TNT’s Will WTFery


Out goes Reign, in comes Will, the new Adam Ant Shakespeare bio-series from TNT. I guess there is about to be a big gaping hole in the “we are consciously not giving a fuck about historical accuracy” genre?

Snarking this show is going to be shooting fish in a barrel, but because we only sometimes have standards here at Frock Flicks, let’s load up the old fish-shooter. We’ve been tracking this show since just before Snark Week, and clearly it’s going to make next year REEEEALLY easy…

First, I’m “excited” to see from the trailer that they’re including the ever-classic dialogue:

Colm Meaney/James Burbage: “Who are you?”

William Shakespeare Will: “William Shakespeare”

Colm Meaney/James Burbage: “Never heard of ‘im!”

courtesy laugh

Someone please tell me there’s also something along the lines of “Get with the times! It’s 1582 for god’s sake!”

Second, I’m thrilled that they’ve cast Jamie Campbell Bower as Christopher Marlowe, as Bower annoyed me with his namby-pamby, blond, sticky-outtie-ears as Arthur in Camelot (2011) and the young earl of Oxford in Anonymous (2011).

Will (2017- ) TNT

Jamie Campbell Bower. Not my cup of tea. Also, the Velvet Goldmine set is that way.

Third, I’m excited that Shekar Kapur (ElizabethElizabeth: The Golden Age) directed some of the episodes, since we know he is SO knowledgeable about 16th century England.

Fourth, what the frock*:

*Costumes were designed by Kym Barrett — one episode, I presume the pilot; she also designed Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Matrix (1999), From Hell (2001), and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), so we can see where this is going. Caroline McCall is credited with the rest of season 1; her previous work includes Downton Abbey (2012-13) and Dark Angel (2016) — huh?

Will (2017- ) TNT

Will Shakespeare, aka Adam Ant.

Will (2017- ) TNT

Anne Shakespeare, I presume, who is clearly going to be no contest next to…

Will (2017- ) TNT

Hot Mad Max wives making out…

Will (2017- ) TNT

Eyes Wide Shut parties…

Will (2017- ) TNT

And corset-chafed ingenues…

Will (2017- ) TNT

With really bad hair!

Will (2017- ) TNT

Punk colors, more chafing.

Will (2017- ) TNT

Inspired by Madame Le Notre’s Sparkle Motion dress from A Little Chaos?

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Oh hey, we managed to rent one decent costume for the lady-in-waiting!

Will (2017- ) TNT

So many codflaps, so little time. (Also, hipster floral print shirts on the left).

Will (2017- ) TNT

Oh look! The noble extras also get semi-decent costumes!

Will (2017- ) TNT

Too bad we ran out of semi-decent costumes and had to go for LEOPARD PRINT LAPELS on the principals.

Will (2017- ) TNT

Mad Men did bouffants SO much better.

Will (2017- ) TNT

Ah yes, the famed codflap/belt buckle trend of the 1580s.

Will (2017- ) TNT

Who’s a pretty pretty princess? I’ll give you a hint!

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Casual Friday. I won’t mock the Burger King crown in the back since it’s a theater costume.

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You’ve got your fetish 18th century lady, plus your cranky guy in his Coat of Many Lamés, plus your Star Trek extra in his 1970s crushed velvet.

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And we’re back to Mad Max/Adam Ant/Burning Man!

Will (2017- ) TNT

I can give you about 50 reasons why I don’t want to hang out with this crowd. Mostly it involves not wanting to see their piercings.

Will (2017- ) TNT


Will you watch Will when it premieres July 10 on TNT? And if so, will you be hate-watching it?


About the author



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.

47 Responses

  1. heatherparish

    I will hate-watch for as long as I possibly can. I will get sent a link to it at least 2 dozen times by well-meaning acquaintances, so I’ll be forced to address it at some point.

  2. susan l eiffert

    oh dear god. go ahead and make this mess of a fantasy but have the decency to leave shakespeare the hell out of it!

  3. Shawna Spiteri

    No amount of sexy sexy guy-liner came make this crap watchable.

  4. Katy Werlin

    My boobs are sore just looking at these photos.

    I just… don’t quite get what they’re going for? Is this another “I know playwrights are total squares now and Shakespeare is obviously super boring but DID YOU KNOW in ye olde days playwrights were like ye olde rockstars and going to a play was like going to a punk rock concert we are so creative in how we talk about history this isn’t your grandpa’s Shakespeare lol!!” series? Like, what is the metaphor here exactly? I’m so perplexed!

  5. picasso Manu

    If I ever come across it, I’ll be watching the extras… Ever wondered if the hire History reenactors who come with their own stuff?

    “I can give you about 50 reasons why I don’t want to hang out with this crowd. Mostly it involves not wanting to see their piercings.”

    Would have gone with not wanting to mix with soo many semi naked unwashed bodies myself, but to each her own lol! (‘sides WTH have they been smokin’? looks like the good stuff!)

  6. Sarah Lorraine

    That is the most literal codflap I’ve ever seen. IT IS LITERALLY A FLAP SEWN OVER THE CROTCH OF JEANS.


  7. mmcquown

    I’m fighting through “Still Star-Crossed,” and I’m losing — interest. Haven’t got the stomach for “Will.”

  8. Susan Pola Staples

    I ‘will’ probably watch as it will feed my need to throw things at my TV and drink when I see bad, no, hideous inaccuracies in costume and hair.
    Makes me wonder what the production team was drinking/sniffing/shooting. Can’t have been legal.

  9. athene

    Who knew there were so many ball-gags in the late 16th century? Perhaps to accessorize the cod flaps? *Nota bene: “Cod Flaps” sounds so much more authentic than any of the dialog in the trailer: “Aroint thee, odiferous Cod Flap!” Will be my new epithet of choice.

  10. Kathleen Norvell

    I will probably hate-watch at least the first episode. What is it with fake historical series that they can’t afford/never heard of WHITE shirts? I am SO TIRED of supposedly historical people wearing black shirts. Do the costumers even realize HOW MUCH a black shirt would have cost back then?

  11. Broughps

    I’ll give it a try if for no other reason than to snark about it.

  12. Lady Hermina De pagan

    Holy Cats!!!!! I need to go bathe the patchulli and THC residue off from the pictures alone. There is a difference between a creative angle and a turning William Shakespeare’s life into a version of the Mara Luna festival and Wicked Faire. Sheesh, even the Lost Boys camp in the Bog does a better H/A job than this.

  13. Saraquill

    Are they even pretending to be historically accurate, or is the production playing “pull random aesthetics out of our ears.”

  14. Peacoclaur

    Good Lord, I’m all for interesting stylization of visual representions of history but what the…..? I know its meant to be about making Shakespeare accessible to the youngins’ but this approach is demeaning to both the audience and its subject matter. This particular aesthetic worked for the Sofia Coppola version of Marie Antoinette as it was subtle and had a fundamental seriousness underlying it. Ditto for the tv show Harlots from what I’ve read and seen on Frockflicks (I haven’t seen it yet as not on DVD yet in New Zealand and I can’t stream it). It’s Shakespeare in Love crossed with The Tudors. For shame. 😒

    • MoHub

      The best way to make classics “accessible” to the young is to let them have them straight and allow them to see the quality of the product for what it is. Give the kids credit for some intelligence and stop thinking things need to be dumbed down for them to understand and appreciate them.

      • Kathleen Norvell

        I so agree with you. I was exposed to classical music, ballet, and theater at a young age — no BS, just straight-up classics. I was hooked. I still am. I may even be a purist since I hate to see “modern” interpretations of Shakespeare (and I have seen many). Don’t insult the audience.

  15. Maria D.

    I might give it a try but then I’ll poke fun of it on social media – WTH were they thinking with this show – gah

  16. Elska Jenness

    I saw an ad for this on twitter and I thought: “Oh Frock Flicks is going to have a field day with this!”

  17. Janette

    Urgh no no and more no. It is surely a crime against history, literature, common sense and taste.

  18. Erica

    sigh I like that there are Black characters because there were black English people at this time. However, I feel like this show just included these characters because they weren’t planning on being historically accurate. They aren’t including them because they know it’s historically accurate. They are including these characters because they think it isn’t … Maybe I’m nitpicking.

  19. mmcquown

    To answer a question, yes,film companies hire reenactors and actors who have their own gear. In the case of the latter, it’s usually tails for the men and gowns for the women. There were quite a few in “Age of Innocence.” PS, sometimes, but not always, they’ll kick in a bonus for the self-provided.

    • Kathleen Norvell

      As for that, the 18th century Jacobite unit I belonged to was asked to be extras in a Culloden-based episode of “Highlander,” We really wanted to do it, but a short-notice flight to Vancouver, where they filmed half the year, would have cost each of us about $1500. If they had filmed it in France, where the crew was the other half of the year, it would have cost us less than half the price of a Vancouver ticket and some of us would have done it.

  20. mmcquown

    Addendum: in Great Elizabeth’s time, there was an outcry to deport the 3000-odd “blackamoors” living in England. She didn’t.

  21. Pixel Pixie

    All I could think of during the crowd scenes in the theater was “Looks like the Lost Boys from Hook found a new place to hang out! Rufio! Rufio! Rufio!”

  22. Jeri

    This looks like a good drunk watching show. Unfortunately, it’s frowned upon for me to show up at work hammered.

    • ZelM

      I feel that – my God – the first episode looks like it’s a drinking game that ends with alcohol poisoning 15 mins in!

  23. robintmp

    Not only does much of the cast look as if they dropped in from an Adam Ant video from 1982 (I remember those; I was around for that era), but, based on the photos thus far, the whole thing looks as if it could have been made back then–the 80’s style and atmosphere practically reeks from the images. Look, I have no problem with modernized versions of Shakespeare’s plays; some of them have been done very well. If you’re going to go that route, though, GO FOR IT–none of this half-assed, kinda-sorta messed-up mashup. Either be modern or go home, got it? The historical/modern combination (usually 18th century in his case) was clever, amusing, and original when Adam Ant was doing it, but that was 35 years ago, OK? Time for a different approach!

    (Damn, has it really been that long, and am I really that old?…)

  24. Sonya Heaney

    I’m sorry, but I knew who wrote this post before I saw the picture at the end, because there was ANOTHER insult about blonds! This site likes to think it’s progressive, but you mock blonds all the time. I’m so sorry we’re not all redheads. :( :(

  25. Sofairy

    My friend actually worked on the set of this and we’ve got some of the doublets at work (they’re very lovely to look at in real life), so I feel it’s my duty to say that it is deliberately a mash up of costume eras, particularly the alt-music scene, hence the Adam Ant-ness of it all. It’s a deliberate choice, so although I can’t attest to the quality of the acting, writing or editing etc., I think the knee-jerk “omg why are they doing a mashup????” reaction should be curbed until we’ve seen it proper. Cynical is boring, people, give it a chance!

    • Kathleen Norvell

      Sorry, but if it’s about Shakespeare, it should at least try to be reasonably authentic. Otherwise, do a show about some anonymous young playwright.

  26. Merujo

    The first episode is available on demand (at least with FiOS) and, dear god, I tried to watch it today. I really did try. I lasted 10, 12 minutes, said loudly to myself “Oh, this is really bad,” and bathed my brain in Purell.

  27. Heather

    I watched the first 10 minutes, muted it during the public disemboweling, and turned it off during the waterboarding. I’m out!

  28. QNPoohBear

    Even my parents know enough to know the costumes are not remotely accurate and the punk rock aesthetic is confusing to anyone. Teens get Shakespeare in school. Once you teach them about double entendres, then Shakespeare is fun. I agree that it doesn’t need to be loud, in your face to be relatable.

    • Susan Pola Staples

      I know. I finally broke down and watched it, bc I was bored.
      The costumes are worse than Reign. The anti-Catholic or Catholics as evil subplot needs serious ditching.
      And Burbages daughter should convert, travel to Italy and create comedia del’are. Harlequin, etc.