I watched this whole show over the course of like 3 weeks @_@ and I watched the first 7 episodes over again on my flight back from Korea ^^
The show tends to be broken by season, so there isn’t really an over-arching series plot. I’ll give a rough description of each season for you:
This historically loose but visually lush series toasts the world of the Tudors in the days when King Henry VIII was a handsome and charming 25-year-old with athletic abilities and sexual prowess. The young king indulges his voracious taste for ladies-in-waiting, hangs out with his entourage of nobles and makes momentous political decisions.
That’s the NetFlix breakdown, so it’s kind of vague… Basically season 1 of the show begins near the end of the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon, his first wife who could only produce Princess Mary successfully amongst dozens of still births. He is seduced by the Boleyn family, first Catherine and then her little sister Anne. Anne manages to keep Henry VIII’s attentions exclusively on her while withholding sex. Henry decides to divorce Catherine in favor of Anne and, to accomplish this, makes a break from the Catholic church in Rome. Season 1 ends with the death of Henry’s wicked Cardinal Wolsey.
In the second season of the hit series, King Henry VIII secretly has his marriage to Katherine declared invalid and weds Anne Boleyn, prompting the pope to excommunicate the king. Meanwhile, some of Henry’s old friends and allies fall out of favor.
Season 2 is almost entirely about his relationship with Anne Boleyn. Henry first weds, then slowly begins to fall out with his new wife. As Anne becomes more and more overbearing and steers the king to have her political enemies executed Henry meets Lady Jane Seymour. She is the refreshing aspect of his life, eager to help the king back from his bloody path. Anne is arrested and charged with adultery, a capital offense. The season concludes with the execution of his second wife and marriage to Lady Jane.
The sexually insatiable King Henry VIII romances third wife Jane Seymour and ruthlessly quashes an uprising of rebels protesting England’s break with Rome in the third season of the drama. But distension within his own ranks leads Henry to question the loyalty of his closest allies.
Another bad description I think. Henry’s relationship with Lady Jane Seymour is (as anyone who is familiar with Henry VIII knows) very short. After successfully giving birth to a son Lady Jane dies, leaving Henry heartbroken. Season 3 follows through his mourning of Jane into the marriage (and subsequent divorce) of his short-term wife and long-time friend and “sister” Anne of Cleves. He also is introduced and falls in love with fifth wife Catherine Howard. In this season King Henry’s daughter, Princess Mary enters as one of the lead characters. She is devoted to the memory of her mother and secretly Catholic, prompting a close alliance with the Ambassador from the Holy Roman Emperor (her cousin). Later in the season Princess Elizabeth (Anne’s daughter) also begins to make appearances.
Season 4 is pretty much Catherine Howard and the end of King Henry VIII’s life. In some episodes Princess Mary is more of a lead character, and Princess Elizabeth appears a little more. The show ends with the death of King Henry VIII. In the last episode he begins to see flashes of his dead wives.
The acting in this series is absolutely incredible. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays King Henry VIII excellently (though Henry never looses his perfect fitness, unlike in real life). It is kind of ironic that Henry VIII is being played by a Scottish actor (England and Scotland were enemies traditionally), but his accent is excellent.
My personal favorite actors of the series are Henry Cavill (who plays King Henry’s closest friend Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk). He is a major player in each season of the show. Not only is he fun to look at, but his character shows the most growth in the series. My other favorite is Sarah Bolger, who plays the Princess Mary. She does an INCREDIBLE job, and she holds the role from when Mary was around age 12 to when she is supposed to be in her early 20s, and fits the role perfectly at all times.
Every now and then you get metaphorical scenes that don’t really make sense, and one of the last scenes of the series (the one with the horse, anyone who has seen the show will know what I’m talking about) is downright corny, but overall it is an excellent job. The style is not anything impressive or new, but he does a flawless and natural job, so you never notice a scene cut and it all feels as though you really are watching this live.
The costume director needs an award… now. The costumes here are absolutely gorgeous. Each Queen has her own style that lends itself to how her personality is supposed to be. Catherine of Aragon was very dark and serious, Anne Boleyn was sleek and sharp, Lady Jane was soft and bright, Anne of Cleves was darker and a mix of styles, Catherine Howard’s clothes were too big and too bright, like a child playing dress-up, and Catherine Parr is very simple. I absolutely loved the dresses on the female characters. The guys were a little repetitive, but still interesting to watch. My only issue is that a few of the dresses Anne Boleyn wears look nothing like a dress that would be worn in the 1500s in England…
This show is no where near historically accurate, just a warning to history fans. You get the basics of major events, but a lot of stuff is glossed over or simply left out. If you can accept the mistakes then you should have no trouble enjoying the show.
Each season description goes out of its way to point out how King Henry was focused on sex. In reality there isn’t as much sex in the show as you would expect. Yeah, in some episodes you see a lot of skin, but I’d say that maybe every season there are 2-3 episodes that have a strong sex scene or multiple sex scenes within the episode. Other than that it is dialed down a lot. As the series progresses (with the exception of the episodes dealing with Catherine Howard) there is less and less. A warning though: in Season 4 the sex scenes with Howard start to look like something from a porno. In that season I’d say you have maybe 4 sex-heavy episodes.
All in all I REALLY enjoyed this show. The costumes were beautiful, the sets incredible, and the acting phenomenal. I know that the show was mainly about Henry VIII’s reign, but I really wish they had decided to continue through Prince Edward’s short period on the throne and at least through the reign of Princess Mary. They don’t necessarily have to show the reign of Elizabeth, since there are already many shows and movies about that, but I would have liked to see more of the other two kids. Other than that though this was a brilliantly done show, absolutely incredible.