My colleague Serena Jimenez often has a nose for a fashion trend. She alerted me to the runaway success of Showtime’s series The Tudors. I’m a pretty poor television viewer, whose idea of great tv is MSNBC’s Lockup series and HBO’s Deadwood (love those expletives). Therefore, I was initially skeptical of a production that featured a hard-bodied, smoldering Henry VIII, and took various other liberties with historical fact. But, over time, listening to her consistently eager reports, I found myself intrigued.
When my husband recently joined Netflix, I had him order the first disc for Season 1. Halfway through the first episode—I was hooked! I have two points to make about this television series. First, the series creators went right after the fact that Henry was a confirmed dandy and fashion leader; diplomats from other European royal courts were ordered to report back regularly on his changes of clothes. Henry’s costumes in the show are staggering, and as the episodes progress, I find myself eagerly waiting for what outfit he’ll appear in next. Second, I love the fact that this is a series in which the male lead is the unabashed attraction and outright sex symbol—along with a spectacular, historically-accurate wardrobe. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a sheer delight and makes wonderful eye candy. There! I’ve said it. The real Henry VIII got corpulent fairly young, but this Henry is all a susceptible viewer could desire. Turnaround time!
So hurrah for Showtime, and the Irish production company that brings us such a breath of fresh air! If this series gets young people, and others usually bored by history, interested in Tudor doings, it’s all to the good. After all, Henry’s mania for a son and heir had a profound effect on the future. The rise of Protestantism in England, and later in America, would never have happened without this monarch’s “palpable” need.