Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

My photo
Washington, DC, United States
I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Tudors: So when does historical inaccuracy turn into fiction?

In the name of a good story, how important is accuracy? Maybe the real question is what am I sacrificing to watch beautiful men take their shirts off? I swear I’m not talking about porn. I pondered these questions as I spent a very lazy Saturday with the first season of The Tudors (Showtime). I don’t claim to be any kind of Early Modern historian, but I know enough about the order of events, and what I don’t know I can glean from Wikipedia. There is allot to like about The Tudors, so I will try to contain my crankiness, and focus on the positive. One of the main things I like is that The Tudors refrained from cursing for a few episodes. After a while, you stop listening to characters when every other word they use is f**k (hint, hint Weeds). When Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) swears at Catherine (Maria Doyle Kennedy) we see that there has been a radical shift in his character and that we have been watching it slowly take place. This kind of attention indicates that the show is crafted around its subject matter; the whole court is innuendo and evasion; nothing is said directly until it manifests itself in action. I like that what they are doing they are doing well. Another intriguing facet is that the only really sympathetic characters (by this I mean portrayed as actually good people) are Queen Catherine, and Sir Thomas More (Jeremy Northam). Both are given grace and dignity most versions of the Tudor era don’t grant.

Okay, enough playing nice. Princess Margaret (Gabrielle Anwar)’s storyline can’t claim to be just imaginative interpretation of events; it is just fiction. But it is entertaining and intriguing fiction. The relationship between Margaret and Suffolk (Henry Cavill) was great. They had amazing chemistry, and yeah, she murdered the King of Portugal to marry Suffolk, but she never becomes a raving lunatic caricature. He cheats on her all over the place, but he loves her as far as his own limitations allow. I actually felt genuinely sorry for both of them when she died. Despite all this, The Tudors’ version of Margaret is so divergent from history that it is really difficult to retain my suspension of disbelief. Why have that hideous voice-over about “the heart of the story” at the beginning of the credits when what follows is a story, not the story?

Essentially it is the lack of long term planning on the part of show creators/producers/whomever that bothers me. Henry VIII can only be a hot young man for so long, and depending on how far the show is willing and able to follow the dynasty, they are going to run into a huge problem in treating one of the monumental conflict of Queen Elizabeth I’s life: her execution of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. Since it is doubtful the show will get to that point I should probably leave off my musings and enjoy the show. I can’t deny that I’m enthralled by it. But I had the same problem with Rome (I will be watching the second season next week). I couldn’t stop watching, even though there were points were I thought the names and the graffiti were the only things remotely truthful about the show. So is history just not interesting enough? I don’t know what kind of answer I would get from the series creator.

I guess if the good outweighs the bad, as in the case of The Tudors, I can sacrifice quite a bit.

The TV Girl

4 comments:

Asiankp said...

I dont know about this one frenchy. i cannot STAND Jonathan Rhys whatever...he does have this whole sultry bit going on but the dude cant act other than a well placed sigh here and an intense Zoolander-ish glance there.
Although I cant expect too much from Showtime...

The TV Girl said...

I won't argue on acting chops, he's not great. But I think it kind of works, in that they are really only showing one side of Henry VIII, so with such a limited character, its easier to disregard the limitation of the actor. But I don't want or expect anyone to agree with everything I say. What would the fun in that. Watch it, hate it, and then we can get a real debate going.

Asiankp said...

Eww with all the sex...hahahaha...no, I'll watch it...but first I have to get through FNL. then we'll talk...but seriously, have you seen August Rush? JRM even tries to sing??!?! WTF?

The TV Girl said...

I skipped that one. I liked the idea of an updated Oliver Twist, but they always manage to mess things like that up. When I want to see Irish people sing, I watch The Commitments. And, in every single way FNL takes precedence. There is no contest between the two; FNL will make the world a better place, The Tudors was a really nice way to waste a Saturday in my pjs.