Reign: TV Review
Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW, starting Oct. 17
Adelaide Kane, Toby Regbo, Torrance Coombs, Megan Follows, Alan Van Sprang, Anna Popplewell
"Reign" brings historical absurdism to new levels and reveals just how dumb The CW must think its audience is to accept such fantasy as fact because real history is "hard" -- especially for a girl. In short, The CW is ruining the country.
Maybe it's time to stop mocking and laughing at The CW -- two things I've done extensively because, well, because the shows and the network often deserve it. In fact, just last week I made fun of Tomorrow People because, like so many shows on The CW, it was exponentially ridiculous.
Ah, but Reign, The CW's newest "historical" drama, is so relentlessly bad, so passionately inept, that in July the network felt compelled to defend to critics its right to take the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, and turn it into something immune to facts (because facts would make it boring to teenage girls) and maintain that interpreting history as nonsensical teen pabulum was the God-given right of creator and executive producer Laurie McCarthy.
I mean, this is a woman who will be introducing into the world "Hunky Nostradamus" -- a stretch that even by the standards of The CW is offensive. It's one thing to re-create Beauty and the Beast with a good-looking, totally buffed-out Beast (he has a tiny scar that only makes him more ruggedly handsome). But it's quite another to make Nostradamus a young, broodingly hot dude.
You're going to pull a muscle pandering like that.
At some point -- and I think this may that point -- it's time to speak the truth: The CW is ruining America. It is dumbing down an increasingly dumb country. Furthermore, The CW, already providing some of the worst role models for young women in this country, hired an actress to play Mary -- Adelaide Kane -- who drank their Kool-Aid and proudly scolded aghast critics who were troubled by the historical license and the message it sent to young women.
"How many teenage girls do you know who are obsessed with history?" Kane asked. "I know I wasn't at that age."
Says the actress who starred in Teen Wolf.
Choosing other interests besides history is fine for Kane. Perhaps she was off taking acting classes instead of trying to lead an examined life. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to have done her much good -- she's wooden and regrettable in her attempt to bring to life one of the most fascinating women in history.
Further stretching the boundaries of historical absurdism, McCarthy has created an entirely fictional love triangle in Reign. You've got Prince Francis, son of the French king, who was a sickly 14-year-old in real life, not the robust, handsome, womanizing young stud portrayed by Toby Regbo in Reign. Then there's Wooden Mary (Kane) and Francis' half-brother, the bastard Bash (Torrance Coombs), who never existed.
You know, because history is boring and Mary led such a dull life, let's set up a love triangle. And let's call the made-up brother Bash.
What The CW is doing here (and Kane perpetuates with her take on teenage girls and their intelligence) is approaching television with the perspective that the target audience is profoundly idiotic. Young girls can't be expected to pay attention to anyone who isn't outlandishly good looking. They can't live in a world where a character -- even one based in history -- is old. And to re-create the history of a woman who actually lived an incredible life would be too arduous a task. Better to have her pine over someone named Bash.
Worse, even though The CW believes girls are only pretty, thin and stupid -- and apparently frightened of men older than, say, 30 -- in Reign we nevertheless get one of Mary's ladies-in-waiting (the hottest one, of course) masturbating on a staircase, then caught in the act and overtaken by none other than the older, bald king.
What the what? Seriously, CW. She's masturbating (after running up the stairs she just seems to remember that she needs to knock that out, so she stops halfway up to her room and randomly gets busy). And then the many-years-her-senior king sticks his hand up her dress and leans in on her? The masturbation element has been minimally edited by The CW in an effort to tone it down.
Oh, wait, I see. You've taken historical fiction and turned it into pulp fiction. Got it.
The list of people who should be outraged at The CW, at McCarthy and Kane, goes beyond teenage girls with a brain, the parents of any self-respecting young woman, smart people in general, history buffs and America at large, but also Scotland and France. While British historical costume dramas have long ago given up on the idea of looking for, say, Italian actors, they usually can find a French actor or someone who can pull off a French accent. But not here. The French are decidedly English. And the Scots are decidedly English. No doubt those involved with Reign thought the youth of America couldn't understand a Scottish accent ("but we've seen Shrek -- give us a chance!").
Basically, the whole world should be mad at Reign and The CW. Remember when the WB and UPN (from their ashes came The CW) gave us Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls? Remember when girls could be badass and smart?
What happened, CW? Why are they so shallow and boy crazy and annoying now?
Maybe I should be asking "hunky Nostradamus" that question.