Catherine the Great (HBO)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Bold move by the screenwriters making Catherine the Great suck.

Quick synopsis: Part of Catherine the Great’s life but not really.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: You can watch the first episode. All of it is exposition in a very distracting and terrible way.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: Don’t watch this if you are a history nerd. You will lose your damn mind.

My Take: Chernobyl was really good on HBO. This is not.

Small confession up front. I am not a professional TV critic. Please hold your shock. This is a good thing because I only had to watch the first episode of this miniseries and then I could walk away. I did.

The first episode is just one gigantic and annoying exposition dump and not even a good one at that. Exposition is important in catching the viewer up on what is happening and who people are. However, when a character explains something to another character you need to be careful not to pull the viewer out of the moment by doing something stupid. Such as, it makes no sense to have a character explain to Catherine the Great her own life. SHE IS CATHERINE THE GREAT. SHE KNOWS HER OWN LIFE.

Another example: multiple characters talk back to Catherine the Great. That would not happen in Russia during this time. You’d be killed. Catherine the Great was (comparatively) humane. It’s Russia, though.

Another problem: Helen Mirren is an amazing actress. However, she is also not young. I spent the entire episode trying to understand when this was all happening chronologically because the details were all over the place and Helen Mirren looks her age.

I finished the first episode, dear reader. I am sorry, but I refuse to go any further. I’ll probably watch one of the recommendations at the bottom all over again.

Verdict: Don’t. Just don’t.  

If You Liked This Then I Can’t Help You. If You Want Something Good:

  • Chernobyl
  • Saints & Strangers
  • John Adams
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Catherine the Great (HBO)
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