I've just finished the second season of The Tudors, and it's been exactly the same guilty pleasure as watching its first season or any season of Rome. It's great fun to see the beautiful costumes and the hyperbolic acting (John Rhys-Meyers, please cool it, will you). At the same time, however, you just want to smack them on the head with the Encyclopaedia Britannica, for all the historical inaccuracies they throw in just because. Margaret Tudor, especially, must be rolling in her grave for being merged with her sister and being portrayed like such a superficial $"·$%. As for the Atia of Rome, if there ever was such a thing as vengeful Roman ghost, I'm sure she will be there, holding a devout matronly rolling pin. (Of course, anyway, nothing will ever, ever, beat Braveheart becoming the father of Edward II for the sake of having Sophie Marceau squeezed in and having something of a happy end).
I'm not going Taliban on these people. Heck you have to film a movie or do a TV show, and I suppose nobody expects total accuracy when you have a limited budget and a limited time to stuff all the stories in. But if there is something that people like Simon Schama has proven with stuff like A History of Britain is that there are enough good stories in the history books to make such distorsions not terribly necessary. The problem, I think, is that there might be less boobs around, which seems to be the whole point of The Tudors and Rome at times. But oh well, being fun to watch as they are, all you can say is, bless Wikipedia for at least a few people in the audience will bother to check the facts out of simple curiosity, and that's good. The show becomes quite interactive that way -- at least for me. I'm becoming a complete expert on royal mistresses, who are all quite a curious bunch, what with all their ambitions, beauty (or lack thereof) and, more importantly, not giving a flying %&$%% about society's conventions. My favorite, so far, is Charles II's Nell Gwyn, if nothing else for this beautiful, beautiful scene, taken straight from the wikipedia article on her:
- Nell Gwynn was one day passing through the streets of Oxford in her coach, when the mob, mistaking her for her rival, the Duchess of Portsmouth, commenced hooting and loading her with every opprobrious epithet. Putting her head out of the coach window, "Good people", she said, smiling, "you are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore"
Oh how I wish The Tudors got spin-offed all the way to The Stuarts! In any case, I'll certainly watch the third season of The Tudors next year, even though I'll miss the great Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn --she didn't look a thing like the historical Anne but hey she definitely can act. A lot of the weight of the show fell on her shapely shoulders and I worry that the actress they've chosen for Jane Seymour -- and, well, the character of Jane Seymour itself-- will not be enough to fill the space of Anne's severed head. Unless they go on to create a completely different Jane out of nowhere (see above), or dispatch her in a couple of episodes. And on with more interesting stories, such as When Good Portraits Happen to Ugly People.
Ps. One day, I hope, someone in Spain will do The Austrias. Now that's fun stuff for at least seven seasons.