The Serpent Queen Part 1 is the first instalment of an American historical period drama TV miniseries revolving around the life of Catherine de’ Medici. Created by Justin Haythe, the miniseries is based on the 2004 non-fiction book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France by Leonie Frieda.
SP O I L E R S
The premise of The Serpent Queen is as follows – the series follows Catherine de’ Medici, who marries into the French court as an orphaned teenager expected to bring in a fortune in dowry and produce heirs, only to discover that her husband is in love with an older woman who cannot conceive children. She manages to keep her marriage going, and rule France for thirty years.
Entitled “Medici Bitch”, The Serpent Queen Part 1 introduces us to Catherine, orphaned at a very young age and raised in a nunnery in Italy. Her family name would be familiar to historical buffs – one of the most powerful families in Italy of that time. In the nunnery, Catherine (Liv Hill) is claimed by her uncle Pope Clement VII (Charles Dance) so that she can marry Prince Henry, second in line to the French crown. Catherine’s life is immediately transformed but it’s no fairy tale.
The Serpent Queen Part 1 is told in flashback by Queen Catherine (the titular character) – played by Samatha Morton. Her son is about to be crowned King of France, and it’s clear from the introduction that she is feared by the household. The teenage Catherine is brilliantly played by Liv Hill, and her strong, distinctive personality shines through, underneath her less than good looking veneer. An independent thinker, who is intelligent and quick on her feet – she is definitely a woman of her times but survives with her superior wit. In addition, there is a post-modern characterisation here as Catherine frequent breaks the fourth wall, to address the audience.
The Final Analysis
The Serpent Queen Part 1 is a highly promising period drama and we are certainly looking forward to the remainder of this 8-part miniseries. Recommended!
Now streaming on Starz.
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