. I absolutely loved the first season, and loved, with a few reservations season 2 too. But season 3. Well, I think I can safely say I have never been more disappointed in a show, ever.
There were still things I loved a lot, which is why I saw all of it anyway. Visually it was still gorgeous. The costumes and hair are breathtaking. Not 100% historically accurate, but the wardrobe both reflects a character’s personality, as well as how fashion changes. The acting was top notch too. So good in fact that the actors could sell a particular scene to me, even if the context didn’t work. We got to see Philippe and Fabien interact for the first time, and they had really good chemistry between them. I loved Liselotte and Chevalier budding friendship in season 2 develop into them being basically a family unit, sans the sex. Fabien and Sophie have a tremendous chemistry too. And I feel they did some interesting things with Madame de Maintenon character wise. If anything this show has left me with a long list of actors I really want to see in more things. Alexander Vlahos, Evan Williams, Tygh Runyan, Amira Casar, Elisa Lasowski, Maddison Jaizani, Jessica Clark and Pip Torrens to name a few.
One of the things I have appreciated in all three seasons is that they cast women who are in their 40 who are still allowed personal and sexual agency. Overall, there have been a lot of really good female characters, and though season 3 was weaker in that aspect, it was still there. And most of these women have also acted within the context of their period, with the exception of Claudine, whom I loved anyway, even if she was an anachronism.
But, also a lot of things I didn’t like. I will talk a little about historical shows in general first to explain where I come from. I will talk about the show, with spoilers, the cut. Apologies for being ranty.
First. Any show needs consistent characterization. This is true regardless of the genre. It may mean no character development at all; like a sitcom where a character development would chafe as it would not suit the format. But in other shows, people do develop and are expected to do so. Only, people have to do it in a way that is believable. You can’t just change a character because of the plot, it has to be the other way around. Versailles have been mostly good at this in season 1 and 2, with one notable exception, but so bad at it in season 3.
Second, if you make a historical show, you are kind of stuck with, you know, history. Of course, history isn’t always so clear-cut. For example; no one really knows who killed the princes in the Tower. Both Richard III and Henry VII gained from removing those boys, so it’s perfectly possible to make something in which either king is the big villain.
There also often rumours which may have been around even during a historical persons lifetimes. They are usually colourful, so a show may choose to make into something that really happened because it spices up the story. Barbara Villiers performing fellation on a mummified priest, for example. That made into a rather gross scene in Charles II: The Power and the Passion
. Versailles season 1 and 2 makes use of both tricks, usually, I think, to good effect.
Then there are simplifications of fact for budget reasons, or to make it easier for the audience to follow the plot. For example, once again in Charles II: The Power and the Passion
a number of political opponents to Charles II are made into one single character. Several actors would do very similar things, so it makes the plot much easier to follow if only one character has that function. This happens in Versailles
too where the number of people closest to the king are much smaller and doesn’t change because it’s simply much easier for the audience to follow. Or, in season 2 where the Affair of the Poisons is in a much smaller scale than it truly was. In reality, over a thousand people were involved from all strata of society, and Versailles
simply didn’t have the budget, or the focus, to include it all.
But then some shows make up things which simply didn’t happen. Like in The Tudors
were Henry VIII’s two sisters are made into one single sister who marries the king of Portugal and then chokes him with a pillow. Wait, what? I can’t see any reason for that. It would be simple enough to write off Margaret as the sister up in Scotland, and Mary’s real story was a lot more exciting than the one they made up in The Tudors
. To me, this is lazy and show a complete disdain of the audience. Yes, I know- a lot of people who watch a historical show doesn’t know what really happened and won’t be unhappy. But what is wrong with telling them the truth? Not to mention those who actually know it- clear we are not even worth consideration I can buy bending the truth or different interpretations, but if you are doing a historical show, you have chosen to depict something that once happened. If you just want to make something exciting in fancy clothes you can do a Game of Thrones type of show, which is loosely based on medieval history, but mainly is just, you know, fantasy.
And I feel, in season 3, the writes of Versailles
stopped to even care about real history, treating the audience like idiots, and consistently having character behaving so stupidly I was completely flabbergasted. Shoddy and lazy writing without any pretense of trying to make the characters behave in a way consistent with how they functioned in season 1 and 2.( Read more... )