Over the weekend, Starz debuted its new original miniseries The White Queen. The miniseries, which was co-produced with the BBC, follows the true stories (as told by Philippa Gregory) of Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville, and it’s swiftly become our summer obsession. Here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t miss it.
1) It’s Perfect To Tie You Over Until Game Of Thrones Comes Back.
Sure, it’s not set in a fantasy world replete with dragons and White Walkers, but The White Queen is set in medieval Europe during “The War of the Roses.” Now, that’s important for Game of Thrones fans only because George R. R. Martin has repeatedly stated that Game of Thrones was inspired by Medieval history, myths and legends, but specifically by “The War of the Roses,” or “The Cousins’ War.”
Once you get caught up in The White Queen, it’s easy to see the parallels between families warring between each other over a single throne–and to draw parallels between the “bad” Lancaster queen with her vindictive son and a certain Lannister lady and her young king and between the noble Northern born sons of York with some Starks.
2) It’s Pretty Hot. Okay, It’s Really Hot.
In a recent post of the “20 Hottest Sex Scenes In Period Dramas,” we ranked one of the early love scenes between Edward and Elizabeth fairly high and with good reason. The White Queen is stuffed to the brim with romance and passionate love scenes. And it’s not just Edward and Elizabeth who get it on…
3) It’s Not Just About “The White Queen.”
The miniseries takes its title from The White Queen, the first of Philippa Gregory’s The Cousins’ War books, but the entire series weaves the trilogy together.
The White Queen was written about the Cousins’ War from the point of view of Elizabeth Woodville. The next book in the series, The Red Queen, recounts the conflict from Margaret Beaufort’s point of view. The final book, The Kingmaker’s Daughter, focuses on Anne (and Isabel) Neville.
So, it’s actually not just one heroine’s story, but several–and you never know whom to root for.
4) You Can Watch This Show AND Breaking Bad.
Because it airs on Saturdays and Breaking Bad airs on Sundays. See? It’s not like the rest of the year when you have to choose between five different awesome shows on Sunday nights.
You have no excuses.
5) It’s Your First Look At The Next Generation Of Big British Actors.
There are certain films, mini-series and shows like Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, Wet Hot American Summer and Skins that seem to collect a bunch of actors together when they’re young and fresh and then five or ten years down the road, almost everyone in the cast is a major star. They’re “class photo” films.
The last big British example of this (that wasn’t Skins) was this little comedy gem called Starter For 10, which starred then unknowns named James McAvoy (who went on to X-Men: First Class), Rebecca Hall (who was just in Iron Man 3), Alice Eve (who was in Star Trek Into Darkness), Benedict Cumberbatch (who is in everything), James Corden (who will be in Into The Woods), Dominic Cooper (who went on to Mamma Mia! and Captain America), Catherine Tate (Doctor Who and The Office), and Mark Gatiss (co-showrunner of Sherlock).
The White Queen has a fresh and talented cast that feels like they could be the next wave of British actors to show up in everything in five years’ time.
Max Irons has already lined up the Oscar bait film, Posh, and looks poised to land a major franchise. Aneurin Barnard’s just name came up in Doctor Who casting rumors. David Oakes could shift from heartthrob to villain to comedy icon depending upon his whim. Ben Lamb looks like he could be Benedict Cumberbatch’s cuter, softer, less complicated little brother and will be appearing in Divergent. Rebecca Ferguson has already nabbed a part in a movie co-starring The Rock and could easily find herself on a series like Game of Thrones. Amanda Hale will probably sweep up some big awards in the next ten years. Oh, and Eleanor Tomlinson has already co-starred in a major action film and will be in a Pride & Prejudice spin-off next year.
The White Queen is basically a who’s who of who’s going to be somebody in five years’ time.
6) It Was Filmed In Bruges.
There’s not much else to say, but Bruges is very pretty.
7) Aneurin Barnard Is Too Beautiful To Be Richard III.
So, this is how Richard III is usually portrayed. He’s supposed to have a hunchback, a deformed face, and in the case of the RSC production of Richard III with Antony Sher, crazy spider crutches.
However, in The White Queen, Richard, Duke of Glouster is played by dreamy Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard. I mean, they try to ugly him up with some pale lips and under-eye circles, but it’s not happening. Richard III is a dreamboat.
Now, part of the reason why they did that is because the traditional interpretation, as seen in Shakespeare’s play, is the product of propaganda to make Richard look like a villain (more on this later). New research suggests that he didn’t have a hunchback–just sciolosis. Furthermore the sciolosis wasn’t confirmed until after the miniseries wrapped. So, Barnard is supposed to be the new, less spider-crutchy, less villainous version of Richard III.
That said, he’s just too dreamy to be Richard III because he’s too dreamy to live.
8) The Hair Is Extraordinary.
Game of Thrones and Vikings both set off a flurry over braided hair styles earlier this year, and The White Queen not only expands on the types of braids a girl could attempt, but makes hair nets and Princess Leia-style buns look divine. Actually, the hair and the make up team need to be commended especially because Faye Marsay believably ages from 12 to 28.
The one thing that doesn’t look great? Some of the costumes in the first few episodes pull you out of the story because they obviously have zippers and were made by machines, but as the series plugs along, the gowns become more opulent and the men look more dressed to period.
9) It’s Full Of Strong Female Characters.
Television is full of shows with dynamic male casts and maybe one or two compelling female characters. Since The White Queen focuses on the women of the time period, there aren’t just one or two great female characters, there’s about a dozen.
Each female character is wildly different from one another, but they all share one trait: their ambition. Each is out for herself and so it’s easy to see why they’re enemies, but hard to figure out who to root for.
10) No One Actually Knows What Happens At The End.
You’re probably thinking, “Whhhaaaat? But it’s history! I can go to the library and read all about what happened!”
Except you can’t.
At a recent Q&A event for The White Queen, Philippa Gregory explained that there are only five source documents from that time period. Meaning most of the details of that time period are mired in mystery. We may know that a certain famous family “won” the War of the Roses at the end, but we still don’t know how.
Specifically, we don’t know what happened to the “Princes In The Tower.” It used to be that historians were certain that Richard III had his nephews murdered in order to take the throne, but now upon looking at the actual facts, it looks less and less likely. It’s more probable that Shakespeare cast Richard as a villain because propaganda of the time period painted him as such.
The mini-series takes its own liberties with the story, but that’s because no one actually knows how it ends.
[Photo Credit: Starz]