If you think The CW's period drama based on the life of young Mary, Queen of Scots is just an excuse to watch a bunch of pretty people prance around in corsets and codpieces, you're not far off. Reign has been described as a cross between Gossip Girl and The Tudors, but unlike Showtime's steamy take on Henry VIII, Reign doesn't even pretend to be concerned with historical accuracy. It plays fast and loose with history, much in the same way that True Blood regularly diverges from its source material, and both shows are better for it.
The politics of 16th-century royalty are ripe for exposition. After all, what's more high-stakes than a country on the brink of war and an alliance that hinges on the marriage of two teenagers? Not to mention the love triangle brewing between Mary and the king's two sons: Francis, the future king, and Bash, the tall, dark illegitimate brother who looks like a young Alan Ruck. Throw in a conniving queen, a squinty-eyed Nostradamus, a lothario king, and a mysterious figure who lives within the bowels of the castle, and you've got yourself some grade-A melodrama.
Once you get past some of Reign's more creative historical interpretations, like the fact that the central characters all have British accents despite being comprised of French and Scottish royalty, it's a really fun, addictive show. Anyone who bemoans the historical inaccuracies should remember that they're watching The CW. I'd sooner expect to see a show about breakdancing orangutangs on this network than one striving for accuracy of any kind--historical or otherwise. One of the show's cast members likened Reign to "historical fan-fiction," which is a fairly apt comparison. Let's admit, it's more fun this way. Anachronistic costumes? Sure! Modern electro-pop soundtrack? Why not! British accents for everyone? Might as well!
Reign is shamelessly soapy, while still managing to keep its momentum going with actual plot. The first two episodes set the stage, but after episode three, I think the show has really started to hit its stride. On a network littered with derivative paranormal-themed dramas, Reign stands out as The CW's most promising new show. Having recently promoted it on my DVR list from "Meh" to "Must-watch," I'm really excited to see how the rest of the season pans out. It may not be a perfect reproduction of historical events, but I'm rooting for this show to have a long and healthy reign.
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