Queen Cleopatra Review – a disappointing docuseries about a true female icon

May 9, 2023 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
Romey Norton 12
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
Previous EpisodeView all


A mediocre show with little to offer other than subpar acting and boring lectures, leaving me wanting more and heading to the History Channel.

We review the Netflix Documentary series Queen Cleopatra, which will be released on May 10th, 2023.

Queen Cleopatra is a 4-part documentary series from executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith and hopes to teach audiences about one of our most prolific female rulers, Cleopatra.

It states that Hollywood legend Smith narrates the series, but this is a grand exaggeration to describe her contribution. The first season of African Queens followed the 17th-century warrior Queen Njinga, who ruled over Ndongo and Matamba and received mixed reviews from audiences. (Please note: since the publication of this review, Netflix have changed the title, and it no longer has African Queens in it. It’s now aptly named Queen Cleopatra).

Queen Cleopatra Review

Cleopatra was one of the most powerful and influential women in history, and as someone who is interested in Ancient Egypt, I feel this series is a mismatch of historical inaccuracies, disjointed scene work, and sub-par acting.

Slightly infuriating, this documentary made it seem as if all Cleopatra’s choices were about seducing men, which I feel does her a massive disservice. It’s more concentrated on her love life than her intellect, cunning, determined nature, and Egypt at the time of her rule.

I did enjoy Cleopatra being shown as more vulnerable, giving birth, and becoming a mother, as we do see her as a strong, powerful, complex woman, so this is a nice balance between the feminine and masculine. 

Each episode is roughly forty minutes long. In between the drama, there are many historians in an interview setting, giving information and attempting to set the scenes. Sometimes this works very well. Other times it feels disjointed.

READ: Best Netflix Documentary Series of All Time

Reenactments to support their words works, but when there are full scenes of drama between the actors, this is where the historians’ interjections disrupt the drama and break the rhythm.  

What was disappointing about this series is the hair and makeup. When one thinks of Cleopatra, one thinks about her exquisite look. This leader has money at her disposal and made herself irresistible to people. In this series, the hair and makeup are very plain and underwhelming. 

There has been a lot of controversy about her race, as black actress Adele James (Casualty) has been cast to play Cleopatra. During the time of her reign, Egypt’s population was multicultural and multiracial. Cleopatra’s race was unlikely to be documented, and the identities of her mother and paternal grandparents weren’t known.

Some speculate she was a native Egyptian woman, while others say she was Greek. Cleopatra herself was vocal about being Egyptian and fought to rule over Egypt strongly.

READ: Who plays Cleopatra in the Netflix series?

This documentary states she is depicted differently by the people depicting her, and some refer to her as a black woman. As there is much speculation and Cleopatra’s body has never been found, it still feels as if this documentary is forcing the color black onto her; after suggesting her story has been whitewashed. 

The final episode is the most entertaining of the four, depicting Cleopatra’s downfall and eventual, inevitable death. Cleopatra committed suicide, and it’s still unknown how, but the reasons why are clear.

We see what happens to her children and the future of Rome and Egypt. To this day, we do not know where Cleopatra’s body or burial ground is, and that is fascinating. This episode has a strong pace and finishes the docuseries nicely.

Is Queen Cleopatra on Netflix Good or Bad?

It’s not very good. Overall, it lacks context, personality, and a reason for being made. I think the series would have been more successful with a personal touch from Jada Pinkett Smith or more involvement from her.

Is Queen Cleopatra Worth Watching?

In my opinion, there are much better documentaries available out there on multiple streaming services to teach you about ancient Egypt and the life of Cleopatra.

However, if you are completely new to the history of Egypt and who Cleopatra was, this documentary could be a good start. 

What did you think of the Netflix Documentary series Queen Cleopatra? Comment below.

Find where to watch this and more with our Discovery Tool

Explore Now
Previous EpisodeView all

12 thoughts on “Queen Cleopatra Review – a disappointing docuseries about a true female icon

  • May 9, 2023 at 11:30 pm

    Why is everyone afraid to say the truth. This was cultural apropriation. A vandalistic theft of history based on afrocentrism an veryone that can read a book or has ever gone to a museum of history knows it.

  • May 10, 2023 at 2:49 pm

    Netflix cleapatra annoys me. I don’t have a problem she was played by a black lady it’s all the so called scholars saying she was black this is a lie how do people that ignorant make it that long fooling everyone. Netflix should cancel and take that offensive show off.

  • May 10, 2023 at 11:13 pm

    Absolute Woke Garbage. Blacks stealing Egyptian culture and throwing Facts to the wind.

    0/10 stars. Go F**k Yourself.

  • May 11, 2023 at 12:11 am

    Honestly I thought the clothes and setting was a bit underwhelming. For those who want Cleopatra to be white…It’s shameful.Some people want to take other cultures as their own. Why is that? “White people have no culture.”
    ‘White people do have culture. Their culture is that of colonization. Of genocide. Of taking. Of envy and of fear. The majority of white people can name no more than two generations back in their families. The majority of white people barely know where their grandparents were from, much less who their ancestors were. The majority of white people have no traditions, and the ones we have, are rooted in consumption and the superficial application of organized religion, both of which are steeped in histories of violence.’.-Lorenzo WJ Fox. Egypt is in Africa. Do your homework.

  • May 12, 2023 at 11:25 am

    Sandes’ comment above – please grow up. Get a grip of yourself, you are making huge assumptions. When you balance everything out including people’s strong historical opinions on the accuracy of race, and then you trying to tell quite people they don’t know their ancestry…you are making a fool of yourself. You have taken the chance to comment on the show, as a chance to slate huge people. What’s your deal?
    I’ve watched the show and it lacks cohesion, personality and vibrant/colour (ironically), it’s boring mostly and teaches people nothing new unless they knew nothing about Cleo, and if they nothing before the first look they’re getting is of a falsehood of..well she could’ve been black. Could’ve? Very very very unlikely more like. Actually I’m going to go all out and say it is cultural appropriation, it is blackwashing and it’s just plain misrepresentation. The producers have tried to get away with it – and failed it. That’s it. Get over it. If you haven’t seen if yet, don’t. It’s a waste of time.

  • May 13, 2023 at 10:08 am

    What is all the fuss about someone who lived over 2,000 years ago? Netflix previous series about Queen Charlotte a historical English Queen again played by a ethnic actress, there was zero outcry? However it did have lots of rampant sex in it which maybe made it more appealing? Have you heard ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’? Just a wild stab in the dark here but maybe what was considered to be beautiful 2,000 years ago may just differ from your subjective view today. Most comments here display either blatant or unconscious bias racism. Why does this matter? Which one of you experts lived at this time? How many years have you all been researching this subject academically? Which one of you experts has also been involved in the film industry? I guess the answer to these questions will be none.

  • May 13, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    I just read elsewhere that Cleopatra was the first of the Ptolemaic Egyptian rulers to speak Egyptian. The others spoke Greek. Cleopatra also spoke Greek. Pharaohs in Egypt married their sisters, although I do not know if Cleopatra’s parents were siblings. So it’s not some kind of random guess to say Cleopatra was greek. She definitely was Greek. Her brother was named Ptolemy because they were Ptolemies, who were Greek. Also this reviewer seems to believe that Cleopatra was indeed a beauty. Look at her pictures and coins. She was not a beauty by any stretch, but she was apparently very magnetic, charming and attractive. And on the coins with her face on them, she certainly does not look African.

  • May 14, 2023 at 4:40 am

    By 20 minutes into this production, i had already been told so many times that Cleopatra was black that it seemed the whole point of the show was to debate her skin color. That is most unfortunate as Cleopatra’s story and legacy is not about her skin color. Cleopatra was lost in this “documentary” and that is dishonoring to her. They said in the first few minutes that no man had ever been able to erase Cleopatra’s footprint in time. I felt that by focusing on debating her ethnicity and skin tone, this came close to erasing the persuasive, charismatic, incredibly intelligent Queen that she was. I’ve long been interested in Cleopatra and all of Egypt’s history, have read extensively on it, and have traveled Egypt several times. I didn’t mind the casting but i did mind the insistence on the racial point of view. It was unnecessary and felt more a racial agenda rather than an exploration of a compelling historical figure. I understand why Egypt is upset. Egypt is on the continent of Africa but its culture, history, perspective is unique and different to other countries on the continent. Cleopatra is Egypt’s history and Egypt’s Queen. It would be ideal to depict her as Egypt knows her to be.

  • May 14, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    “Cleopatra herself was vocal about being Egyptian”
    Not really. She was vocal about being Queen of Egypt. That’s not the same thing.

  • May 15, 2023 at 11:06 am

    From what I’ve seen so far the show is full of vague assumptions with little to no basis in historical facts. And no, not just the casting and them claiming she was black. I have no idea where they get their historians. What did Ptolemy XII did that was so important for her to preserve? And yes, Cleopatra did keep up traditions. This idea of trying to make her seem like some progressive icon is just false. So is attempting to paint Rome as conservative hell where women were weak.

  • May 18, 2023 at 10:11 pm

    Absolutely loved it. But change the voice overs from committed suicide to die by suicide

  • May 27, 2023 at 1:55 pm

    Black Little Mermaid, Black Cleopatra, back black black….. Why is everything about Blackness nowadays? Why can’t we see facts? Is a documentary suppose to contain unaltered facts? I’m tired of all these race swapping and virtue signalling. Oh I have an idea why don’t Netflix make a movie about black superman, would be fun to trash.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.