The Serpent Queen
Based on Leonie Frieda’s biography of remarkable French queen Catherine de Medici, The Serpent Queen chronicles the fascinating life of the historical figure from her tragic childhood to her marriage to the heir to the French throne. Between the notoriety of her family, accusations of witchcraft and the various hardship she faced throughout her life, this monarch’s tale has all the drama needed to fill the pages of a period drama script. However, The Serpent Queen isn’t afraid to have some wicked fun of its own. The first three episodes give a strong first impression of a show that still has a lot more to give.
The programme is primarily told in flashback as an older Catherine (Samantha Morton) regales her life story to a maid she’s taken under her wing. After some brief exposition about her ill-fated childhood, the action picks up with a teenage Catherine (Liv Hill), who’s about to be married to Prince Henri of France (Alex Heath). But with family dramas and political games surrounding the royal court, and Catherine’s inability to become pregnant, she faces an uphill battle to keep her place at the palace. Hill plays the part wonderfully with conviction and a sly, knowing humour, shown through dry one-liners and witty fourth wall breaks.
In fact, the humour is one of the best parts of the drama thus far. The show is animated with an infectious personality and coloured with a dark sense of comedy which plays into the nefarious tales that have hung over the monarch. However, like the book it’s adapted from, the series wants to reclaim the narrative of this figure. “You’ve heard too many stories”, she tells the terrified maid in the first episode – though she could just as easily be speaking to us through the screen. Here, Catherine is a victim of circumstance and desperation rather than a cruel witch.
From the opening three episodes, The Serpent Queen promises to be a darkly comedic and enthralling take on a fascinating historical figure.
The Serpent Queen is released on 11th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Serpent Queen here: