SNARK WEEK RECAP: Maria Theresia (2017) Episode 4

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Starting with our second Snark Week, I’ve picked a shitty frock flick to recap, because I love sharing the blow-by-blows with you. This year, I asked you to choose what film/series I should recap, and the clear winner was Maria Theresia (2017-). This is an Austrian-Czech miniseries about Empress Maria Theresa, Holy Roman Empress and empress/queen of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands, and Parma, beginning in 1741 and reigning through 1780. The series had two (LONG) episodes in 2017, two more in 2019, and apparently a further two more are planned. I’ll recap the four existing episodes this week, and on Friday I’ll do some actual research and talk about what the production got right, and where they messed up, in the costumes.

Check out my recaps of episode onetwo, and three! This episode sticks to the 1740s, ending in about 1749, FYI. Once again we’ve got auto-generated German subtitles being auto-translated into English, so no subtleties!

Von der Trenck and his soldiers have brought Maria Theresa military success, but they do a lot of raping and pillaging too. Soldiers try to bring this to MT’s attention, but she’s hearing none of it and sticks by him.

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Von der Trenck. I believe the leopard? fur hat is accurate, but it still makes me laugh.

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Some shots of the back of MT’s blue française.

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I like how they’ve used a hairpiece, but hid it by working in the actress’s own hair. This is EXACTLY how 18th-century women approached hairdressing.

Things are increasingly frosty with hubby Francis.

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Comfy dressing gown.

His floozies aren’t helping; MT standing by von der Trenck isn’t helping.

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Ok so they’re going upstairs, but I can still mock the floozies for skirt-hiking. It’s Snark Week! There’s no fairness in Snark Week!

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MT wears a VERY formal court dress.

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It’s made of blue satin with lots of embellished lace. The lace sleeves are accurate, however!

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The embellishment reads too modern bridal to me.

MT goes on a Catholic binge, partially (it is implied) because of Francis’s floozies. She and the Head Priest Guy decide to ban prostitution, resulting in raids and women being separated from their children, shorn, and banished. Head Priest Guy isn’t particularly nice about this.

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Sad whores!

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Because whores don’t own clothes, apparently!

MT is on her high horse about morality and fights a lot with Francis about it. There’s also continued war, this time for Bohemia.

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Skirts are hiked!

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I thought this was a good example of what a mid-18th century bust/torso silhouette SHOULD be, to compare with all the times in previous episodes I’ve complained about bad/no corsetry.

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At a ball, Court Bitch #1 gives MT the heads up that everyone is secretly gambling, and that MT’s childhood governess — who is now governess of MT’s children — is shagging somebody. This pisses off MT, who is now the morality police. She goes off on everyone at the ball and fires the governess.

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Chief Floozy (on the left).

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Her dress is okay, but I don’t love that ruched ribbon trim.

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I feel like it needs a fabric ruche underneath … or something?

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Also the random bow at the top of the back pleats is weird.

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Floozy #2.

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We all do a weird dance with arms like this that involves leaning side to side. Don’t get it.

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MT and Court Bitch #1 wear nothing new.

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Badly dressed randos flashing gang signs (which are secret “meet in the orangerie for gambling!” signs).

Head Priest Guy gives MT a list of Francis’s floozies. She confronts Francis with it, and he runs off to do damage control while she gives birth to another child, missing the birth. After the birth she tells him they will live separately and only see each other for state occasions.

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Slight skirt-hiking!

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More demi-skirt-hiking!

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So I think I’ve figured out that the governess is supposed to be the same governess we’ve seen since the beginning of the first episode, who has been wearing this brown dress the entire time. It’s now the late 1740s, she’s been wearing it since the early 1720s. Time to find a new job that pays better, governess!

Sister Maria Anna brings a child who testifies to von der Trenck’s cruelties. MT’s eyes are finally opened, and she has him imprisoned.

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Maria Anna is wearing her court mourning dress from episode 2. Peasant girl has a questionable dress.

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Mom randomly and briefly wears her own (dark) hair instead of a wig. This is the only time. Why?

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MT decides to visit the troops. She finds language barriers and disease are major problems.

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This is what MT wears under that hooded short française.

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MT gets a GREAT riding habit!

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Buttons in back.

MT is REALLY not happy when she finds out (very cold) hoooors are shipped in for the soldiers.

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Time to crowdfund for something-more-than-underwear for Austria’s hoors!

On the flip side, MT has the hots for (and a connection with) the military captain who is her main liaison for this trip. After resisting a few nights in a row, she finally shags him.

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Not bad! Glad to see he got fully waxed for the occasion.

MT goes back to Vienna, and her eyes are now open. Court Bitch #1 apologizes to the governess, and MT reconciles with her too.

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I feel like this might be Court Bitch #1’s same dress she’s been wearing all along, just with purple bows.

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Mom mixing things up with a new-ish stomacher.

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At a garden party, MT seems more like her younger self, flirting and getting along with Francis.

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Random garden hangers-on.

MT announces some good war news, only to faint. DUN DUN DUN, she’s preggers with not-her-husband’s child!

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Head necklace in flight! Afternoon delight!

Maria Anna and Charles have been married off-screen; Maria Anna announces she’s pregnant. Everyone’s happy, but MT has her own problems weighing her down.

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I generally like sister’s brocade/lampas française.

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The matching choker is overkill, tho.

MT confesses her secret to Maria Anna. Head Priest Guy SUSPECTS (insert mustache twirling) and forces Maria Anna to tell him the secret. After much hang-wringing, Maria Anna confesses. MT (and her mom) are PISSED and send Maria Anna away from court.

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Indignant skirt-hiking!

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Mom is rocking a veil.

Now that Head Priest Guy has the goods on MT, he makes her make him the Official Religious Guy for the army. He starts announcing all kinds of “making sure the soldiers are pious” reforms. Francis, who MT has been softening towards and who has been softening towards her, is upset. They fight, and Francis confesses that he’s a Freemason, who are definitely verboten by the Catholic church.

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There’s that weird back trim again.

Mid-way through a war council, MT receives a letter from Maria Anna, who announces her child was stillborn, and she is dying. MT fires Head Priest Guy.

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Head Priest Guy threatens to expose MT in his last sermon. It seems like the Shit Is About To Go Down, when another priest who outranks Head Priest Guy (he’s from the Vatican) steps in and turns the sermon into “yay Maria Theresia!” Big Phew!

MT, mom, and her ladies hatch a plan to send MT to Tuscany for a few months, so she can have her illegitimate child in secret. As they’re spinning the set up, Francis announces that she shouldn’t go, because they’re expecting a Happy Event. He’s covering for the pregnancy and acknowledging the child as his own!

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Being dressed in stays and short pannier.

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Francis has a nice dressing gown, even if he refuses to update his wig or his cravat bow.

MT gives birth, Francis is there and is loving of her and child. The two have reconciled!

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Final dress is awfully busy!

 

And that’s it for recaps … at least until any new episodes come out (apparently some are planned). Stay tuned tomorrow for an Actual Research post where I analyze what Maria Theresia got right and wrong in the costumes.

 

 

 

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

9 Responses

  1. Alexa

    Thank you so much for going all the episodes! I makes me incredibly happy that you chose to do this one (IK there was the poll, but still), given that im from one of MT’s countries. So it’s good to feel backed up when it comes to all the costume atrocities

    Reply
  2. Nzie

    That riding habit really is great! I kind of like the court dress (and I am down with the lace sleeves), but the stomacher bugs me—the beading is very modern bridal, I don’t like the sheen difference on the fabric, and it does look sewn in again to me. But a lot of the stomachers were better this ep again.

    MT and the religious stuff is kind of interesting, from what I read. Since she does seem to have been pretty devout, I have a hard time believing the affair stuff, but who knows.

    Looking forward to the full review!

    Reply
  3. Susan Pola Staples

    Really like MT’s military uniform except for the back buttons. It reminds me of Catherine the Great’s Life Guards one.

    Has MT had Marie Antoinette yet?

    Reply
    • Aleko

      Actually it’s not the buttons’ fault. They’re in the only places where they can do the job that back buttons on a coat historically did do – viz. help anchor the skirt pleats inserted at the side-panel/back panel joins. The problem is that those joins are way out of place, because the back panels are several inches too wide.

      The female habit coat, of course, is based on a man’s coat. A fundamental principle of the cut of the 18th-century-through-Napoleonic-era coat is that when you were tailoring it for a fat barsteward or a fat lady you didn’t widen the back panels – instead, you extended the side panels round to meet them. This meant that the back of the coat stayed snug to the back of the wearer, instead of blousing out between the shoulder-blades as is happening here,

      Reply
  4. Kathleen Julie Norvell

    Is it me or is that short pannier an odd shape? Like it’s sideways? Mine have the curve on the outside rather than the top.

    I find it interesting that the costumes and hair are much better on what we would call a plus-size actress than a smaller woman. Maybe a new designer?

    Reply
  5. Damnitz

    Many thanks for your work.

    The officer uniforms in part 3+4 are looking so new and in most cases ill Fitting.
    I had to smile when I saw baron von Trenck with the empress !!! at his arm (while he is wearing not more then a short and a waistcoat)! What is going on there? The daughter of Charles VI. is so close to a man she hates?

    Is it possible, that I missed something in the timeline. Trenck never was a favourite to the queen and she refused to give him the rank of a Colonel, although his superiors asked her for that favour.
    In Episode 3 Madame de Pompadour is introduced, who became acquiainted with Louis XV in 1745, after Saxony switched the sides (they now were Austrian allies until winter 1745) and the Dauphin married the Saxon princess Maria Josepha. In 1745/46 Trenck even lost many of his supporters in high command.

    Reply
  6. Roxana

    Needless to say there is no historical basis for the lover-illegitimate-pregnancy storyline.

    Reply
  7. Andy

    Wait what? Queen Marie-Therese of Austria having extra-matrimonial affairs?
    Yeah…..no. Even if it hadn’t been wildly out of character for an ultra-catholic, (and not to mention borderline-ascetic) woman like her, she would have been way too scared of both public backlash as well as ending up in HELL after her death to even think about doing anything close to that.

    Reply
  8. Smallcatharine

    MT deserved better than this thing, and I don’t think I’ll watch it.

    Unfortunately you are repeating one of the errors in this production:
    Maria Theresia was not the Queen of Hungary. She was King. Because she was that badass.

    Reply

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