I believe that I have written previous posts about my love for Elizabethan-era history. Recently on Netflix the first season of a show called “Reign” was newly released on the streaming service. It tells, in a fictional capacity, the beginning of Mary Queen of Scots as wife to the Dauphan of France, Frances. Throughout her life, Mary is guarded from the evils of the world and since childhood is hidden away in a nunnery until the day came when she was ready to be re-introduced to Court.
“Reign” not only looks at Mary’s life, but also that of life at the French Court, with King Henry, Queen Catherine de Medici, Frances, and Henry’s bastard son, Sebastian. In addition to the French Court, are Mary’s Ladies in Waiting: Kenna, Lola, Greer, and Aylee. The Ladies have come to assist Mary, giving her a semblance of home through their presence, but also have come to Court to find husbands. Naturally, the show not only concerns the historical fight that Mary and the French royal family struggles with politics and matters of state, but also the fictional sense of relationships and Court intrigue.
The first and only season now available on Netflix is 22 episodes long, each being about 42 minutes. In general, the show is quick-paced, almost some times too much so, but moves quickly through time. Season 1 probably takes place over 18 months and it really is unnoticeable that so much time has past because the show keeps with it and drawing the viewer further and further into the plots.
However, it’s not only the plots that I really enjoyed. The costumes were something that you’d usually find in films. Mary’s four Ladies, herself, and Queen Catherine are the most beautifully dressed females on fictional television that I have seen in a very long time. The beading, the lace, the low and high neck pieces on all of the women are something truly incredible. Also, the wardrobes for the winter season in which all of the actors wore fur coats and scarves of fur was magnificent. Hats off to the seamstresses and designers who produced such beautiful pieces of are. Additionally, the sets were pretty awesome, but it was the on-site shots that were the best to watch. In particular, there was a scene with Sebastian and Frances, where they are at least in a foot of snow on a frozen lake. The viewer could see each breath they took and it felt as if you were there. Just fabulous.
I really cannot think of many things that I didn’t like about the show. In general, with the immense amount of time that past, it held its pace quite well. I have read quite a lot about Queen Catherine and how she was as a person, so much of her political pacts and issues that arose that were because of her were common, but I could see some get annoyed after a while. On the other hand, while I know a little about Queen Mary and how she wanted Elizabeth’s thrown and ended up being beheaded for it, I do not know much about her childhood. Yet, one aspect I wasn’t a big fan of was Mary’s transformation from a caring ruler, to a manipulative human being. You can see the difference in the very last show of the season that Mary changed dramatically and will use any means possible to protect her Scotland. But what she used to ask herself and doesn’t any more is: at what cost?
If you are a fan of historical fiction on television, and would like to learn something of European history, I would highly recommend watching “Reign”. Alternatively, if you like political intrigue, beautiful costumes, and cute men and beautiful women, I would also encourage you to watch “Reign”. It’s a great show, and I was rather surprised that it was produced by The CW, but props to them for making such a winner.