In honor of the sweetness that was the wedding of William and Kate, it is only fitting that I finally post my thoughts on The Tudors.
My love for all things from the Tudor dynasty started at the end of 2008, when I read The Other Boleyn Girl at the recommendation of my friend Dawnie. The book is hilariously thick, but I devoured the pages. I love reading about history, and royalty, but it tends to be very dry, and that rubs the nerves. I figured out I am a fan of historical fiction, not so much the nonfiction.
I’d never seen the television show The Tudors, however, until the idea to get it from the library popped randomly into my head. I got Season 1, watched it voraciously, and immediately put Seasons 2 and 3 on hold. I would’ve made an entry after Season 1, but I was too focused on getting the next and next and next. I decided halfway through Season 3 I would just write an entry about the entire series.
The show is beyond phenomenal. Though to be fair, I’m not watching it for historical accuracy. I know about as much about England’s political history as I do about it’s political present. It’s sad, really. I knew Kate and William were getting married, Harry dressed as a Nazi, and the royal prince wanted to be a woman’s tampon. That’s the knowledge I retain.
Anyway, back to more pleasant matters.
I don’t believe I’d ever paid attention to Jonathon Rhys Meyer. I’m sure I’d seen a picture of him before, but he wasn’t an actor I was aware of, nor were any of the main cast. I did not realize how much pretty I was missing out on.
Henry the VIII was known for being a brutally handsome, charismatic man. I didn’t know this before I started looking into the Tudor dynasty, because if you look at pictures of him, he looks like that creepy uncle you always avoid at family functions. JRM (May I call you JRM? Rawr) plays Henry with a passion and vigor that has to be seen to be understood. It would be very easy to screw up this character. He’s a monster. He beheads people! He orders people to be exiled, burned at the stake, drawn and quartered, and when he didn’t get his way, he forced a religious change on an entire country. He neglected his children because they were girls, hated his wives when they wouldn’t give him a son. There can’t be an ounce of good in this man, and he should’ve been assassinated in Season 2!
But he’s not a monster. A spoiled brat? Dear god, yes. Life lesson in how pandering to your child’s ever need is dangerous? Oh, yes. Reason prenuptial agreements were invented? Boy howdy. But creature worthy of nothing but hatred and murder attempts? Nah.
He didn’t care about anything that didn’t further his cause. King Henry was the original purveyor of “Want. Take. Have.” And he had women, and children, and riches, and war. And he also got his ass handed to him a few times by his neighboring countries. And it’s all spelled out beautifully in these four seasons. But the reason I like this show so much isn’t about the war, and the politics, and the fighting over religious tyranny. This is a show about his relationships, with the political turmoil as filler in between.
Wife number one was Catherine of Aragon, played by Maria Doyle Kennedy. Queen Catherine was a proud, strong lady, who upheld her dignity until the very end. According to history, Henry was devoted to his former sister-in-law, who he married after his brother died.
We didn’t quiiiite see the devotion in show form. In fact, without the showing of any kinds of affection, the pairing was just odd. She’s obviously older than he is, and far too classy and graceful for his younger ways. In a different setting, you’d think he married her for her money. Their breakup was painful to watch, and the treatment of Princess Mary was even worse.
Enter Anne Boleyn. The villain in all the stories about King Henry’s wives. And my newest girl crush. Have you seen Natalie Dormer? I’d have my head cut off for a moment with her. She’s breathtaking, and her acting is off the charts. She is incredible in the role, with all of the charm you would expect from a woman who stole the heart of a King. She was the first person to steal Henry away from married life, and she really was the wind that blew the shit straight into the fan. Whoever played this part had to be brilliant at it, and Natalie was seemingly born for it.
My heart broke at the end of Season 1, because, hey, spoiler alert, she’s not going to be around for long. I rightly assumed she was going to be topless by the Season 2 finale, and that made me absorb every moment of her throughout the season. And what a role she played. The sexual chemistry between Henry and Anne was so believable. But really, who could blame either one of the actors for a real life attraction? Every scene was sexually charged, and when the damn finally burst, it led to the hottest sex scenes in an otherwise extremely gratuitous series.
But I’m not saying all this just because I love love love her sexuality and charm. You felt what she felt. The vulnerability boiling under the surface, her realization that while she had won Henry, she had also opened the door for other women in the court to come in and do the same to her. When she lost the baby after fighting Henry over his latest mistress, you couldn’t help but burn for her.
And then they bumped her off. And we got THIS dreck. I realize that this is who Henry claimed was his real and true wife, because she bore him a son. I also think it’s because she was so DAMN BORING. She kicked off Season 3, which was the weakest season of all. It was depressing.
Nothing much happened in Season 3. They couldn’t show Henry’s fattening up, because JRM is, as previously mention, a sexy motherfucker, and they didn’t want to ruin that. Great job with realism there. So he mostly just became His Royal Majesty Sir Whineypants. The wife died, and aww sad, but hey, I’ve got a son, so who cares?
Then Anne of Cleeves rolls in. Anne of Cleeves is supposed to be hideously ugly. Now, I’m neither a Joss Stone supporter or hater. I don’t care much about her one way or the other. But they did a really great job of making her unappealing. Unfortunately, in doing so, they made her unappealing to the audience. Who cares about a queen that no one particularly likes? Once the divorce was settled and her head was still in tact, she got a little more interesting, but again, total non entity. Season 3 was horrible.
Season 4. Queen Slutty. You really couldn’t help but not like this girl. Young and frivolous and spoiled, you kept hoping Princess Mary was going to haul back and slap the shit out of her.
Season 4 was an upswing from Season 3, but definitely nowhere near as interesting as the first two seasons. Which is a shame, because so much major stuff happens. Henry’s downward spiral into true madness was done beautifully. Everything was falling apart at the seams, and the kingdom was running amuck. Good times, not that I was really following everything that was happening. Again, I prefer the interpersonal.
No one cares about the final queen. Seriously.
I loved the show. And not solely for JRM and Natalie Dormer. It’s corset porn at it’s very best, and no one loves corset porn more than I do. The gowns and wardrobe for all of the court were beautiful, and made you realize why period pieces are so fun. The acting is superb all around, including the young actors who play Henry’s children. Lady Mary, especially. I’d very much like Showtime to keep going, and tell the story of them. That way I don’t have to watch the Elizabeth movies with that horrible woman in them.
So congratulations to William and Catherine. May you have a long, happy marriage. May you be truly happy, as you appear to be, rather than seemingly happy and really miserable, as William’s parents were. And may both of you keep your shape, keep your sanity, and keep your head.