TBT: The Tudors – Late to the Party

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So. I had completely resisted watching The Tudors when it aired from 2007 to 2010 and when it went to DVD and streaming, because: Those costumes! Jonathan Rhys Meyers! All the boobs! All I had seen was the first episode, which I didn’t really watch since we were live-podcasting and basically snarking up a storm. But then I went and watched the Jane Seymour episodes for that post, and then I reread The Creation of Anne Boleyn, and I found myself interested in how they portrayed Anne Boleyn, and so I went back to episode 1 and started watching it.

So, I am late to the party. You’ve all been horrified by The Tudors and worked your way through the five stages of grief:

  1. Denial. “There is no such thing as The Tudors. There is no such thing as The Tudors.”
  2. Anger. “WHY JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS? WHY?!!”
  3. Bargaining. “If I promise to be really really good, will you make Jonathan Rhys Meyers 6’2″ and give him red hair?”
  4. Depression. “I will binge-watch this show, because there’s no point, no one cares about history or accuracy or quality. Life is a series of endless rounds of suspiciously waxed bimbos hopping into bed with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. I don’t deserve dresses that come up OVER the shoulder.”
  5. Acceptance. “Hey! I can take up gardening instead!”

But me? I missed the party! Apparently I was stuck in stage #1, ignoring its existence and living out my merry life.

Well, now I’ve been bit by the bug. I want to watch this train wreck and see how it pans out. Give me your barely-covered nipples! Your hot glue gun! Your hairless bimbos! And, now that I’m watching it (I’m about 3/4 of the way through season 1), I Have Questions. To wit:

1. WHY JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS?

Like I said, I am late to the party.

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The almost-off-the-hip pants! Too hilarious!

 

2. Why does Thomas Tallis rate such a massive storyline?

And perhaps more importantly, WHY doesn’t anyone give him a comb?

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New to court. Maybe in his village they don’t have combs.

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Shagging the courtiers. Still no comb.

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Gettin’ all romantic. Still rat’s-nest-y.

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Singing in church. God likes dreadlocks?

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Flirting with the lay-deeze. Who can’t resist your matty, matty hair.

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Proposing marriage. Who could say no to that hair?

Related question: How weedy is his mustache?

 

3. Why is King François I so poncy?

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I know, because he’s French. Still. PONCY.

 

4. In what world does shy, retiring, nearly-dwarf-height Queen Claude look like this?

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More Penelope Cruz than tiny/shy.

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I’m sure Queen Claude would be THRILLED to know that she’s been turned into a sultry hottie who schools men.

 

5. Who told Jonathan Rhys Meyers that dramatic eating-of-fruit was a good acting technique?

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He does this A LOT.

 

6. Will Tudor boxer shorts (complete with cross motif) be included in the next of Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion?

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SERIOUSLY. BOXER SHORTS.

 

7. Why doesn’t anyone wear hats?

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Even when they’re doing hat-worthy activities!

 

8. Why does Eustace Chapuys have a Spanish accent?

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I know. Because the idea of the Holy Roman Empire including more than Spain would make people’s heads hurt.

 

9. In what world does Gabrielle Anwar have a 16th-century look?

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And why do I have to see her nipple?

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SO WRONG. The tan, especially.

 

10. Why does Anne Boleyn have (long, sideswept) bangs?

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Extensions, no doubt.

 

11. In what world is there a regular “new ladies-in-waiting arrival” parade?

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Is it like the running of the bulls?

 

12. How did this ribbon stay dry?

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Did it go where no man has gone before?

 

13. What was with the catching-the-chicken scene?

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14. What happened to the 15ish years of Henry Fitzroy’s life?

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Sorry Henry. I know you died young, but I didn’t know you died THAT young!

 

15. Why was this chick all giggly when her father found her shagging Brandon?

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“Whatevs! I totes wanna be exiled to my family’s estate where I can be the washed up, compromised spinster aunt.”

 

16. Do we really think Henry was brave enough to tell Catherine of Aragon about the divorce himself?

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No way. He totally would have sent a lackey to do this.

 

17. Men: Is it really hot to have a woman show up and just drop all her kit?

Especially if she looks all sad while she does it? I am not a boy. Explain this to me.

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Wouldn’t you prefer a LITTLE bit of seduction? Tease?

 

And, okay, two positive questions:

18. How hot is Henry Cavill?

And if you’re not going for a redhead, wouldn’t HE have been a better Henry?

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rrrrrRRRRRrrrrr

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I like ’em TALL and dark!

 

 19. How badass is Catherine of Aragon?

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I love how she’s all “F this crap, I’m outta here! I’m the QUEEN, bitchez!” Also, I want all of this jewelry set.

 

I’m sorry to make you relive all of this, and I promise to keep you updated on further questions as I continue my meanderings through The Tudors.

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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.

27 Responses

  1. Isara

    Reliving The Tudors was painful, yes, but your snark is SPOT ON. Also, I DIED at #12. Thank you for the giggle on a crappy day.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      I just watched the “I murdered Anne Boleyn, now I wipe dead swan all over my face” scene and I was literally gagging.

      Reply
  2. kathleenlynagh

    I just started watching it yesterday. Kid u not! Good to know there is someone else with the same view. I only started to watch it because a client commissioned me to re-create Ann Boleyn’s pearl earrings. The earrings are great, but the show????

    Reply
  3. arwen swan

    I have thus far managed to avoid the Tudors, partially because it is not one of my favourite periods of history, but mostly because when it came out I was regailed with “oh my gawd, you have to see the costumes!” From my more historically clueless friends. Thank you for confirming my fears and saving me from this show!

    Reply
  4. Julia

    I like to call “The Tudors” candy, it’s pretty to look at but no historical value. Totally agree with all of your problems.

    Reply
    • Andrea Somerville

      I agree the 1st season was playing very fast & loose with history, but Natalie Dormer literally begged Michael Hirst to go MORE historically accurate with her character of Anne Boleyn & he decided Natalie could handle it.

      If you’re even fairly familiar with all the machinations that lead up to Anne’s fall, you do see a real turn around in the 2nd session. Especially regarding certain scenes(Catherine still making Henry’s shirts, Anne’s pleading with Henry while carrying Elizabeth, her arrest & what she said when they came for, as well as her imprisonment & execution speech.) All of those aspects were taken directly from THE ultimate source for all things Anne Boleyn: Eric Ives’ The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn.

      Of course it’s still just a soaped up tale of it all & by season 3 Michael Hirst reverts back to playing fast & loose with history, amping up the sexual side of it all.

      I LOVE this time period & know the details pretty well from reading Ives & Allison Weir, etc…while it irked me to see such a fantastic tale on its own made into basically a soap opera, I can appreciate it for what it is.

      Now, I’ll give it to Michael Hirst that he’s at least come a long way from soaping up for tv’s sake actual historic events, particularly with Vikings. The costumes are by the same designer who worked with Hirst on The Tudors, but she clearly did much more research this time. They’re not 100% accurate, but a great deal closer than her work on The Tudors.

      Trust me, if y’all think The Tudors is preventing you from objectively watching/snarking Vikings: think again. Michael Hirst learned his lesson & it shows. Besides, Vikings is doing much better than The Tudors ever did ratings-wise & it’s been renewed for another 2 seasons(6 total, compared to The Tudors’ 4 seasons.)

      Reply
  5. coracaecilie

    Perfect! Spot an and your timing couldn’t be better. This afternoon I was like “mh…something funny to watch whilst my brain is occupied?” and started the second season. Today’s favourites were giant taffeta ribbons on the back of a bodice without any chemise underneath, but a pretty 19th century underskirt. You can’t say this series isn’t entertaining :-D

    Reply
  6. Denise Hansen

    Brilliant! If you haven’t reviewed the series “Reign” yet, you have to. The costumes are beyond historically inaccurate. Think prom dresses and “Gossip Girl”.

    Reply
  7. Isis

    I just watched long enough to come to the meshed Margaret/Mary Tudor and the King of Portugal and then I couldn’t stand it anymore. Now you have shown me Tudor boxers and I’m probably scarred for Life.

    Reply
  8. rowsella315

    I have to echo the horror of Reign. I had no idea they did boho looks back then . It is absolutely bizarre. Just about every century and decade after 1900 is represented.

    Reply
  9. Jenny Ketcham

    The Tudors…still in my Netflix queue…been there for four years. So I’m even later to the party than you are. I just couldn’t get past that JR-M hardly ever seems to have his biceps covered in the clips…even when wearing a doublet! Does Hank 8 have some sort of debilitating skin condition?

    But thank you for saving my eyes from that Gabrielle Anwar white number!!!! How horrible was that? May pass my former “Most Half-hearted Stab at Period Wear” title firmly held up to that point by anything Shannyn Sossamon wore in A Knight’s Tale (2001).
    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2510592256/tt0183790?ref_=ttmd_md_pv

    Reply
  10. Annie Buck

    I admit, I watched the entire series over the course of a month. There’s a lot of Charles Brandon hotness going on, and it was totes fun to constantly turn to my husband and say – “Oh! OH! That is NOT RIGHT!”, then go into a pedantic explanation of why whatever wasn’t historically accurate. I bet he hates it when I use the expression. “That is not historically accurate!”. Anyway, the thing that bothered me so much was Catherine of Aragon with her black hair and dark skin. Maria Doyle Kennedy was a good actress, but she looks nothing like the real Catherine with her red hair and pale milky complexion.

    Reply
  11. Danielle Nicole

    Another thing I noticed that was wrong about Anne, was that in this show has long curly hair. In reality she had long, pin straight hair, and it wasn’t black. It was more of a golden brown.

    Reply
  12. Yvonne

    I have to admit I kinda loved the Tudors. Granted this was before I discovered historical costume accuracy, but I still don’t let it bother me too much. I think Rhys-Meyers was hot. Anne Boleyn was hot. The redhead was super smoking hot (I’m a woman but appreciate beauty in all its forms ^-^) The fact that it was even vaguely historically accurate made it more interesting than a history textbook on the period. And I admit it was pretty much a soap opera of history (at least it’s not so horribly soapy as Reign, even I have limits lol). Plus Sam Neill and James Frain! :D

    Reply
  13. ladylavinia1932

    Of course it’s still just a soaped up tale of it all & by season 3 Michael Hirst reverts back to playing fast & loose with history, amping up the sexual side of it all.

    Henry VIII’s life was a soap opera filled with violence, misogyny and sex.

    But I’ve always had a soft spot for “The Tudors”. I found it entertaining. Jonathan Rhys-Meyer didn’t look like Henry, but dammit, he did a pretty good job of capturing the monarch’s personality. Best moment of the series? The last meeting between Henry and BFF Charles Brandon in Season 4. Rhys-Meyer and Cavill acted the hell of that scene in different ways.

    Reply
  14. Stephanie

    I just started binge-watching this series too. I find the lack of underwear (chemises) for the women especially disturbing. In a few episodes, the King is wearing a doublet without a shirt! WHY?! At least the costumers had the good sense to have Queen Katherine wear the proper underwear (thank God). Perhaps it was a way to show that the Queen was a lady in all respects, while everyone else were harlots who didn’t have the good grace to wear a flipping chemise? Also, the hats and hair styles are horrible, and the lack of hats in certain scenes inexcusable. I am watching to see when Anne gets what’s coming to her, then I am done with this series.

    Reply

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