Issued a series of “Great” — a black Comedy about Catherine the great. But the Russians should not be offended, and here’s why

Вышел сериал «Великая» — чёрная комедия о Екатерине II. Но россиянам не нужно оскорбляться, и вот почему

Critic Alexey Khromov talks about black Comedy from the screenwriter of “Mistress”.

May 15, on streaming service Hulu has released the first season of “the Great”, dedicated to the Russian Empress Catherine II. The author of this project — the Australian Tony McNamara. In 2018 he’s already got the nomination by nearly all the major film award for the screenplay, the dramatic Comedy “Mistress”.

So “great” everyone was waiting to continue the same style: real events, flavored with black humor. However, the new draft McNamara goes even further. He’s tougher and funnier, but to enjoy it, to forget about the historical basis.

Fantasies instead of real events

A young and naive girl from Germany (El fanning) is sent to Russia to become the wife of Emperor Peter III (Nicholas hoult). In a foreign country, she faces absolutely wild orders and firmly decides to change them. To literally “make Russia great”. For this she needs to sway the Patriarch to negotiate with the military, win the respect of ladies. And of course, dealing with my husband.

You might guess that many will come to mind after reading the synopsis and watching the trailer: “Again, demeaning stereotypes about our country.” Actually it’s not so simple, because Russia is in “great” fictional.

Typical Western clichés appear in the first sentence and scenes. Catherine heard that in Russia a lot of bears and hoped that she too would give one. What happens to the wedding girl giving hand huge beast. And everything is constantly drink vodka and afterwards throwing glasses on the floor. One day Catherine even asks the Emperor: “You must be a lot of dishes broke?”

Вышел сериал «Великая» — чёрная комедия о Екатерине II. Но россиянам не нужно оскорбляться, и вот почему

Frame from the series “the Great”

From one such entry a can illuminate. But this series need to look closely. It is not at all about the story and not even about Russia. Such grotesque surroundings of the eighteenth century suited to almost any European country: the United Kingdom’s “Favorite” not too different.

Only here in “great” not even historical figures. The fate of Catherine very roughly follows the life of the prototype. And Peter III, and not the grandson, and the son of Peter the Great. And his main problem — complexes towards their parents. He wears a mothers necklace or even skirt, trying to invent a sonorous title. Besides, the Emperor is waging war with the Swedes. In General, from a real person are only by name.

Вышел сериал «Великая» — чёрная комедия о Екатерине II. Но россиянам не нужно оскорбляться, и вот почему

Frame from the series “the Great”

About the other characters and can not speak. There is, for example, a character with the name orlo. This is probably a hint at count Orlov. However, it plays Sacha Dhawan, an Englishman with Indian roots. He was seen in the role of the Wizard in the latest season of “Doctor Who”. And it is easy to see black characters, and even among the clergy.

Experts can find some references to real historical figures. And recall a few known facts and legends. For example, about Ivan VI, who was hiding in a secret room. But this is nothing more than fun hints to make it more interesting to watch. Everything else is blatant and deliberate invention. It even specifically announce in the Intro: under the heading is the footnote “sometimes a true story”.

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Private struggle is the life of the country

Almost all the action “great” is set in the Palace and the surrounding area. But do not think that life entourage of the Emperor — a reflection of orders all over Russia. On the contrary, it’s just a private story, by all means disappearing from the scale.

The main theme is the struggle of progress against the ossified order. And because here both sides are shown so grotesquely. If the “Favorite” of coarse the fun part of throwing a person’s fruit was only occasional accents, the series builds on the entire entourage. There is perhaps no one common scene, where the background no one fights, not drinking or not having sex.

Вышел сериал «Великая» — чёрная комедия о Екатерине II. Но россиянам не нужно оскорбляться, и вот почему

Frame from the series “the Great”

Women here do not read, because it is not accepted, men — because it’s “not manly”. Literature loves Catherine and her companions. All indulge the whims of the Emperor, who really only wants to have fun with women. Peter is literally in every episode talking about their own or someone else’s genitals.

But with this and decided to fight Catherine. And after the first comical scenes showing the savagery of the inhabitants of the Palace, the story becomes more slender. The heroine develops a plan and assemble the team that will stage a coup. The companions she has a strange but charismatic: excessively sarcastic servant Meriel, the lover of the Empress Leo Voronsky and cowardly orlo.

Вышел сериал «Великая» — чёрная комедия о Екатерине II. Но россиянам не нужно оскорбляться, и вот почему

Frame from the series “the Great”

Further, the plot develops into a great political Comedy, where everyone has their own interests and everybody is trying to beat opponents. The second episode of the newly made husband and the wife are thinking about killing each other. Then the picture is even more complicated: intervene new political forces, personal interests and more.

Incidentally, this brings us to a very interesting thought: even those who have all the forces fighting for progress and that the “bright future”, often forced to use the dirtiest techniques.

Their role altogether unexpected: it often happens that the action becomes literally a Comedy of the absurd.

Black humor is satire

Perhaps most importantly, what you need to know about the series — its not worth it to watch those who don’t like hard and rough jokes.

Constant vulgar remarks Peter just the tip of the iceberg. Here, every second sex scene turns into a trash‑attraction, until the combination of talking about mothers and oral sex. Is of course not without rumors of when Catherine with horses — one of the most popular obscene legends.

Вышел сериал «Великая» — чёрная комедия о Екатерине II. Но россиянам не нужно оскорбляться, и вот почему

Frame from the series “the Great”

The mummy of the mother of the Emperor is in plain sight. A huge statue of Peter the Great depicts, as he sits on the bear. Some of the characters and even though it came from Comedy troupe “Monty Python”: like aunt Elizabeth, who are trained butterfly and talks to fish.

The absurdity of the situation is emphasised by the soundtrack: the balalaika and chorus singing the “Cossack” interspersed with jazz motives and ends each episode with some modern track.

But in a strange way the best part of the humor is hidden in the dialogues, but not in a wild setting feast. And (according to the precepts of the toughest in the Comedy series) taboo here. Religion, war, death, disease — all joke very rude. And most of all funny.

Alas, hardly even a deliberate refusal of compliance with at least some historical events save the series from criticism. But in fact the project could offend only those who would believe in his truthfulness.

The rest of Tony McNamara just took the famous theme of the confrontation of old and new, has thrown in it a huge portion of the jokes hard and put in entourage, something reminiscent of the Russia of the XIII century. It was really cool and fun.

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