I just watched the first episode of the new 17th century, Louis XIV-focused TV series Versailles — currently airing on the Ovation channel in the US, and coming soon to Netflix for US viewers. As is usual for me, I got questions. Hair and kings communing with wolves aside…
1. The king’s brother has never considered that he could be in line to the throne?
Really? He needs his lover to point this out to him? Is Philippe, Duc d’Orléans the slow one of the family?
(Yes, I realize that most modern people don’t understand things like “royal succession” and so need it spelled out to them. But still. I can be annoyed from a history-snob angle. IT’S MY RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN.)
2. What color was that baby?
The implication is that the queen’s baby may be of mixed race, but that doesn’t look like a mixed-white-African baby to me. Nor does it look like an oxygen-starved baby, which is what is far more likely to have been the case.* It looks like a baby covered in mud, or, more grossly, poo. Yes, we realize that people at Versailles just shit wherever. But I don’t think they shit on newborns.
* Okay, so looking into this: apparently Queen Maria Theresa of Spain had a premature daughter, Marie-Anne (born in 1664), who died about a month later. Later gossip suggested that Marie-Anne had dark, purplish skin, which we would now assume to be from oxygen deprivation. There were rumors after the queen’s death that Louise Marie-Thérèse, “the Black nun of Moret,” may have been Marie-Anne grown up and stashed in a nunnery… but most online sources suggest that this is not very likely. To learn more, check out this Wikipedia article on Louise. For some discussion with actual sources/citations, see Bricktop’s Paris: African American Women in Paris Between the Two World Wars and dig through its citations.
3. Why did the ONE English character have a French accent, when everyone else has a British accent?
Yes yes. We know that many filmmakers use British accents as code for “European.” But if you’re going to NOT do the accents of the setting, then at least be consistent! It makes ABSOLUTELY no sense that the ONE English character — Henriette, sister of King Charles II of England — has a French accent. I realize that the actress who plays her is French. But in a sea of British accents, What the Actual Fuck?
(Just once, I’d like to see, say, an Australian-made movie set somewhere in Europe where everyone still has Aussie accents. I’m sure it’s out there!)
4. Would Henriette, Duchesse d’Orléans really go swimming in a scummy-looking lake? Did we really need to see her nipples (apparently Ovation thinks no)?
On the one hand, for the BBC: I like a nice pair of cans, so I’m not complaining about that. It was just so gratuitous.
For Ovation: REALLY? AMERICANS CAN’T HANDLE SOME NIPPLES? STAHP EDITING OUT THE GOOD BITS!
For both: Really, not only would I not swim in that lake, if I were the king, I wouldn’t shag someone who had just come out of it either.
5. Why the whole “lady doctor”?
UGH. She needs to hang out with “lady gardener” Kate Winslet from A Little Chaos. As a committed feminist AND a lover of history, I would argue that there are better ways to analyze and criticize history from a feminist/gender angle than the whole “token female who wants a male job” thing. I know, broad strokes are needed for people who can’t think critically. But if she’s all ultra-practical and just wants to be a doctor, give her a few more hairpins, PLEASE.
Got answers? Got questions? Let’s dish in the comments!