The Great is hella fun, intense and a brutal reimagining of Catherine the Great’s pre-reign and a must-watch in our streaming libraries. Do not give this a miss.
Hulu series The Great will be released on the platform on May 15, 2020. This review of the satirical comedy contains no spoilers.
There’s plenty of content out there that reimagines Catherine the Great, Russia’s longest-ruling female leader, making Hulu’s The Great a hard task to make a formidable series. But then you learn that writer Tony McNamara is behind the work — the man who helped put the screenplay together for The Favourite, transforming Olivia Colman and Emma Stone in unlikely roles and giving us one of the best historical comedies of all time. You suddenly realize that The Great is in… great hands.
The Hulu series is barnstorming fun, dictating to the viewers the obscurity of the times that the characters are in. The Great is glazed in ironic and satirical comedy but it doesn’t hide from the brutal nature of Peter’s rule, bringing a sense of darkness and induced fear amongst his peers. The historical series present Elle Fanning’s Catherine as a timid, shy and naive outsider ready to embrace her Russianness with utmost desire. The story does well to remove what Catherine becomes — she was a young woman with aggressive dreams but wholly innocent before those days come. The Great gives Catherine a character objective — from timidity to ruthless ambitions.
And as for Nicholas Hoult’s Emperor Peter, the actor does well to act as an empty-headed leader that only has a few approaches in his inventory; sex, violence, and ignorance. The Great is filmed with the audience as a passenger, knowing Peter’s inadequacies but having to be subjected to his behavior due to his power. You can sense it cutting through the characters in every scene.
Like The Favourite and its lead characters, The Great is cast superbly. Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult set the Hulu series alight, molding the characters within their spirit and splurging them to the world. Time goes quickly when the pair interact in their opposing and passive-aggressive forms — it’s addictive.
The Great manages to portray the times without diluting the modern comedy genre. The setting and dialogue are not served to patronize — the characters’ actions and their wardrobe represent the times. The Great has power in its writing and it does not need to give audiences a history lesson. Tony McNamara mirrors his fascination with these two characters into the story effectively, and it’s tempting to request that the writer is involved in more series representing historic rulers.
Even the title screen is hilarious; it’s served with an asterisk so the viewers understand that this biographical account is not entirely accurate and that it’s fictitious, just based on real events — just in case you didn’t know…
The Great is hella fun, intense and a brutal reimagining of Catherine the Great’s pre-reign and a must-watch in our streaming libraries. Do not give this a miss. Elle Fanning, please do more dark comedy. We beg you.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.