5/9/2017 2 Comments
Victoria (Series 2) | Review
The new series of ITV's royal drama Victoria opens one month after the end of series one. While Victoria (Jenna Coleman) has been recovering from childbirth, Albert (Tom Hughes) has been presiding over the Queen's kingdom. When confinement becomes too much for the eager Queen, she forces her way back into her role as ruler, only to find that her time away was much isolating than she thought. On top of it all, Victoria is faced with a political crisis as the British military in Afghanistan must retreat from their mission.
The second series of Victoria offers more than just beautiful dresses and period-specific decor (although not too much more). Although the plot gushes melodrama (sometimes just too Upstairs Downstairs for my taste) and often lacks any substance, the strength of the show comes from the wonderfully rounded, complex, and powerful titular character (played gorgeously by Jenna Coleman). Many programs, movies, and series today try to capture the complexity of a strong woman and her place in a man's world. Some succeed, and some fail miserably. The sheer nature of Victoria (a very uppity costume drama) automatically raises the red flag, yet to my absolute surprise, Victoria sets the bar high in feminist literature. Despite her small stature, Daisy Goodwin's Victoria dominates the throng of pushy, "think they know it all" men surrounding her. She doesn't give up her responsibilities as Queen for motherhood (in fact, she kinda hates motherhood). She's strong willed, intelligent, commanding, regal, all the while being caring, sensitive, insecure. She's a feminist icon (and, quite frankly, my new hero). Goodwin has completely captured the essence of the modern women in the historical Queen. (Perhaps that's a testament to why we need more women screenwriters writing female roles).
Jenna Coleman continues the arch of this fabulous character with a nuanced and skilled performance. The subtleties of Coleman's performance -- her wide eyes, sly glances, stern expressions --- reveal exactly what the Queen is thinking, feeling, and confirming without her having to say a word. She doesn't let her her tiny frame, compared to the overbearing stature of the men, affect her control of a scene, rather it just shows the power she has over these (metaphorically) tiny men. She may be small, but her strength can fill a room. It's a wonderful performance that shows a wide range of Coleman's skill as an actor.
Victoria further stuns, much like the first series, with its gorgeous costume and set designs. It's clear why Britain gets the reputation of being the country of costume dramas -- because they're so good at it. Similar to how Downton Abbey made its mark on television history, the costuming and sets are executed to the most meticulous details, bringing a stunning life Victorian England. If there is any reason to watch Victoria, it's to appreciate the craftsmanship of the production.
Despite its rather mundane plot and sometimes overly melodramatic nature (it is a costume drama, after all), Victoria flourishes with a beautiful production and well-rounded Queen. The stunning performances and pretty dresses are really the only reason I will keep watching, though.
Victoria airs on ITV Sunday evenings at 9.05.
I can never become a queen. Not because I cannot lead my people, but because I would not be able to sacrifice my own happiness and desire for love just so I can my people. I find it unfair how all happiness can be so easily stripped away from royal family members. It is such a shame that they have to give up their own chance to be happy just to lead a group of people who are often against them. It makes no sense loving a country who does not love you back.
Upper Ground Production
This is a great comment! I can see two different sides to this argument. Firstly, royalty are often brought up to know that will have to sacrifice themselves for their country. It's their divine duty to serve their country and people. So, to sacrifice their happiness and love is just 'part of the job.' They don't really every have the opportunity, like us, to think about their own happiness because their happiness is defined for them before they are even born. Whereas we are told that our happiness comes from being loved and having stability, they are told their happiness is to serve their country and to protect their land.
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