Film & Television Reviews

An Ode to The Tudors

51PANLKSwcL._SL500_SS500_Something tragic happened:

I finally finished The Tudors.

I’ve been slowly working my way through it on Netflix over the past couple years, but last month I finally buckled down and watched the entire fourth season in a couple weeks. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Henry dies (um, read a textbook?), and we get to see this lovely montage of clips from earlier seasons as he reflects on his life – and I almost started crying. Because I started feeling nostalgic about the earlier seasons, and all those characters I loved who ended up dead, and I really just want to watch the entire thing all over again because it was that good.

Let’s be honest, historical accuracy? Not this show’s thing. If you’re looking for something completely accurate 100% of the time, you don’t want to watch this. But the thing is, I didn’t watch this show because I wanted to learn about Henry VIII’s reign; I’ve read plenty of books for that. I just wanted to watch some good TV, that just happened to have Tudor England as a backdrop.

One thing I felt like this show did do well was capture the tensions of Henry’s reign, particularly the religious tensions. Throughout the series we see the conflict between Catholics and Protestants, the consequences of England’s break from Rome, the dissolution of the monasteries and the turmoil that leads to. I feel like that aspect of Henry’s reign often takes a backseat to the fascination the general public has for his wives, so it was nice to see the Reformation have such a prominent role since it was probably the most important result of Henry’s reign.

There was also some serious character development going on, particularly my dear, beloved Charles Brandon. At the beginning, Charles was a total player – and let’s face it, I still fell victim to his smirk – but as the series progressed, he matured, turning into the voice of reason for Henry when everyone else acted in their own self-interest. Honestly, Charles was probably the only one acting in Henry’s interests. You know, aside from that time he married Henry’s sister behind his back. Totes awk.

If you’re down with good storytelling and don’t mind sex, historical inaccuracy, and occasional blood, then I recommend The Tudors. If you’re a fan of such emotionally traumatic experiences as Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey, then The Tudors is most definitely your cup of tea.

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3 thoughts on “An Ode to The Tudors”

  1. Lemme just start this comment by saying, The Tudors was a mother-daughter show for me (sah awkward, I know, but she was adamant to “learn history”) BUT we only got halfway through the series because – and this is the absolute kicker – I told her that her beloved Jane died giving birth. She quit the show because of my uncensored spoiler, even though I retain to this day that IT’S HISTORY. THERE CAN BE NO SPOILER ALERT FOR REAL LIFE THINGS.

    Also, have you watched/read Pillars of the Earth? Because if not, I feel, as a fellow historian, this must be remedied like five minutes ago.

    1. After my roommate watched Anne Boleyn’s execution, she was like, “So Mary becomes Bloody Mary, but what happens to Elizabeth?” And I was all, “Um…Elizabeth I?” And my roommate had NO IDEA who I was talking about. The American education system, I swear.

      I haven’t read OR watched Pillars of the Earth, but I need to! I had the book out from the library ages ago, but had to return it before I got around to reading it. I’ll need to watch it after I finish the feels-fest that is Downton Abbey.

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