“The Serpent Queen”, “The Great”, and “The Empress” are the hot titles of the moment, after the peak of “The Crown 5,” to discover the stories of three unforgettable queens.
If, on the one hand, the wait for the next season of “The Crown 5“ goes up, on the other hand, the content offer of on-demand platforms and real-themed cable giants is increasingly varied.
In the last decade, the writers have rediscovered the great epic stories of kings and queens of the past, going beyond the now popular national one of Queen Elizabeth II at the center of the Peter Morgan series for Netflix, and the big productions have decided to spend more and more budgets.
Mammoth reconstructs the glories of the past, returning as much as possible to the viewer in terms of historical accuracy. We don’t always succeed; in other cases, the creative direction takes root from history and wanders towards more creative shores.
“The Crown 5” – Netflix
Among the flagship products of the moment, or among the royal-themed series to be seen in order not to be consumed while waiting for The Crown (which will arrive in streaming on November 9th), there are in particular three shows that deserve to be mentioned: Empress on Netflix, “The Serpent Queen” on Starzplay and “The Great” with Elle Fanning on Hulu (viewable via premium subscription from Amazon Prime Video).
What unites these three series, two of which are absolute novelties of the pay-TV schedule, is that the protagonists are three women on the throne: the scandals, loves, torments, and dramas of each of them are at the center of three serial projects from do not lose.
The Serpent Queen – Amazon Prime Video
The writers of this series seem to ask who was Caterina de’ Medici, which tells of the rise of the queen consort of Henry II before becoming one of France’s most potent and well-known sovereigns.
Was she the intriguer who knew everything about the court, hated her daughter-in-law, Maria Stuarda (plot, this, at the center of the CW’s Reign series), who ambitions to govern without having the titles by birth?
This new Starz series starring Samantha Morton ( The Walking Dead) tries to answer these questions by exploiting the notes of irony and lightness to bring history back to us with a capital letter.
The character of Caterina goes back and forth in time to reveal to us how as a young inexperienced Italian, who arrived in the presence of the French dauphin to marry him and thus consolidate relations between the two countries, she has become one of the most feared queens in the world.
She does it by breaking the veil of the fourth wall, speaking to the viewer, and revealing the court intrigues and the tricks put in place to become its undisputed sovereign.
The first season, currently on air, consists of 8 episodes, which air for as many weeks.
The Great – Hulu/Amazon Prime Video
The excellent Elle Fanning as Empress of Russia Catherine the Great has made viewers dream for two seasons: the series, with its sparkling, over-the-top, politically incorrect, and hilarious narrative, is certainly not what the purists of ‘ historical accuracy would premiere with full marks, but it is undoubtedly an example of how facts can be told vibrantly, also (and above all) thanks to a perfectly fitting cast: alongside Fanning is Nicholas Hoult, an excellent Peter III of Russia, husband of Catherine and counterpart of her dramas and vocations.
With the second season aired in 2021, now the third is awaited, in the works: in the meantime, “The Great” won several nominations at the recent 2022 Emmys, confirming itself as one of the most interesting – and exquisitely feminist-themed series of the decade.
The Empress – Netflix
Arriving on Netflix with great fanfare in autumn 2022, the series about the Austrian Empress Sissi, or Elisabeth of Bavaria, has been welcomed amidst controversy.
The project is a beautiful fresco of the love story between Sissi and Franz (Franz Joseph of Austria), surrounded by the political and social turmoil of the times.
But, according to fans of the genre, that minimum of historical accuracy is lacking in costumes, hairstyles, and even in the biographical reconstruction of the relationship between the two, fictionalized in a myriad of editorial, television, and film projects, yet now validated by dozens of historical stories found everywhere.
Many have already renamed “The Empress” the ” Bridgerton in German sauce, “given the sex scenes (not too risque as in Bridgerton’s first season, anyway) and the artistic and creative drifts that the script undertakes.
But the series remains enjoyable: the open ending suggests that there will be a second season, although Netflix has not yet confirmed it.