So I got a few votes here and on G+, and the verdict was that I should write about Reign, the pretty-people drama about the early life of Mary, Queen of Scots. I have written about Mary in a previous Movie Monday, so you can check that out if you want to.
I’ve only watched the first episode (maybe two by the time this article gets done), but let’s talk about the obvious things first:
- this is a romantic drama show looooosely inspired by the life of Mary, and bears very little relationship to the actual history apart from the sort of general premise.
- And that’s OK.
At the same time, I’m still going to point at some of the changes because I find trying to figure out the train of thought interesting.
Let’s start by talking about the accents. There were three ways that the show’s creators could have approached the question of Mary’s accent:
- They could have given her a Scottish accent, for sentimental purposes. This would have been silly in a way, but roughly consistent with the idea that her character is, you know, Scottish. This is the obvious approach.
- They could have given her a French accent. This is the “interesting historical fact” approach. Mary’s mum was French and she lived for years in France. Presumably these conversations are happening in French, and this would be incongruous enough to be jarring. This is the approach taken by Liz Lochhead in Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, in which Mary speaks in kind of a weird Scots-French hybrid.
- They could have given her an Australian accent, since the actor herself is Australian. This is the approach taken by Mary of Scotland, where Katharine Hepburn just uses her own voice, or at least her own stage voice. This is the “minimal interference with the actor” approach.
Instead, they do none of these things, giving her an English accent instead. You guys don’t need me to tell you that this makes no sense, right?
They change the names of some characters in a way that makes obvious sense — in reality, all four of the noble women who accompanied Mary during her time in France had the same name: Mary Beaton, Mary Seaton, Mary Fleming and Mary Livingston. It makes sound dramatic sense for them not to do this.
They change things to be sexier. For instance, Nostradamus was in his 50s at the time of this show, but he is presented as a younger, better-looking guy, because the CW.
Certain characters have been removed, including most of Mary’s court, presumably to build up the theme of Mary being a stranger at court rather than a visiting dignitary with a substantial entourage. I think Antoinette de Bourbon would have been a fun sharp-tongued old grandma character a la Game of Thrones.
No one mentions the idea that Mary is queen of England, an idea that was important to the French.
Now, this is not a history lesson, it’s just a derpy fun TV show. It’s not really my kind of derpy fun, though, so I don’t know if I’m going to persist with it unless something really weird or interesting happens in the next few episodes.