|Ad for 'Reign' showing the fictional|
'Bash' character and inaccurately
portrayed Dauphin Francis.
The show opens with a teenage Mary living in a convent in France and, after an assassination attempt, is sent to live at the French court, where she briefly had spent some time before when she'd first arrived in France as a child. This of course is inaccurate, the real Mary never lived in a convent, she grew up at the French court after arriving there at five years old. I could excuse this though, it made some sense to introduce the audience to the story at the same time that Mary was being reintroduced to the French court. It means that we learn things about the court as Mary learns them, which helps us empathize with her. Although she knows many of the people at court, she is learning about them as an adult and therefore, in a way, she is new to the court and still settling in. It's a good starting point, even if not true.
When Mary arrives at the French court, we discover that she is betrothed to the Dauphin of France, the heir to the throne, Francis. Understandably for a teen show, it centers on romantic intrigue when Francis is already involved with a random pretty girl at court, complicating his feelings for Mary, while Mary herself finds some emotional refuge with Francis' half brother, the king's bastard 'Bash' (short for Sebastian). Meanwhile, the romantic interest of one of Mary's ladies fills a sub-plot while another of her ladies gets involved with the king himself when he encounters her masturbating after covertly watching a princess of France lose her virginity on her wedding night. While it's true that the consummation of royal marriages often required witnesses, the idea that the maiden Queen of Scotland and her ladies could sneak a peek from behind a screen is pretty far-fetched. Even more far-fetched is the idea that one of them would masturbate in the middle of a stairwell. The scene was heavily edited down and is really only suggestive, you're left not entirely confident that's what she was doing because apparently, the show's producers felt that showing a young woman discovering and exploring her sexuality on her own is more controversial than a teenage girl having an affair with an grown, married man.
|The real Francis and Mary|
|Scene showing some of the more inaccurate dresses|
Another romanticized element of this is how much time Mary conveniently gets to spend alone, which of course allows her to have private conversations with Francis and Bash. For the very reason that, in the show, Mary's reputation was nearly ruined when a young man is found in her bed, she equally would not be able to spend so much time wandering around on her own, running into handsome and dashing young men who, of course, fall hopelessly in love with her. In this way, it is more like a fairy tale than history.
While the show might appeal to many for purely entertainment purposes, it's unsurprisingly an epic fail on historical integrity. Still, I can still the appeal as a guilty-pleasure and I support any mainstream entertainment that encourages people, especially young people, to develop an interest in history. If this show gets young women wanting to learn more or picking up books, even novels, about Mary Stuart or French royalty, I hope it runs for a very long time. Perhaps, in that way, it will do for young people what The Tudors did for so many adults, a show that I admittedly loved and that partially sparked my own interest in royal history, despite it's own numerous inaccuracies. Sometimes, a story doesn't have to be historically accurate to be enjoyable and let's hope 'Reign' proves this to be true. I, for one, will continue to watch it if only to see Torrance Coombs' alarmingly beautiful blue eyes again. I never said I was above a bit of eye candy...