August 21, 2013

The White Queen Is Sort of Like Game of Thrones

There's a new historical drama in the neighborhood, and you should go say hello. Starz' The White Queen premiered on August 10. It has intrigue, politics, romance, fierce women, and even a touch of the supernatural. The cable network is betting on the fact that people will flock to medieval dramas thanks to the success of Game of Thrones, and they're probably not wrong.

The series is based on historical fiction novels by Philippa Gregory, but some of the visual cues seem deliberately set to follow in the footsteps of Game of Thrones. It's obvious from the premiere that opens in a near identical setting as the other show - a man stumbling through a snowy forest. Though I don't agree that it's a smart idea to so closely align yourself to another show (you're inviting people to make comparisons like I'm doing now), there is definitely plenty about The White Queen to enjoy.
The story unfolds during the Wars of Roses. In the premiere, we meet King Edward as he falls in love with Elizabeth Grey. His cousin, the Earl of Warwick, is not happy with the match and he isn't alone. You're thrust immediately into a heady love/lust story as well as plots centering on vengeance, greed, and power. One more than one occasion, Rebecca Ferguson's Elizabeth reminded me of Cersei. Her mother, Jacquetta Woodville, could give Olenna Tyrell a run for her money.

Overall, I was impressed with the way women are written in the series given the time period and the traditional role of ladies in the setting. Give Elizabeth some dragons and she'd be a formidable foe.

However - don't overanalyze it. Because the basis of the story is factual, it is easy to fall into the trap of nailing inaccuracies. Try to let it go. I can look over a lot for the sake of entertainment, but I will point out the environment is way too clean. Everyone has perfect teeth. I mean, it's the Middle Ages for pity's sake. Add some grunge and dirt, anything to make it more authentic.

Don't go in expecting the level of Game of Thrones complexity either. The White Queen isn't there yet, but it doesn't have to be. It's solid and worth checking out as it currently stands, and I feel that way after just viewing the premiere. I admit that I'd planned to sort through some papers while watching, but I found I wanted to give it my full attention. Besides, historically, it takes any new series a few episodes to find its feet and I'm more than willing to see where this one goes. Even if it's not quite as strong or compelling as the elephant/dragon in the room, it's good storytelling with interesting characters and that's enough to get me in front of the television.

If you haven't heard anything else about the series, check out the trailer:

Have any of you been watching The White Queen? What do you think so far?


  1. The last episode had just aired here in the UK... It's filled a throne shaped gap in our TV watching! I find it intriguing to know it's based in fact, but there's no hiding the fact that it's fleshed out with drama, mainly as there aren't enough factual details to use. Phillippa Gregory has said she sees the women as heroines, using their influence and power to further their ambition.

    1. Not that I've seen them all yet...

    2. That definitely comes across!

  2. I like it so far. You can't go wrong when you have James Frain in your show (he plays Warwick)! I sorta feel bad for the actor who plays Edward's brother George. He was a bad guy/jack ass in two other historical dramas: Pillars of the Earth and The Borgias. And he seems to be cast as another medieval jack ass...but I guess being typecast is still paying the bills.

    1. James Frain is a wonderful actor! I need to catch up on the second episode before Saturday.

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