Have you ever been reading Shakespeare’s histories or an English history book about the War of the Roses and think “wow, this is great, but I wish there was more nudity and some strange Druidic magic.” Well have I got the miniseries for you.
The White Queen, which was nominated for a bunch of awards last season and so I added to my Netflix Queue, but it didn’t come until a few weeks ago, is based on a trilogy of novels by Philipa Gregory and follows the trials and tribulation of three women (Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville) who are entwined in the constant changing of the crown that was the 15th century in England.
Although the main actress nominations all went to Rebecca Ferguson as Edward’s Queen Elizabeth, I didn’t find the first part of the series, which follows her rise and fall, nearly as compelling as the latter half, which delves more deeply into the sad story of Richard’s Queen Anne (Faye Marsay).
Overall the amount that I was invested in the story by the last installment really snuck up on me. Although Max Irons (yes he’s Jeremy’s son) was charming and had great chemistry with Ferguson, he played Edward as such an overgrown child that it was really easy to see why people distrusted him as King, and so it was hard to get too emotional about the struggles he faced. But Aneurin Barnard as Richard, with intense glare and genuinely emotionally complex connection with his wife, totally drew me in. I both wanted to watch every second he was onscreen and cringed with each step we got closer to his inevitable end.
I started watching this expecting it to be a bit of a joke, and historically I’m sure it is, but in the grand British tradition, it is filled with actually wonderful actors elevating their material. It’s pulpy sure, but it’s well styled and a bit addictive.