real history as it suits the storytelling. Comer, who is best known for her Emmy-winning performance as Villanelle in "Killing Eve," is stellar as Elizabeth of York, and there are plenty of great supporting performances. Essie Davis ("The Babadook") and Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark from "Game of Thrones") are both highlights of this tense political period drama.

Based on Philippa Gregory's Catherine of Aragon novels, "The Spanish Princess" follows "The White Queen" and "The White Princess," detailing the reign of the eponymous princess and later queen who would become the first of Henry VIII's wives. The series begins in 1501 with the mutually beneficial marriage-by-proxy of the young Spanish princess Catherine to the English prince Arthur Tudor, the son and heir of Henry VII. They are matched out of desperation on both sides, with Spain in need of Catholic allies in Europe and England desperately in need of Spanish funds.

Fans of historical dramas will no doubt be familiar with "Elizabeth" and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," starring Cate Blanchett and featuring a young Samantha Morton. Like most productions centered around Elizabeth Tudor, they begin just before the young queen's ascension to the throne in 1558. "Becoming Elizabeth" chronicles the often overlooked period prior to her coronation when the young princess faced an uncertain future as the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She was declared illegitimate by the Pope, who wanted England's oppressed Catholics to rise up against her.

Brimming with gorgeous 18th-century costumes, the story is told as a satirical dark comedy that aims to capture the spirit of the queen and the age in which she lived through a modern lens. With an impressive 94% Rotten Tomatoes rating and a memorable turn from Gillian Anderson as Catherine's mother Joanna, this wild jape of a tale is short on historical accuracy but full of fun moments. "Every scene, every line of Tony McNamara's script carries its own wicked hedonism," said The Guardian in its five-star review. "There is always something to enjoy that's ruder, sillier or sharper than other shows would dare to include." 041b061a72


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