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CW's Reign: Blood sacrifices! Castle abductions! Sexy Nostradamus!

Reign. What a great show.

Do you like ridiculous levels of drama? Do you have a penchant for young people standing on cliffs looking windswept? Do you casually enjoy references to a dark wood next to a castle that no one should enter because PAGANS? Well then journey on over to the CW, my friends, and examine their 16th century offerings. (and by 'to the CW' I mean Netflix, 'cause no one has regular TV anymore)

When Reign premiered, they had some kind of viral marketing campaign all over Chicago, and I said "NO. I will not watch a show about Sexy Mary, Queen of Scots and support more revisionist bullshit about her. NEIN." Because I have highly disliked Mary, Queen of Scots ever since I started loving Elizabeth I (around age 15) because how could you NOT? My feelings are best summed up by this graphic I made back in the day to illustrate their differences:

But Reign focuses on Mary's early life, i.e. when she lived in France and was betrothed to the Dauphin (Francis). In reality, Francis was supposed to be sickly and he died soon after becoming king. On the show, Mary and Francis are in LOVE and are going to SAVE EUROPE (subtext: from Protestantism but they don't want you to think about that on the show), but Nostradamus, who is also on the show, has told Francis's mother Catherine de' Medici that there is a prophecy that Mary's marriage to Francis will cause his death. Oh noooooo.

So Catherine de' Medici is conspiring against Mary, and in the grand history of people who conspire, she is pretty high on the list of Ones Who Are Good At It, so that sucks for Mary. Meanwhile, Francis's bastard brother Sebastian is all "I'm hot tempered but also hot for Mary" and so loooove triangle. But not a super-annoying one.

Scandalously dressed Mary, Catherine being a badass, and beautiful Francis
and his tiny, bony little shoulders

Basically the show aims to hit the major historical events, and then just put whatever shit they want in between. Which is fine. You've signed up for SexyHistory, and you get that. ALONG WITH Man in the Iron Mask Girl (who actually just wears a bag over her head) and Creepy Pagans in the Woods, who always make for a good episode.

You also have the Queen of France, Catherine de' Medici, who I'm currently reading a book about to see if she was at all like Megan Follows from Anne of Green Gables plays her. I hope she was at least 15% like this:

More like Queen SASSERINE, amirite?

Anyway, Adelaide Kane as Mary has achieved the almost impossible, which is making me like Mary. There's a lot of annoying Mary propaganda from the 19th century because what with her Catholicism, eventual beheading at the hands of Elizabeth (because she was an IDIOT), and reputed attractiveness, Romantics were all over that shit. Schiller wrote a play about her that's basically "Mary, how are you so smart and pretty and great all the time?" 

To be EXTRA-annoying, people occasionally say things like, "Yeah, Elizabeth killed Mary, but then Mary's son James became king, so WHO WON IN THE END?" 

Elizabeth. Elizabeth won in the end. Who remembers the Stuarts? Mary's descendants 1) horrifically conservative 2) got beheaded 3) responsible for the Restoration period, which is DISGUSTING 4) got pregnant 17 times and had no children to inherit so the GERMANS had to come over and become kings of England and were in charge until Queen Victoria's death in 1901. Nice going, Stuarts.

So no, I don't like Mary. But I like Adelaide Kane's portrayal of her A LOT. And I like the fact that the show isn't dumb. I was expecting dumb. But there are twists! And exciting things! And anachronistic dresses, but you don't care, because it's SexyHistory and that's how it's supposed to be!

Reign. What a great show.



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