Reign follows the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. The drama is set in the 15th century French court and traces France’s relationships, political and otherwise, with its allies and enemies. While the writers were known to take liberties with the plotline, they loosely conformed to history books. The series ran for 4 seasons, bagging two awards in its first and receiving major nominations in the rest. I am not a big fan of politics, but I happened to catch a random episode and I was hooked.
It may not have been renewed for a fifth season (leading to an almost abrupt finale), but it was good while it lasted. The completely unpredictable plotline (unless you read up on your history for the outcome) made the series refreshing yet entertaining. If you don’t watch it for the good-looking men (wink, wink), the majestic wardrobes or the beautiful jewelry, you have to watch it for its women. Despite the prevailing patriarchy of the times, the women found a way out of every situation they were thrown into, with grace and aplomb. As the tagline said: “Long may she reign”.
If you choose to binge watch Reign, here are the kickass Queens and mistresses to keep an eye out for.
1. Catherine de Medici, the Queen of France
Played by the incredibly gifted Megan Follows, she is the quintessential power-hungry ruler who could do just about anything for her children. Such was her brilliant portrayal, that you want to kill her when she is evil and yet love her when she is kind. Based on her motives, she flips between the good and the bad side so effortlessly, she makes it hard to believe she is the same person. If you need lessons on how to be evil, Queen Catherine should be your role model.
2. Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scotland (& to-be Queen of France)
The protagonist of the story, the series is a Bildungsroman (coming of age story) for not just her, but her country as well. It follows Mary’s tenacious journey from teenage to adulthood, with her constantly having to make tough decisions. Played by the spunky Adelaide Kane, Mary is not your typical ruler, and follows her heart and her conscience, more than conforming to political expectations. Now this is the kind of ruler we need, who goes out of her way to protect her people and does what is right by them, at great personal cost.
3. Elizabeth Tudor, the Queen of England
The foil to our protagonist, she is her cousin by blood, but is different from her in almost every other way. Played by the formidable Rachel Skarsten, Elizabeth will make you detest her decisions and choices. However, you cannot deny that she single-handedly rules England with an iron fist in a male-dominated court. Although society dictates that every female ruler should have a husband by her side, she shows them exactly who’s boss.
4. Diane de Poitiers, King Henry’s mistress
Despite being almost 3 decades older than the King of France, the reticent yet assertive Diane wields enormous power as the King’s most trusted advisory. France was then a largely Catholic nation and considering she was not his lawful wife; she should have been banished or kept secret. Contrarily, she is given more importance in state functions than the Queen herself. Diane is portrayed by the lovely Anna Walton.
5. Lola Fleming, one of Mary’s ladies-in-waiting (and I won’t tell you whose mistress)
A relatively silent but strong character, Lola is a pillar of strength for Mary throughout the series. Portrayed by the intense Anna Popplewell, she believes in simple things like friendship and family and love. Like Mary, she upholds certain values and refuses to deviate from them, despite the costs.
6. Claude de Valois, Princess of France
Although not a queen or mistress, this eternal rule-breaker deserves a special mention. Played by the feisty Rose Williams, Claude is one woman who cared tuppence about her royal bloodline and its expectations. Throughout the series, she does as she pleases, even if that meant being inappropriate at times. Although she had a rough childhood, thanks to her mother, Queen Catherine’s disdain of her, she grows up into a confident young woman who doesn’t let anyone boss her around, be it her brothers or potential suitors.
If you haven’t seen Reign yet, I’m hoping I’ve caused enough FOMO for you to go check it out. Trust me, watching these beautiful yet incredibly strong women and their personalities is totally worth watching all the four seasons. You can thank me later.