Trying to Muster Enthusiasm for Victoria


Guys! Usually we here at Frock Flicks review whatever it is we have been watching, which may mean that all three of us are writing content about the same film/show. But with Snark Week madness, we decided to split up some of the major shows on, and I volunteered to tackle Victoria (2017), the ITV-produced TV series starring Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria (which is also airing in the US on PBS). This may have been a mistake, because aside from some tingly feelings about Rufus Sewell and the rest of the man candy, and liking the fact that they reproduced some real surviving clothing worn by Queen Victoria, I’m full of meh!

Now granted, this was probably poor decision-making on my part, because I’ve always been less than excited about Queen Victoria. As I discussed on our latest Patreon podcast (only available to those who regularly support Frock Flicks through Patreon!), she didn’t actually have too much of a political role. Plus, she was so domestic and family-focused. No flirtations or scandals or wielding of power like other fabulous British female monarchs like Queen Elizabeth I. I remember reading one of those Jean Plaidy historical novels about her back in my pre-teen days and just thinking “zzzzzzz.”

Jean Plaidy The Queen and Lord M

Raise your hand if you checked this sucker out from your public library!

But hey, it looked like a lot of money was thrown at this production, and Jenna Coleman was good on Dr. Who, and Rufus Sewell! Right?

Tired bunny

Me watching Victoria.

I’ve only managed to get through three episodes (i.e., right up to when Melbourne turns down her proposal) before getting distracted by Westworld (post coming soon!) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Here’s what I got:


I felt like they could have done a much better job establishing Victoria’s childhood. Instead of doing ANY showing of the abuse she suffered by her controlling mother and mom’s beau, we just hear Vickie complaining about them post-out-from-under-their-thumbs.


Can someone who cares more about Queen Victoria tell me if there is ANY documentation that she basically proposed to Lord Melbourne? I mean, I know she had to do the proposing to Albert due to her higher rank, but my understanding is that it was pretty well known that he was going to say yes. I just don’t see Vickie going out on a limb like this.


I liked that there’s a pup (DASH!)…


…and that it’s the same pup who played Dash in The Young Victoria (2009)!


I believe I audibly scoffed when Victoria gets excited about new lady’s maid Miss Skerrett and her ability to change her boring, butter-churny hairstyle into a supposedly new and fashionable, but equally boring and butter-churny, hairstyle. This is somewhat less of a snark of the show and more of 1840s hairstyles.

Scully eye roll



Apparently at some point in the future, she adds some ringlets, which, THANK GOD.


I was entertained by the whole Lady Flora thing. “You think I’m pregnant and a hoooor? I HAVE CANCER!” Ultimate revenge.

Littlefinger cheers

Lady Flora.


As I do with all mid-Victorian fashion, the only outfit I’ve gotten excited about is her green riding habit.


I was underwhelmed by the coronation, but that could just be my bad memory. Except, if I don’t really remember it, that says something.

Britney Spears confused



Question for Sir John: did they really have that much botox in the 1830s?


I like the Duchess of Kent’s dress, but I feel like her gloves came from Frederick’s of Hollywood.


WHAT IS GOING ON WITH MOM’S HAIR OMG NO BUMP-ITS DID NOT EXIST IN THE 1830S-40S. Also, that “tiara” is totally from Claire’s (cheap American mall jewelry shop).

Merida Brave head desk



I know I’m not the only one freaked out by Coleman’s space alien contacts. Okay, so apparently it’s important to someone that her eye color match, but Coleman’s pupils never dilate!

They Live (1988)

It’s like something out of They Live (1988 sci-fi movie)!


Some of the costumes are great repros


…others are fine…


…and some are pretty.


I am looking forward to seeing the wedding dress, which looks gorgeous!


But apparently I get to look forward to dupioni…


Dupioni and head necklaces


And is that head…couch trim?


Their attempt at Renaissance fancy dress gave both me and Sarah ALL the feels. One of us will write a ranty post about it very soon.

Little girl angry shaking


I don’t know, people. How are YOU feeling about Victoria?


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.

79 Responses

  1. Alba

    I was watching Victoria’s episode 3 RIGHT NOW and I’ve never been more underwhelmed. In my humble opinion, this show manages to move too quickly and explain too little in ceirtain areas whilst also dragging out and over explaining other topics.

    I quite love Queen Victoria, and have read a lot about her, and I found myself repeatedly thinking that they did quite the mess explaining her complicated relationship with her mother and Conroy. The fact that we never see (or explicitly told) the abuse she suffers makes her come off as whiny and spoiled.

    I’m not sure If I’ll continue watching… but up to this moment, I really don’t like the show.

    Oh, and, to my knowledge, they completely invented the whole proposal thing with Melbourne. If anyone has evidence of the contrary, please do tell.

    And great article, by the way!

  2. Broughps

    I’ve seen the whole first season and liked it. It did get more interesting to me when Albert showed up.

    But yes Victoria did come off as whiny about her mother and Sir John.

  3. Sarah Lorraine

    Y’know, I liked Young Victoria way more than I expected to, so I was kind of looking forward to “Victoria” but everything I’m seeing so far is leading me in the “meh” direction. I think a lot of Victoria’s early years as far as her statesmanship is concerned is up for debate, but PROPOSING TO LORD MELBOURNE???

    Let us examine the improbability of such an action considering the following points.

    A) Commoner.

    B) Politician.

    C) Basically Victoria’s dad.

    The first two points are way more of a deterrent to any young queen looking to solidify her lineage, particularly if she’s from a cadet branch of the Royal Family. There’s no evidence that I know of that suggests Victoria ever considered anyone seriously other than Albert, and even then, he was a controversial choice because he was from a seriously backwater minor royal house from BFE Germany. The fact that Victoria went to the bat to justify marrying him speaks volumes… This was a woman who was determined to have one particular man, damn the dissenters.

    The third point… Yeah, we all get the daddy complex thing and all, but I think there’s absolutely zero evidence that she ever saw Melbourne as anything other than a fatherly figure, and he never saw her as anything other than a daughterly figure… Well, and Queen of England.

    That said, if Melbourne was actually Rufus Sewell, I could understand the crush. But he wasn’t, so it’s a major stretch of credibility on the part of the show writers to put him up as an inexperienced Victoria’s love interest.


    I need to stop bitching and get on to watching the 3rd episode with the fancy dress ball so I can bitch about that instead.

    • Alba

      I completely agree with you! And yes, “Young Victoria” was far better and more enjoyable in my opinion.

      • mmcquown

        There was more sympathy for the subject in “Young Victoria.” According to her diaries, Vicky never regarded Melbourne as other than a father figure, which, considering that he was far older and Sewell and often fell asleep at odd moments, makes much more sense. I would have enjoyed the series more without the manufactured love interest. An annoying trait in a lot of hysterical drammas.

    • Susan Pola

      I love the series for various reasons which since I’m only break at work, I will wait until later.
      But there is no historical basis for the proposal to Lord M, but I do believe that she he might have been a first love – they say we fall for our dads or the complete opposite.
      But I will say, I liked the corset lacing/dressing scene as it showed she was wearing something lacy under it.

      Remember Young Vic & Vic & Albert dis have Conroy’s abuse of her physically.p

  4. Martha

    The jewelry killed me. I felt like they received a bulk deal from Claire’s prom line.

  5. Val

    I am enjoying the show. However, and I may be mistaken, at one point it appeared that Victoria mucked around all day in a specific dress- and then wore the same gown to dinner. Nope. Wouldn’t have happened. Annoyed me

  6. Edward Murphy

    Honestly, after The Young Victoria and with The Crown turning up very shortly after my review of Victoria is very simple. Bad fanfic. From the radically inconsistent costuming which bounces around 1835-1840 like a cartoon rubber ball, to the amazingly cheap-looking jewelry, to the utter lack of remotely known actors beyond Jenna Coleman, to the bad fanfic script, which really fails to deliver on pretty much anything (Conroy irritated me the most, because in REAL LIFE Victoria banishes him from her presence the minute she becomes Queen, which is a cool moment of agency they not only don’t show, but write out completely in favour of a tedious secondary plot for the Drama), Victoria is a washout.

  7. Christy

    Yes yes yes! I managed to get through 4 episodes, because I wanted to see the wedding dress (the wedding left me completely underwhelmed), but I think you can stick a fork in me. I’m done. (I was screaming “HEAD NECKLACES!!!” at the screen. Then I fell asleep.)
    That bored little bunny is definitely me.

  8. Author Jennifer Quail

    Meh. Pretty but meh. Especially the I-assume-fictional “The maid used to work in a whorehouse!” drama. What? I do not need Downton/Upstairs Downstairs drama in my Victoriana.

    • Bronwyn Benson

      Oh, is that what’s happening? I honestly couldn’t figure out what Skerrit’s back story was supposed to be other than the friend with a baby having come from a previous job. I totally missed that they worked at a whorehouse.

      • Author Jennifer Quail

        I *think* that’s what that conversation in the alley was about? She’s very insistent she was not a “working girl” but still. In any case, eh. More Victoria, less Downstairs manufactured drama!

  9. Gail

    Masterpiece theater for teenage girls.

    The inaccuracies make me crazy.

  10. Anonymous

    Lord Melbourne is way too young (and too pretty) :/
    Especially since Jenna Coleman is so much older than Victoria was at the time it makes their relationship seem “romantic” and not creepy.
    Seriously, if a Victoria series has more Victoria/Melbourne shippers than Victoria/Albert ones, well, they’re doing something wrong.

  11. Michelle

    I am here for Rufus Sewell.

    Also YES about her contacts – I don’t think I’ve ever been more distracted by contacts.

    The downstairs scheming/drama does nothing.

    Thanks for the great review.

  12. Gertie

    This site always criticizes head necklaces, but I’ve yet to read why, exactly, they’re terrible. (Do they not belong ever, or are they just always done wrong?) Forgive me for being late to the party and please take pity and explain. Thanks!

    • Sarah Lorraine

      It’s a costuming trope that’s WAY overdone and misused. Diadems/forehead jewelry were something that came into fashion in very particular instances in very particular eras, like a brief moment in late-15th-century Italy, or a brief moment in the early-1830s, or a brief moment in the 1920s. Outside of those instances, they’re inappropriate. And even when they are used in the appropriate historical period on film, they’re applied in inappropriate ways, like the archery scene depicted above. The “head necklace” of the 1830s was evening wear, not something you’d just plop on your head if you were doing sports or hanging out.

      It’s just something that keeps cropping up over and over to the point that it just grates on our nerves.

  13. Lynne Connolly

    When Victoria came to the throne, she was 18 and Lord Melbourne was 58. Ick. He was also obese and in poor health.
    Her diaries from this period survive, and there is no discussion of Melbourne as anything but a father figure. He guided her from girl to queen, helped her break away from her mother and Conroy, and set her on the right path. But he was no Rufus Sewell.
    I was done when Albert appeared. There is absolutely no chemistry between him and Victoria. Albert was described by her and most people who met him as a handsome, confident man. Nope.
    And the downstairs stuff, obviously meant to ape Downton, was just meh. I couldn’t get any enthusiasm going for those stories. I gave up, and I have no intention of watching the next series.
    And yes, those contacts!

  14. athene

    19th c. women’s Romantic fashion gives me the hives, so, in order to avoid the icky necklines and goiter sleeves, I’ve become obsessed by Victoria’s white cotton Minnie Mouse gloves *that are too big for her tiny hands*. I CANNOT LOOK AWAY – except when Rufus Sewell is on screen – because he is the real reason I am watching this. I also think that Tom Hughes is way too smoldery and hot for pudding-faced Albert. I want Tom Hughes to mumble in my ear forever; usually, whenever I see images of Albert I want to punch him/them in the face.

    Let’s not even talk about actual history. Because, why?

  15. ADoyle

    I also think Young Victoria was better in many ways, as you really saw the chemistry between her and Albert. Another issue is that Lord Melbourne was much older than Victoria, so if anything, she saw him as a father figure, not a potential husband. The downstairs drama does nothing for me, and I think was put there because of the popularity of Downton Abbey.

  16. Susan Pola

    Re head jewellery. My mind may be playing with me, but I seem to remember seeing some portraits with them and printed pictures in magazines of the type ‘La Belle Assemblee’ with women of the aristocracy pictured wearing them.

    Re attraction between Victoria & Albert – Tom & Jenna – I feel that it’s there but they’re downplaying it – except when she first saw him. Wow. She nailed it. Victoria last saw Albert in 1835 or 1836 before she became Queen. He was unappealing then, and the transformation in 1839 was thunderous. Ergo she fell and fell hard.

      • Sarah Lorraine

        I love how the first seven images on your pinterest board are from “The Never Ending Story.” Very historically accurate.

        Yes, ferroniéres existed. But, like I said in my other reply to Gertie, “it’s a costuming trope that’s WAY overdone and misused.”

        Also, “even when they are used in the appropriate historical period on film, they’re applied in inappropriate ways, like the archery scene depicted above.”

        I mean, is it so hard to grasp that this is a trope in costume flicks that is misused frequently enough for us to develop a special irritation for it?

  17. Charity

    I love it. I’ve watched the entire thing four times, my mother’s watched it with me twice, my dad just finished his first go-though, now he’s curious about all the history of the period.

  18. Susan Pola

    I’m with Charity. I’m picking up my Blu-ray of season 1 tomorrow.

  19. Heidi

    The contacts are driving me crazy. They should have left it alone. Eye color is not a deal breaker when casting someone.

  20. indiaedghillI

    Bored, alas, which is too bad. I mean, I love that they’ve got Dash in — and yes, she did give Dash his bath after the coronation — but honestly, couldn’t they have shown what a hideous upbringing she had? Her mother and Sir John could have had everything they wanted once Victoria became Queen — IF they hadn’t felt they had to use force to get it. (In at least one case, physical force.) If we don’t see that Victoria wasn’t even allowed to walk down a staircase without holding someone’s hand until the day she became Queen, it’s hard to sympathize with the bit about it we’re grudgingly shown in episode one.

    I’m also peeved by the short puff sleeves worn outdoors. During the day.

    I did adore the Grand Duke, though!

  21. Susan Pola

    Grand Duke or as his title Tsarevitch suggest was the heir of Tsar Nicholas I and Alexander Nicholaevitch became the Tsar who freed the serfs. He is know in history as the Tsar Liberator. Also his second marriage was to a titled nonroyal, Catherine Dolgarukaya, whom he was having an affair with when his first wife Marie of Hesse-Darmstadt.

  22. Frannie Germeshausen

    The downstairs “plot” is too, too tedious. I have problems with Prince Albert in general. He was a drip. But she loved him.

    • Roxana

      Oh dear God yes! The only thing worse than a minor German Royal is a minor German intellectual and, God help us, Albert was both. One doesn’t know whether to feel sorrier for Albert having to live at a foreign court most of whose members despised him, or for Victoria having to live with the absolute definition of the word ‘prig’.

  23. amy towle

    Love this review 💕 sums it up very well in an amusing way. I’m wondering has anyone reviewed The Crown?

  24. ladylavinia1932

    I thought this would be an improvement after the disappointing and turgid 2009 movie, “The Young Victoria”, but I guess I was wrong. Well, I’ll see. I had placed it on my Netflix list. I see that once again, the actor cast to portray Lord Melbourne is too young.

  25. Alisa

    I love it. I’m going to buy the DVD, because it’s one of the best series I’ve ever seen….and I’m devastated that apparently your posts about it are going to be all snarky and nitpicky about your pet peeves, rather than celebrating the AMAZING reproduction costumes on it.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      and I’m devastated that apparently your posts about it are going to be all snarky and nitpicky about your pet peeves, rather than celebrating the AMAZING reproduction costumes on it.

      Hi. You must be new here. Please take a moment to review the purpose of this website and familiarize yourself with what Frock Flicks is all about.

      Particularly relevant is this bit:

      Q: Are you big meanies?

      A: Trystan would say yes, but really, we’re critics. What critics do is critique. That means pointing out what, in our opinion, works and does not work, what is and is not accurate, what is and is not entertaining. We’re here to promote the films and TV shows we think are great, and warn viewers away from those that are horrible, and talk about history and historical fashion for those who are interested.

      “That said, criticism is part of show biz… We should still be allowed to talk about the dumbing down of history as entertainment, and I argue that we should also be ok with the fact that as a predominately female demographic, discussion is going to be at times sardonically witty, scathing, and even outright bitchy. And I’m not so sure that that’s a bad thing.”

      Read more: A Defense of Snark

    • Andrew Schroeder

      Not to be rude, but the costumes that are reproductions are not amazing. The wedding dress was nice, as was the accession dress although I didn’t care for the fabric. The coronation robes were laughably terrible, save the supertunica which I suspect was re-used from The Young Victoria.

      The rest of the costumes are middling IMHO. Reasonably accurate but rather basic in design, and many re-used from other productions.

    • Kendra

      Detailed research post forthcoming! Yes they existed for very short periods of time, worn for specific occasions, and were not chintzy rhinestone necklaces.

    • Kendra

      And, the term “head necklace” is a joke to point out that a diadem/ferroniere does not equal a necklace plopped on the head! :)

    • Pyrite

      First off, I’m not a member of Frock Flicks. Just a fan of their blog.

      Second, I looked over your Pinterest page and I would be very careful with including fictional movie pieces like Never Ending Story and Star Wars when you are looking at historical documentation. Also, you have a number of allegorical pieces showing up that should be taken with a grain to a pound of salt depending on the subject/painter.

      Whereas you have some excellent images in there, you also have multiple duplicates, which is extremely distracting and makes me want to skim over images rather than stop an focus. Pinterest is an excellent storehouse but is made even better with conscientious vetting of images.

    • RPM

      I sometimes feel that people stumble into this angry at snark (only when they disagree with it)…WHEN ONE OF THE BIGGEST POINTS OF THE SITE IS BEING SNARKY ABOUT POORLY EXECUTED HISTORICAL COSTUMING, OF WHICH HEAD NECKLACES THAT YOU BUY ON EBAY IS A PART. If you don’t like what is said here, go write your own blog. is probably available.

        • Susan Pola

          I am watching my Blu-ray version and when the Archbishop was marrying them I thought ‘Mawwwidge …’ bc the actor didn’t have an upper class accent and only gentleman (landed gentry, perhaps lawyers would have entered the English Clergy and risen to Archbishop of Canterbury, York, London, Salisbury….)

      • MoHub

        Agreed. Snark is what makes this site so fabulous and fun. Perhaps it’s not a place for those lacking a sense of humor.

  26. CatnipTARDIS

    We got over Harry Potter not having green eyes, so why must we endure the crazy eyes?

    I cannot blame the actors’ ages for the whole Vic/Mel thing. Emily Blunt and Paul Bettany are only twelve years apart (vs Sewell’s and Coleman’s nineteen years), but there was nothing remotely romantic in The Young Victoria. The one thing I’ll give them is the proposal scene did make Jenna Coleman seem as young and naïve as Victoria would have been.

    The Vic/Albert chemistry bores me to tears. Episode four was such a snoozefest. The I-HATE-him-no-I-LOVE-him thing was like an overly forced rom-com. And the shirt-cutting thing? CREEPY! This guy is carefully earning Victoria’s trust and that was way too strong a come-on. Victoria’s sudden change of feelings was too quick and just plain unbelievable. Even the impulsive and flippant Emma Woodhouse took an entire novel to figure out her feelings toward Knightley! At least once we get to episode four the pairing is a little more believable in their inability to keep one’s hands off the other while staying chaste. It’s certainly a little randier than the blatant chemistry in The Young Victoria, but now it just looks like rampant lust and not the deep love we all knew they had for each other.

    I feel like for Victoria’s childhood, the writers went on the assumption their audience already knows what’s what. Isn’t that the first rule of writing? Or anything? Never assume! Ignoring my foreknowledge, all I got was Victoria and Conroy don’t get along and Victoria resents him because he manages her mother’s finances for her. The lack of lain out background makes Victoria seem petulant and rebellious instead of eager to escape an emotionally unhealthy situation.

  27. totchipanda

    I bloody HATE the blue contacts. Not a fan of Jenna Coleman in general.

    Things I do like: the dresses, PUPPY.

    Alberta is pretty enough when he’s not ripping holes in his shirt like a creepy creepster. (My friend swooned. I said Nope we’re done here. “Forgot” to watch it last week.)

  28. Karen K.

    I was kind of looking forward to it but I know all the historical inaccuracies will drive me insane, especially the fake romance between Melbourne and Victoria. DID NOT EVEN REMOTELY HAPPEN.

  29. M.E. Lawrence

    Nice production values, but it all seems so underpopulated, even during ballroom scenes and the coronation. And I’m really going to miss Rufus S.

    My favorite version of Victoria is a strange docu-drama presented by the ineffable Kate Williams. She trots around attractive historical settings wearing little corselets and tartans and too much make-up, expounding intensely about young V. and reading excerpts from her diaries as if they were holy writ. (I kept waiting for her to pop up between Victoria and Albert in the four poster on their wedding night.) Good fun!

  30. Kathryn MacLennan

    It definitely has its problems, but I have been enjoying Albert being the original emo. So much angst!

  31. SarahV

    I’m trying to decide whether the Duchess of Kent (Victoria’s mom) is supposed to be portrayed as sympathetic or not in this piece. I know that she, IRL, invented the mean, cruel Kensington system along with her comptroller/lover(?) to keep the daughter dependent on her, but that was really glossed over. Instead we see Victoria and her mother just being chilly towards one another, although that could just be chalked up to the Duchess Victoria become very, well, very German. She did seem pretty bereft when Sir John took Victoria’s bribe/pension, and she seemed relatively warm and cordial when entertaining the Coburg boys.

    It does say something that the historical Duchess of Kent was set-up by Parliament to act as Regent if Victoria ascemded before achieving her majority. That had to have been unusual in that she was a) not an actual member of the British royal family, b) German and c) female.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      The biggest issue I have with the show so far (putting aside the whole Lord M romance thing) is that the audience is never told WHY Victoria hates Sir John so much and why she’s such a bitch to her mother when she becomes queen. At least Young Victoria made something of an effort to shed some light on that backstory, because without it, you just have an 18-year-old girl throwing a tantrum because her mother’s boyfriend laughed at her because she was short when she was a child.

      And then there’s whole thing that Victoria was maybe slightly shorter than average, but she wasn’t so short that people would have called her a “midget” behind her back or teased her about it in such a way that it gave her a complex about it. Hell, they make it seem as if Victoria just gets heaps of shit from everyone because she’s freakishly short and it just doesn’t seem in any way believable (though, as a fellow under-five-footer, the whole sitting in the former king’s throne and her feet not touching the ground was handled believably. “Ha, my feet don’t touch the ground!” “Ok, we will have to make you a new throne!” The end).

  32. Susan Pola

    Lucy Worsley’s special on royal attire has a costume conservator state 5’1″but I’ve read she was anywhere between 4’11” and 5’1″.

  33. Maddie S.

    “She was so domestic and family-focused. No flirtations or scandals or wielding of power like other fabulous British female monarchs.” She was faithful to her husband, being a mother was important to her, and she didn’t cause massive trouble? Horror of horrors! ;)

  34. Gina

    I like the series and I’m satisfied with the costumes although I agree with the casual use of head jewelry. I just get stuck on Victoria’s eyes being lopsided.

  35. Ester

    Finally Victoria came to Finland as well. Strangely, after seeing the first two episodes, the thing that annoyed me most was the fact that Victoria wore the star of the Order of the Garter attached to the riband or sash, which in my understanding wouldn’t be done. I don’t claim to be an expert in the rules of British honours, but in very portrait I can find of her (or anyone else) wearing the riband, the star is always pinned under the riband on the dress. Small thing, but made me feel the costume department (or historical advisors) hadn’t quite done their homework.

  36. Dom

    I just wanted to say that I LOVED Victoria!! I watched it in the fall, and it overlapped a bit with the release of the Crown. Everything about Victoria was more riveting than the Crown. I know they can’t make up too much drama about living royalty, and costumes in the 1950s, at least what the queen wears, is a bit boring, so Victoria packs a punch both in the costume department, and in the drama department.

  37. Roxana

    Jenna Coleman is extremely lovely and the script is within shouting distance of history but I did spend a lot of time explaining to my mother what they got wrong.
    Victoria certainly had a bad crush on Lord Melbourne but she was nowhere near self aware enough to realize the true nature of her feelings and even if she had she would never have dreamed of marrying him.