Clearly people who think the above are the target audience for the new drama Reign. It's basically The Tudors for teens. And it is both amazing and ridiculous. Let's just establish right off the bat that we don't care about historical accuracy. I am going to turn off my brain and assume that Reign takes place in some alternate universe and leave it at that. Because, really. If that kind of thing bothers you so much you can never watch any historical drama ever. Especially one that airs on The CW.
Hit it, CW promo people!
Hidden between the lines of the history books is the story of Mary Stuart, the young woman the world would come to know as Mary, Queen of Scots. The teenage Mary is already a headstrong monarch ─ beautiful, passionate and poised at the very beginning of her tumultuous rise to power. Arriving in France with four close friends as her ladies-in-waiting, Mary has been sent to secure Scotland’s strategic alliance by formalizing her arranged engagement to the French king’s dashing son, Prince Francis.You guys, this show has everything. Teen angst, teen romance, teen sex, love triangles, "fabulous" costumes, prophecies, magic, mysterious shrouded crazy ladies, dark and dangerous woods, and a surprising amount of politics thrown into the mix.
But seriously, the best thing about the show? The absolute best thing?
The Queen of France, Catherine de Medici, is played by Megan Follows, aka, ANNE OF GREEN FUCKING GABLES.
You guys seriously have no idea how important this is. Anne of Green Gables (and even more so Anne of Avonlea) was absolutely pivotal to my development into a feisty, imaginative red-head. Anne was pretty much my hero. And whenever Megan Follows pops up in a show (she was in an episode of Longmire last year!) I get so fangirly you cannot even imagine.
Anne and Gilbert OTP 4EVA!!!11!
Alright, let's get back to Reign. Other than Megan Follows there aren't a lot of people I recognize in the cast. I think the chick who played Susan in the Narnia movies is one of Mary's interchangeable ladies in waiting, but for the most part we have your standard line-up of pretty CW people. And they are all pretty much competent. I kind of wish the actress playing Mary would act a little more feisty, since Mary is actually written with a brain (well, maybe half of one) in her head and a strong backbone, but that's more of a quibble than an actual criticism.
More interesting than the actors are the characters they play. Because here is where Reign actually surprised me. I made a lot of assumptions before seeing the show. First, that Prince Francis would be your typical asshole spoiled brat. And that his mother, the Queen of France, would somehow be plotting against Mary because she's prettier than her or some other bullshit reason. And the king's bastard son, Sebastian, would be a womanizing rogue who would get between Mary and Francis.
But here's the thing. The main characters in Reign are actually (gasp!) fully formed people with complex motivations that make sense! I know, it's like a fall television season miracle. As for Prince Francis, he has some good points (he believes a man should know a trade) and some bad ones (he sleeps around and is kinda a bitch about it), but is struggling with doing what is best for his country--which may not necessarily mean marrying Mary and allying France with Scotland. Sebastian, Francis' half brother, is all smolder but also seems like a nice guy. I just love a good love triangle. And Queen Catherine, while she does try to take down Mary, it's because she believes in a prophecy saying that Mary will cause Francis' death. So she's really trying to protect her son.
Oh, didn't I mention the magic elements in this? Because the Queen's bestie is NOSTRADAMUS. You know, the seer. According to wikipedia, Catherine de Medici was actually an admirer of his, but who cares. Because there is magic and prophecy in this show and it is amazing. Oh, and there is also some crazy woman running around the French castle with a veil over her face warning Mary not to drink wine with roofies in it and that part is kind of amazing too.
Basically, this show has a large touch of the ridiculous. But it's the Middle Ages and people believed really weird shit back then so it works.
Man, the French royal family looks like a barrel of laughs, don't they? Oh, and the chick in the bright blue? Is the King's mistress. Oh, you crazy French people.
Speaking of ridiculous, the costumes on this show. Seriously, the costumes. Mary and her ladies in waiting look like someone raided the prom section of Forever 21. The entire show is a hodge podge of eras--I am pretty sure I spied some extras wearing some dresses from Gone With the Wind and the Queen of France looks like she wandered off the set of Pride and Prejudice. There is no consistency, but rather than bugging it makes watching the show kind of fun. Like when you would watch Sex and the City just to see what cray cray outfit Carrie was going to turn up wearing. The guys for the most part have pretty standard 1500s wear, but I have high hopes for pantaloons to make an appearance.
There's also a surprising amount of court politics going on here. It's pretty much all in the context of marriage alliance discussions, but still. I was impressed the show is spending any time at all on the current state of affairs in sixteenth century Europe. I am hoping that they will get more into the religious issues (Catholics vs. Protestants) as the show progresses.
In sum, Reign is amazing, ridiculous, and you should watch it. Oh, and if you are a straight dude, there was a controversial female masturbation scene, so there you go.
MORE LOVE TRIANGLES PLZ
Reign airs Thursdays at 9:00 EST on The CW.