Tag Archives: Pheobe Tonkin

Reign: Addictive Fantasy Disguised As History

26 Jan

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Is it just me or is every new TV show this year staring an Australian. It’s almost as if Hollywood is bored with people from their own country. Pheobe Tonkin stars in The Originals, Sophie Lowe is Alice in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland and not one but two ex-Neighbours stars, star in Reign, the ridiculous new period drama from the CW. Reign is an incredibly cheesy and sexy tale of the early life of Mary Queen of Scots, played to camp and tasty perfection by our first neighbours alum Adelaide Kane.

Threatened by the English, from the moment of her birth, this attractive version of Mary has lived in a convent since she was 9. Then at 15 when another attempt is made upon her life, she is sent to live at the French court with her betrothed Prince Francis. Mary is happy to be back out in the world again and reunited with her four best friends and ladies in waiting, the sexiest of which is played our 2nd ex Neighbours alum the sultry Caitlin Stacey.

Things are looking rosy for Mary, until she learns from her future husband that their union is not certain. He will marry who he needs to, to protect his country and despite her extremely low cut bodices, it won’t necessarily be her. Things only get worse for Mary, as she realises the queen hates her and she develops a burning attraction to Francis’s illegitimate brother Sebastian. And of course no teen drama would be complete these days without a touch of the supernatural, so the show also has a bit of dark magic and fortune telling, the use of Nostradamus as a character, is a particular kind of cliched genius.

In another attempt to capture that ever fickle youth audience, Reign also takes a page out of Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, using modern music in the score, most bizarrely even at balls and dances. The costumes are also particularly drool worthy, if not completely historically inaccurate. Ranging from the 16th,17th,18th,19th and 21st Centuries, creating clothing from the time period is a deliberate non issue for this series and the result is perplexing and captivating. The clothes are so beautiful and flattering to each individual actor and actress, perhaps they decided that making everyone look hot was more important than any attempt at historical relevance.

While this show is clearly more fantasy than history, I admire it for not bothering with the elements of period drama that would stop it from being the excellent addictive trash it strives to be. This is a show that doesn’t want to be nominated for awards or garner critical acclaim. It doesn’t even want to accurately depict the history it’s based on. Mary Queen of Scots wouldn’t be wearing a Alexander McQueen gown.  She wouldn’t have smouldering sexual chemistry with the real life ugly and short prince Francis, and most of all she probably wouldn’t have been an extremely generous and giving person. But why let these facts stand in the way of some good trashy TV.

And that’s what this show is, excellent trashy television. There’s a new love triangle every week, the plot twists and turns enough to be unpredictable and the male leads are often shirtless.  This show is the perfect antidote to far too many series focused on murderous royalty with complex personalities, e.g. Game of Thrones, The Tudors and The White Queen. Sure those shows are perfect when you want intrigue, action and gore.  But sometimes I like my TV to be simple and my characters to be likeable and on those days I watch Reign.