Matt’s Rating:

Forget “will they or won’t they?”

In the PBS import Marie Antoinette, a tongue-in-rouged-cheek tackle a interval biography, the query is when will the diffident younger Dauphin, later King Louis XVI, take his teenage Austrian bride, Marie Antoinette, to mattress? Their relationship is proven to be shrug at first sight, however the gossipy 18th-century French courtroom hangs on these political pawns’ each transfer. After all, as Marie’s mom the Empress Maria Theresa (Marthe Keller) impresses upon her earlier than sending her away, “Your job is to deliver the heir.” Yeah, however first issues first.

For a lot of the stylized first season, written by The Favourite’s Deborah Davis and ending effectively earlier than the fateful Reign of Terror, Louis (gawky Louis Cunningham) flees on the very sight of Marie (a wonderfully saucy Emilia Schüle) in a sexual panic. She’s annoyed by his rejection, however he’s simply unhappy and pitiful, to the delight of these elaborately bewigged vultures and ghouls who mock and taunt these shellshocked children.

Marie’s reception is chilly from the second she crosses into France and meets the monstrous mistress of family, Madame de Noailles (Laura Benson), dubbed “Madame Etiquette” for her strict and humorless adherence to protocol. Which apparently means taking away poor Marie’s canine like a European model of The Wizard of Oz‘s Miss Almira Gulch. “A French princess does not display her feelings — and never cries in public,” scolds the Madame. Point taken.

Subtlety is not a virtue in a series that adopts a powerfully feminist sensibility amid jarringly modern vernacular. (I doubt “Wham, bam, thank you ma’am” was a part of anybody’s vocabulary again then.) Purists will scoff, although others may benefit from the sight of folded paper doves flying by an opulent Versailles, containing vile rumors like an early type of Twitter. With spies at each keyhole, do these not-quite-lovebirds stand an opportunity?

The early chapters are enlivened by James Purefoy’s droll tackle Louis’ lusty father, Louis “Papa Roi” XV, and Marie’s jousting with the king’s possessive and jealous mistress, the fabled Madame Du Barry (Gaia Weiss). But as soon as they’re out of the image, and the bratty new Queen turns her Petit Trianon chateau into a celebration palace, it’s exhausting to muster a lot sympathy for these spoiled royals and their reprehensible foes.

Is it incorrect to be counting the times till the French Revolution?

Marie Antoinette, Series Premiere, Sunday, March 19, 10/9c, PBS

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