Broadcast date: 2019
Review, short version: All thumbs down.
Review, long version:
The Spanish Princess, a STARZ production, supposedly tells the story of Catherine of Aragon (daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain), who became the first of Henry VIII’s six wives.
I can’t figure out who would watch The Spanish Princess.
If you’re interested in Tudor history, it’s hard to watch the egregiously inaccurate events, costumes, hairstyles and pretty much everything else:
Left, Catherine as a young woman. Unlike in “The Spanish Princess” (right), respectable women covered their hair with headdresses.
If you’re not interested in Tudor history – why watch?
Unless the point for the not-interested viewers is the nudity and sex?
If so, those viewers are going to be disappointed:
Episode 1: We briefly see Catherine getting out of the bathtub; above-the-waist frontal nudity, full rearview nudity.
Episode 2: We briefly see Catherine’s breasts; sex is alluded to.
Episode 3: No sex, no nudity. But Henry and Catherine engage in swordplay, which appears to be a form of foreplay:
Episode 4: Henry and Catherine engage in bird hunting with crossbows, which also appears to be a form of foreplay. Henry does a scene bare-chested, and he’s buff, but no sex, no nudity.
It may be that the sex-and-nudity thing heated up in episodes five through eight, but I was too bored to watch them.
The problem is that the accurate history of the Tudors as monarchs of England, though short (1485-1603), is fascinating. A lot is known about this era, and there was no need to gussy it up with inaccuracies, exaggerations and flat-out that-never-happened stuff.
One example: Sixteen-year-old Catherine arrives in England from Spain, and meets her intended, Prince Arthur, age 15 and oldest son of King Henry VII. She also meets Arthur’s younger brother, Henry.
While Arthur is portrayed as a pale, skinny wuss – which he wasn’t – Henry is a tall, handsome, muscular young man in his late teens, witty, articulate, horny, and prone to sexual innuendo:
Sexual sparks fly between Henry and Catherine.
When Catherine arrived in England in 1501, Henry was 10 years old.
Another example. I didn’t see this – I read about it online.
The Battle of Flodden was fought between Scotland and England in 1513. Henry VIII was in France, and Catherine was his regent. The Spanish Princess portrays Catherine leading the troops into battle…
Catherine didn’t lead troops into battle. Not at Flodden, not anywhere.
Just two of the myriad reasons for the disclaimer at the end of each episode stating that there were changes for dramatic purposes.
I guess the first eight episodes of The Spanish Princess got decent ratings, because eight more episodes followed in 2020. Amazon has a short summary of each episode, and they all sound pretty insipid, including this one:
Episode 13: 1517-June 1519: When the plague hits London, the court flees to Hampton Court, but Margaret “Maggie” Pole and Thomas More remain in an empty and surprisingly romantic palace.
While the suggestion of anything romantic happening between Thomas More and Maggie is ludicrous – even for “dramatic purposes” – the one good thing that came out of this mess is that Maggie is played by actress Laura Carmichael.
Remember whiny Edith from Downton Abbey?
One and the same!
And good for Carmichael – she gets plenty of opportunity to display her whining chops in Spanish Princess: