author C.C.Cole's blog

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On Factual Fiction

"The Tudors"

Since the cable series “The Tudors,” we’re continuing to see ongoing viewing of historical series as the ongoing “The Borgias.”  As I’ve written before, I have a preference for fact over fiction when it comes to crime reading and to some extent, I do like biographies of historical figures over novels or series based upon them.

However, like many others, I find myself succumbing to the 21st century on demand small screen at home, finding myself lacking in time for reading and watching is easier for a migraine patient than reading.  I admit “The Tudors” wound me in unexpectedly a year after it ended, though it seemed over-sexualized at the time, I’m not so sure after “Game of Thrones.”  To be clear, I liked the series, didn’t love the series, which means, I’ve seen the episodes twice at the most.  Once I’m addicted to something on screen, it truly takes a large number of views before I’m done.  I studied “The Dark Knight” carefully probably fifty times.

Why did I like “The Tudors?”  What did it have other than women taking off heavy dresses rather quickly and Henry VIII’s desires to be fleeting and frustrating for him.  When the heads began to roll (literally) it did bring other elements than sex to the story.  But elements of this over-stylized cable drama did happen historically.  And despite his pettiness, his immaturity, and his disloyalty, Henry VIII did historically change England forever by splitting from the Catholic Church and forming the Church of England.  The series did carry out this important part of Henry’s life well, and included his daughter Mary, who remained a devout Catholic, for history buffs to follow what happened later with “Bloody Mary.”

So now I’m on “The Borgias.”  I admit I’ve not been quite the study of Italian Renaissance period other reading “The Prince.”  Like “The Tudors,” it’s stylish, fairly sexualized, with almost every weird abomination of this family I’ve seen on documentaries and read about.  But something’s missing, and it certainly isn’t the lead actor.  I like Jeremy Irons in just about everything.  They lie, cheat, extort, steal, with some incest thrown in (yuck!) so the dreadful Borgia goodies are all there.  What’s my problem?  Why do I consider the fiction cable series “Boss” a better characterization of the Machiavellian philosophy, when the original writing is based on Cesare Borgia?

I think what happens in history-based fiction has a lot to do with the history itself.  Henry VIII was not a rose, but in the minds of non-historians “The Borgias” carry an extra-ugly reputation.  Is this deserved?  This is what’s good about historical dramas; questions are left open for us to ponder and read more about the historical events.  I suspect there’s plenty of good and bad to go around in those dangerous times, and if these dramas bring remembrance to those days, maybe we can appreciate these days more.


  1. I haven't seen The Tudors or The Borgias, but both sound interesting. Are they available on disk? I enjoy historical books, too, as long as they are well-told. Haven't picked up the Thrones yet, but I did notice it was available at the library.

  2. The Tudors are on Netflix and a dvd set. I haven't seen The Borgias.

    I watched the Tudors with the assumption that at least some of it was embellished and historically inaccurate. I mean, the real Henry VIII was no where near that sexy, but I certainly didn't mind watching Jonathan Rhys-Meyers take his clothes off. :)