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I’m not saying America and Great Britain are the only places where historically accurate costume dramas are made (aw hell no!), but I have noticed that the non-English-language frock flicks that are imported to my streaming services are especially low-budget looking. Other countries may have amazing big-budget historical costume TV shows, but they’re not exporting them to Netflix and Amazon!
Maybe the storytelling is brilliant and filled with subtle, nuanced, award-quality acting. Perhaps these series are shedding light on fascinating parts of world history and literature hitherto unknown. I haven’t watched any of them, so I have no idea. Because this is Snark Week, and all we care about right now is poking fun at crappy historical costuming, and any interest in subtlety goes right out the window, bitches! Defend ’em if you must, but you’ll have to admit these things look pretty shitty.
Thus, here are some clunkers you can find right now, in 2020, to mock for yourself…
Find these frock flicks on Amazon, if you dare:
The Adventures of Captain Alatriste (2013–2015)
Set during the 17th century in Spain, this is a swashbuckling series full of leather doublets, long hair, and poly baroque satin!
This series covers the life of Isabella I of Castile from 1461 to 1474, and while I’m totally into the topic, the costumes leave something to be desired. Cue the sad trombones.
Love in Chains (2019)
I’m not sure exactly when this Ukranian series is set, just sometime mid 19th century. It was hugely popular, and money was spent!
Queens: The Virgin and the Martyr (2017)
Folks, I’ve watched the whole thing (only one on this list!) and tried for the past two Snark Weeks to write a full blog post about it. But I can’t, it’s so bad! As someone who loves the Elizabethan period and is steeped in QEI and MQoS history, this telenovela version makes me throw up in my mouth.
Find these frock flicks on Netflix, if you dare:
The Bonfire of Destiny (2019)
I may yet watch this series set in 1897 Paris, and I can’t quite tell if it’s serious or snarkable. Cruising through it quickly doesn’t reveal enough costume content. But I’m not encouraged by this:
A history of General Simón Bolívar, who helped liberate several Latin American countries from Spain. The series starts around 1802, and omg, the costumes are so low-budget, I kept checking the production date to see if the flick was first released in the 1970s.
Cathedral of the Sea (2017)
Set in 14th-century Barcelona, I haven’t looked too deeply into this series just because the subject matter looks boring. Can’t even tell if there’s enough to snark!
La Esclava Blanca (2016)
This has been on my watch-list for a while, but I fear the costumes are gonna suck! Set in 1821 Columbia, it’s about a white girl raised among formerly enslaved black people, and they all get revenge on the slavers, so could be cool. But will I be so distracted by these shitty costumes that I can’t deal?
Eugenie Nights (2018)
We often say if a costume drama can’t get an early 20th-century period right, then they’re really fucking it up. Well, take a look at this series set in 1940s Port Said, Egypt. Someone apparently thinks 1940s = cheap fascinator on the side of a woman’s head.
This murder-mystery series set in 19th-century Istanbul confounds me with low-budget costumes made of shitty materials.
High Seas (2019)
There’s only been one season of this murder-mystery set on luxury ship traveling from Spain to Brazil in 1940s, but it’s already renewed for two more seasons. Despite these costumes.
Thieves of the Wood (2019)
Set in 1747 Flanders, I think we should task Kendra with watching this one! It might be what Frontier (2016-2018) wishes it was — part grubby bandits in nature, part pretty ladies in 18th-century gowns. It might actually be good or so bad it’s good, I can’t tell!
What subtitled frock flicks are you watching on Amazon or Netflix?