‘Anne Boleyn’, Starring Jodie Turner-Smith, Brings a Modern Touch to an Oft-Misunderstood Historical Figure

Jodie Turner Smith Getty 2.jpg
Jodie Turner Smith Getty 2.jpg

It’s been stated that tv is getting weirder, however even by these requirements, Channel 5 has at all times been fairly f**king odd. Launched in 1997 (with the Spice Girls available), it grew to become the U.Okay.’s fifth terrestrial channel and the primary in virtually 15 years. In 2011, publishing mogul and former pornographer Richard Desmond purchased the channel in a film that made many within the media involved. He elevated the programming finances, which included relaunching Big Brother, and went arduous on the sort of programming that would greatest be described as tawdry. Even although he offered Channel 5 in 2014, the stench of Desmond remained, with illustrious exhibits like Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!, Bargain Brits on Benefits, and Celebrities: What Happened to Your Face? That final present was ultimately pulled from their schedule after one of many celebrities featured in it, TV presenter and actuality star Charlotte Crosby, referred to as them out on social media.

The different factor Channel 5 is understood for is royal-related programming. Do you need a rapidly made documentary particular on the battle between the Sussexes and Cambridges that was clearly commissioned, shot, and edited within the house of two weeks? They’ve obtained you lined. Do you are feeling like there aren’t sufficient hours of the day devoted to programming on Fergie, Duchess of York? So does Channel 5. Their nice love, nevertheless, is Anne Boleyn. It’s not precisely powerful to discover programming associated to the notorious and extremely divisive second spouse of Henry VIII. Channel 5’s personal commissioning editor as soon as admitted that he was so fascinated by Boleyn that he would fortunately greenlight any present associated to her. But it’s been a whereas since they did so and other people really paid consideration. Step ahead Anne Boleyn, a three-part sequence that has attracted a lot buzz for 2 causes: One, it’s an unique drama, which Channel 5 doesn’t have a tendency to make a lot of, and two, the title position is being performed by Jodie Turner-Smith.

I received’t bore you with discuss of the standard racist bullsh*t that Turner-Smith’s casting elicited as a result of she deserves higher than that. Yet her presence on this position has clearly signaled one thing fascinating, much more fascinating than Channel 5 usually affords. Were they prepared to rise to the event and provides a massively charismatic actress her dues with a position deserving of her expertise? Or had been they going to go all Channel 5 about it?

Anne Boleyn takes place within the 5 months main up to her execution. She is a girl in a precarious place, a energy participant who’s all too conscious that her crown is slipping. Henry veers between fury and awe at his Queen, the court docket is filled with whispers about her supposed deviances, and there’s a new woman on the block within the type of Jane Seymour. Always an outsider to the machinations of the Tudor court docket, even because the consort to Henry VIII, Anne could also be doomed however she’s not prepared to surrender with out a struggle.

It doesn’t take lengthy in Episode One for Anne Boleyn to set up itself as Not That Kind of Historical Drama. After waking from a nightmare, Anne heads to her husband’s bed-chamber, wakes him with an erotic chokehold, then he goes down on his pregnant spouse. The notion of a historic drama getting attractive is hardly unparalleled in a post-Rome world the place the previous twenty years of the style have been extensively outlined by their willingness to knock boots. Indeed, the Boleyn story has largely been seen as a prime instance of this pattern, whether or not it’s the exceedingly sexy Showtime sequence The Tudors or any Philippa Gregory novel, with the latter additional propelling the picture of Boleyn as a heartless schemer. Seriously, Gregory doesn’t like Anne Boleyn, and it’s sort of bizarre how a lot she performed up the extensively refuted smears that she was sleeping along with her brother. Novelist Robin Maxwell even refused to blurb Gregory’s huge bestseller The Other Boleyn Girl as a result of she discovered its characterization of Anne to be ‘vicious’ and ‘unsupportable.’

Anne Boleyn is clearly on its eponymous lead’s facet. She is completely the ‘other’ in court docket in virtually each manner and no one will let her neglect that, however she additionally wields her energy, nevertheless tender it could be compared to the king, with an iron grip. In one scene, she kisses Jane Seymour, her newest rival for Henry’s love, who’s performed by the achingly youthful and wide-eyed Lola Petticrew. Once she pulls away, Anne smirks and says she will get what Henry sees in her. It’s a fascinating second, someplace between an apparent sexing up of the fabric and subversion of that much-derided picture of Boleyn because the spiteful seductress of the century. It largely works, if solely as a result of Jodie Turner-Smith is in complete management of this materials. She’s witty and sensual but in addition barely concealing her rage over her weakening standing as Queen. Paapa Essiedu from I May Destroy You performs her brother George with a actual keenness that makes his scenes with Anne a few of the extra underrated moments of the primary episode. You totally perceive how, seemingly in opposition to the chances, the Boleyn household pressured their manner into the best echelons of energy.

There’s cash behind Anne Boleyn however not BBC cash, so don’t count on Wolf Hall ranges of grandeur, however these limitations provide inventive alternatives. We sense the unnerving languidness of life in court docket, pampered but eternally below siege by the whims of the King and his sure males. Not a lot occurs nevertheless it symbolizes all the pieces, and the claustrophobia is palpable. It’s all considerably simplified too, with a lot of the broader political machinations omitted or performed down so as to concentrate on the gender and newly added racial tensions that single out Anne as a drawback to be handled. That’s not to say it’s a dangerous determination. Anne Boleyn has principally change into the historic drama model of Dracula, a vessel for creators to discover numerous concepts and issues in their very own manner. This Anne Boleyn is a fashionable girl in each sense of the phrase, and she or he’s a reminder of the ways in which historical past repeats itself. How usually will we see tales of highly effective girls at first celebrated as vibrant and needed earlier than being knocked again down to earth as ‘difficult’ or ‘damaging’? (And sure, the makers of Anne Boleyn have been requested about Meghan Markle a lot.) History might go in cycles however our depictions of it must be riskier than that, and Channel 5 has made a valiant effort right here. Maybe they’ll make investments extra in this sort of programming and retire all of the poor-shaming bullsh*t.

Anne Boleyn wrapped up thisweek on Channel 5. No American launch date has but been introduced.

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Kayleigh is a options author for Pajiba. You can comply with her on Twitter or pay attention to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.

Header Image Source: Photo by Emma McIntyre // Getty Images

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