I’ve resisted watching The White Queen (2013) for, gosh, pretty much 10 years because Starz shows tend to make my teeth itch a little too much. However, while compiling images for James Frain‘s recent Man Candy Monday, I ran into some images from the show that made me take a good, hard look at the costumes. I think I’m getting softer as I age (or my standards have been beaten into submission over the years), but they didn’t look terribly egregious, so I decided I might as well give it a good, hard viewing, as the only other feature we had done on the show was a quick ‘n dirty review by Kendra a number of years ago.
The real hurdle for me, however, will never be the costumes when it comes to Elizabeth Woodville. It is always going to be the fact that I spent a pretty good chunk of my twenties being very obsessed with her. So obsessed, in fact, that I changed my SCA name to be an homage to her (yes, shocking, I’m a nerd, and if you haven’t figured that out by now, I don’t think you’ve been paying attention all this time). Initially, one of my biggest hangups about watching The White Queen was that I feared it would lean in too heavily on the salacious parts of her incredible life. But then I finally realized that was dumb, because honestly, there was very little about Elizabeth Woodville’s life that wasn’t salacious, or at the very least highly provocative. In a lot of ways, she’s the platonic ideal of a historical smut novel’s heroine, perfectly tailored for all the sex and intrigue that Starz audiences lap up. Regardless of the fact that this show started off as a romance novel written by Philippa Gregory, I had a sudden realization that there was very little Gregory could embellish or sex-up that didn’t happen in Elizabeth’s life.
Rebecca Ferguson, who most recently was Lady Jessica in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, is decently cast as Elizabeth. Elizabeth was lauded for her physical beauty, such as her golden hair and fair skin, and of course her voluptuous figure. Ferguson does a good job conveying the early stages of Elizabeth’s future reputation for haughty behavior, unbecoming of the commoner she was born, without making her unlikeable or too much of an ice queen right off the bat. Elizabeth Woodville really rattled the nobility’s ideas about hierarchy just by her mere existence, and she was instantly threatening to almost every member of Edward IV’s inner circle from the very moment he met her. In other words, there was a lot of ink spilled detailing all the ways Elizabeth was a truly terrible person during her lifetime, but very little evidence to back any of it up. One of the biggest accusations leveled against Elizabeth, other than being too pretty, was her insistence on, well, acting like a queen. Which she most certainly was.
So, that’s where I’m coming from with my approach to this series. I expect some interpretations of historical fact to get under my skin, but overall, I’m not sure there are plot point this show can throw out that aren’t actually based on things that happened to Elizabeth or she was at least accused of.
Anyway, you’re not here to listen to my TedTalk, you’re here to ogle costumes. How does the show do on that account? Well, let’s take a look!
So, all in all, this show gets a solid “I don’t hate it so far” from me. That said, I’ve run across some images from later episodes, and I get the distinct feeling that the costumes in those episodes are going to make my eyelid twitch more than the ones in this episode. But I’m not about to quit watching now!
Have you watched The White Queen (2013)? What are your thoughts on episode one? Share them with us in the comments!