The Great

The Great is a historical comedy-drama television series that premiered on Hulu in 2020. The show is a fictionalized account of the rise of Catherine the Great, Russia’s longest-serving female leader, from a naïve German princess to a powerful empress. With Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as Peter III. The Great is an engaging and entertaining watch that blends humor, drama and history.

One of the outstanding features of “The Great” is its writing style. The show’s creator and showrunner, Tony McNamara, is known for his witty and irreverent style, which he demonstrated in the Oscar-nominated film The Favourite. “Perceptive, clever and often unexpected, McNamara’s writing keeps audiences engaged throughout the series. The dialogue is modern and contemporary, with the characters speaking in a way that feels authentic in the 18th century while remaining accessible to a contemporary audience.

Another strength of “The Great” is its performances. Elle Fanning is fantastic as Catherine, portraying the character’s evolution from a naïve and idealistic young woman to an intelligent and determined leader with nuance and subtlety. Nicholas Hoult is as impressive as Peter III. He balances the character’s childish, testy demeanor with moments of genuine vulnerability and humanity. The supporting cast, which includes Phoebe Fox as Marial and Sacha Dhawan as Orlov, are also excellent, bringing depth and complexity to their respective roles.

Visually, The Great is stunning. The production design and costumes are lavish and intricate, transporting audiences to 18th-century Russia in a detailed and authentic manner. The cinematography is also notable, with creative camera angles and lighting adding to the overall aesthetic of the show. Also of note is the show’s use of music, using contemporary songs in unexpected and tongue-in-cheek ways to punctuate the on-screen action.

One of the most interesting aspects of The Great is the storytelling. While the show is fiction, it is loosely based on the true life story of Catherine the Great. However, the show takes significant liberties with the historical record, presenting a version of events that is often more outrageous and absurd than what actually happened. This approach to history allows the show to explore themes and ideas relevant to contemporary audiences, while remaining true to the
spirit of the period in which it is set.

Overall, The Great is an excellent series well worth watching. With its clever script, strong performances, stunning visuals and fresh approach to the story, the show stands out in the crowded landscape of broadcast television. Whether you’re a fan of historical drama, comedy, or just great storytelling, The Great is sure to entertain and excite you.


The Great is a historical comedy TV series that premiered on Hulu in May 2020. Created by Tony McNamara, the show is loosely based on the life of Catherine II, who became Empress of Russia in the 18th century. The series features a talented cast of supporting characters, with Elle Fanning as Katherine and Nicholas Hoult as her husband, Peter III.

The premise of the show is simple. Catherine, a young and idealistic German princess, is sent to Russia to marry the unpredictable and volatile Peter Her III, heir to the Russian throne. Catherine soon discovers that her new husband is a childish and cruel ruler who cares more about his toys than running her country. Disappointed and disillusioned, Catherine decides to take matters into her own hands and plan a coup to overthrow Peter and become Empress of Russia.

The series is an irreverent and satirical look at history with a modern sensibility and a cleverly written script. The show’s dialogue is witty, clever, and often snappy, with plenty of joking humor and unexpected twists. McNamara’s writing style is sharp and concise, making the show a pleasure to watch.

One of his most memorable aspects of The Great is his performance. Elle Fanning as Katherine is wonderful, capturing the growth and development from a naive, idealistic young woman to a confident and determined ruler. Nicholas Hoult is just as impressive as Peter III. As a stubborn and immature ruler, he puts on a hilarious, over-the-top performance. The supporting cast is also great, with Phoebe Fox playing Katherine’s maid and best friend Marial, and Sascha Dhawan playing one of Katherine’s best friends, Grigory Orlov.

Luxurious costumes and detailed sets transport the audience to her 18th-century Russia. The cinematography is also noteworthy, with creative camera angles and lighting enhancing the overall aesthetic of the show. Using contemporary music is an inspired choice, using songs like “I Will Survive” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” in unexpected and ironic ways.

The Great is not a simple historical drama, and the show takes considerable liberties with its historical record. While some viewers may object to the series’ cursory interpretation of history, the series is not intended to be a historically accurate recreation of the life of Catherine II. Instead, it uses historical settings as starting points for comedic and satirical explorations of power, politics, and gender roles.

The show’s themes are relevant and timely, exploring issues such as gender, power, and political maneuvering that are still relevant today. The show also has a diverse cast, with actors from different ethnicities and backgrounds playing key roles. This diversity adds depth and nuance to the exploration of power dynamics and how marginalized groups navigate them.

Overall, The Great is a great show worth watching. The writing is clever and concise, the performance is great, and the visuals are stunning. The show’s satirical take on history may not be for everyone, but those who appreciate irreverent and subversive storytelling will find plenty to love. With its unique blend of humor and drama, The Great is an outstanding series that is sure to entertain and captivate its audience. 

3 thoughts on “The Great”

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