I’ve had several of you ask me in private what I think about this upcoming miniseries, so I may as well chronicle my reaction in public: it includes loud screaming.
I read this book (The Constant Princess) about 12 years ago and it made me angry. Normally, I don’t sanction book burning, but I watched my then-BFF set fire to her paperback copy with a morbid fascination. My opinion of it has not changed. I had a feeling at some point in the far-flung future I’d see this on the big or small screen and alas, that day has come.
And… just around my birthday. Somebody upstairs really hates me.
If you’ve known me more than ten minutes, you know I hate Philippa Gregory novels. I hate that they take every nasty rumor about historical figures and make them “true.” I hate that all the women are constantly back-stabbing each other to get ahead (there are no good / solid female friendships, just rivalries… over and over and over… through every damn book). I hate that her men are all assholian rapists (King Edward, King Henry VII <- that one especially chaps my butt; the screenwriter who adapted The Other Boleyn Girl went along with the theme and made Henry VIII also a rapist) or total doormats. I hate what she’s done to Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth of York, Katharine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Margaret Pole, and Elizabeth I.
And yet, I will watch this because I have to know what kind of total BS is being fed to people through the miniseries, which then I will have to deal with on Tudor-related message boards. (I got sick of answering, “But Margaret Beaufort did not murder the Princes in the Tower!!!”after the last adaptation.)
I intend to watch / review this, if I can stand it. And I will do my utmost to be fair, because not every adaptation is all-bad or all-good. I actually liked The White Queen despite my extreme anti-PG bias, because the writers were so good, they made me invest in and care about the characters, causing me to transcend feeling infuriated. (That’s what a collaboration with the BBC will produce; the awful sequel, The White Princess, was produced “only” by Starz.)
Rather than wait until May to unleash my torrent of opinions, here’s my reaction to the second official trailer. Sober, too. Because I don’t drink, but honestly, to make it through this series, I may want to start. 😉
First, I will give them points for casting a redhead. She doesn’t exactly fit the descriptions of Katharine (among them tiny, she was probably five feet tall or less, round-faced, and considered beautiful) but at least she ain’t raven-haired. The Castilian Spanish were light skinned, blue-eyed, and usually fair-haired, like her mother Isabella. Like this, one of the few portraits in existence they think is young Katharine:
But the costumes make me go ?? Did no one look at portraits from this period? You did not wear wooden-hooped farthingales on the outside of your clothes!!!
Why is Henry VII bearded? This is such a simple thing to get right, so why is it wrong? This king never had a beard. LOOK:
And if you are giving poor Prince Arthur that unfortunate bowl haircut, in fairness – his father and younger brother need to have them as well. And… I’m a little concerned by the tone of this trailer that they’re turning Henry VII into a frightened boy; yes, it was important for Katharine to come to England, and create an alliance with Spain against their enemy, the Duke of Suffolk, but England was not “lost” without her. Henry VII played “banker” to all the kings in Europe, so most of them were courting HIM for his money and support, which meant England did not have no bargaining power. Ferdinand needed Henry as much as Henry needed Ferdinand, since Ferdinand wanted financial assistance against the French. Henry was cautious but also hilariously self-assured — every time he faced a potential usurper or invasion… he bought a new wardrobe. I guess if you may be deposed, you’re going to go out looking like a king, yes?
Back to the trailer. I hope Katharine is “mourning” at a church ceremony in private, and not at Prince Arthur’s funeral, because monarchs at this point in time did not attend funerals (from what I have been able to read on the subject, they did not want the common people contemplating their death and thus were conspicuously absent) – and she was far too ill to have attended, even if it was allowed. Katharine did not attend Arthur’s funeral and may not have even stopped to mourn at his grave on her return to London.
This trailer doesn’t give you the impression she meets Prince Harry right away upon first reaching England; the first one does. If so, 10 year old boys were certainly much taller, hotter, and more mature in Ye Olden Days. 😉 But again, nice to see a redheaded Henry, unlike Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. =P Aging him up (if that’s what they are doing) is actually an improvement from the book, where little H8 was kinda lusting after KoA as I recall, and it was “ew” since he was literally 11.
Don’t remember if PG’s heroine is this ballsy or not, but the real KoA was a consummate diplomat who would never show her hand like that (“I came here to forge an alliance with England and that is what I’ll do”). Contemporaries said she took more after her father, Ferdinand, than after her mother. Isabella had a temper, blatant ambition, and often tipped her hand; Ferdinand was “sly as a fox,” and one person said Katharine had his skill of “smiling into the faces of her enemies.”
It looks like Elizabeth of York is the antagonist of this series, and working against Katharine. IRL, Elizabeth of York and Katharine of Aragon were BFFs. Kat desperately needed a mother figure, and Elizabeth gracefully stepped into that role. She (meaning both of them, actually) was also friendly with Margaret Beaufort.
I’m wondering if Margaret Beaufort is going to get as big a shaft here as usual – for some reason, PG seems to especially hate her guts and has turned the highly educated feminist into a loathsome, manipulative, murderess. And I cannot fathom the reason why, because the real MB is one of those women in history you read about with your jaw on the floor, she was that awesome.
Props to them for including Catalina, Katharine’s black lady in waiting. I am actually a little peeved about it, because I wanted to write her into one of MY Tudor novels, and now it’ll look like I’m copying so – I guess I have to flush that idea down the toilet. 😛
Pretty sure I saw a glimpse of a DARK-HAIRED Isabella of Spain behind that sword. I just… ?
That is Queen Isabella, folks. Ferdinand had dark hair, Isabella was BLONDE.
THIS, THIS IS THE PERFECT ISABELLA OF SPAIN.
This is the main cast of the Spanish series, Isabel. I’ve seen a handful of episodes, and when they introduced Ferdinand, I almost cried, because they cast them PERFECTLY. The actress is fiery, impulsive, temperamental, and very much “I do what I want” (as Isabella was wont to do) and Ferdinand is laid back, diplomatic, intelligent, and shrewd but in a totally likable way. AS THEY WERE IN HISTORY. AND THEY LOOK JUST LIKE I IMAGINE THEM. 😛
So, there you have my first response. I am sure, many more will follow…