The Great: All Episodes
May 25, 2020 7:23 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

The Great, an occasionally true story, is an American comedy-drama miniseries loosely based on the rise of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. All episodes available on Hulu.
posted by jeoc (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I adored this show (I also adored The Favourite, so I guess this particular register of historical travesty is just my thing). If I had to pick highlights, I'd go with the scene in ep 6 that reveals why Mariel's family was demoted (that has to be the most hilariously transgressive thing I've ever seen on television) and the entire episode where Peter meets the King of Sweden.

Want to gush more, but don't want to be spoilerish. This show might not be for everybody, but I think if it's your thing, it's VERY MUCH your thing.
posted by COBRA! at 8:33 AM on May 25, 2020 [8 favorites]

4 episodes in! Huzzah!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:50 AM on May 25, 2020 [12 favorites]

Planning to watch the last couple episodes this afternoon. It's hilarious and sumptuous and appalling. Everyone is at least a little sympathetic and at least a little terrible, which I appreciate.

The first episode was a little too grim for me. It doesn't actually get less grim as it goes (some of the later episodes are objectively worse, if I were to sit down and compile a list of "terrible things that happened in this installment") but the tone of the show really tracks Catherine's mood. Once she has a purpose, so does the show, and there are more moments of levity and humanity to balance the miserable.

Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning are such fun to watch, and the supporting cast is great as well. The credit songs have also been excellent, glad Hulu lets the credits play out so I can enjoy them.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:53 AM on May 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Terrific performances all around in this. The tone of this could be difficult to do right, but i think they nailed it.

I particularly enjoyed the costuming- such an interesting mix of modern touches and fabrics with 18th century silhouettes, and a solid use of costuming to reflect and enhance characterization.

For me it had a lot of the best parts of Game of Thrones: palace intrigue, glorious setting and costuming, characters that are both terrible and sympathetic, with a more enjoyably comedic tone.
posted by jeoc at 10:04 AM on May 25, 2020 [6 favorites]

I'm about halfway through and I love it. I don't know why everyone isn't talking about it. It's so good.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:22 PM on May 25, 2020 [6 favorites]

I adored this. Nicholas Hoult seems to have found his niche playing a hilarious, petty, beautiful wanker.
posted by gaspode at 6:17 AM on May 26, 2020 [11 favorites]

I'm not gonna lie, IG has me figured out cold. This trailer has been turning up in my feed for weeks. The first episode is quite enjoyable, perfect mix of light and dark.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:44 AM on May 26, 2020




I just finished the series. I just.... The end. The end! The. GEEZ.


I know this isn't a spoiler free zone, but I see a lot of comments from people saying they haven't finished the series yet. So I won't... And yet.

posted by meese at 4:48 PM on May 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm three episodes in and loving it.

Does anyone else think Count Orlov is a deliberate critique of moderate liberalism? It was especially striking in the beard episode, how convinced he was in the value of incremental change while being proven wronger and wronger at every turn.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:41 AM on May 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I definitely think there's something to that read of Orlov!
posted by COBRA! at 11:03 AM on May 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

I really hope I don’t ever get cholera. I wouldn’t want to have to give up all the blue foods in my diet.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:26 AM on May 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Has anyone heard if there's going to be a second season? It looks like it's listed as continuing in imdb, and interviews suggest the writer would gladly keep it going as far into Catherine's reign as he could manage.

I thought it struggled with not quite hitting the comedy versus terrible things balance, personally. It could've gone full on farce quite easily, but then they'd have Peter plucking eyeballs out of skulls and ... I dunno, like they couldn't decide whether this is supposed to be a dark comedy or a serious squick moment that Peter is pretty fucked up.
posted by Kyol at 11:01 AM on May 28, 2020

This show is wonderful. Every six months or so I contemplate canceling Hulu and then, like clockwork, Hulu reminds me that they're the only streaming service that gets me.

And I really like what a light touch the show is? Like they're not completely erasing the horror of the setting, but the way the structural helplessness of the protagonist is treated as a game challenge rather than a horrifying, unchanging state of affairs is just what I need from a TV show. And Elle Fanning is funny! I had no idea. (Reese Witherspoon must have some old Election-like scripts she tucked away 20 years ago; she should make one of them with Elle Fanning in the Reese role.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:06 PM on May 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

Just started watching and it is both absolutely hilarious and adorable.

But... "British" accents to stand in for Russian, again? (qv. Chernobyl)

They handle the blackness/ horror well by consistently making it absurd but wow is it dark.

Phoebe Fox / Marial's facial expressions are sublime.

The sets and costumes are astoundingly good, especially for a comedy.
posted by porpoise at 7:40 PM on May 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

I loved just as much as I thought I would! Sure, Catherine gets the hero-edit; so far they're focusing more on the enlightened rather then absolutist part, but a) they're not entirely glossing over the ruthlessness required either, so I don't think it's too pat, and b) it's only supposed to be occasionally true after all, and right now, that spin is just what I need - I'm not in the mood for another anti-hero, I want someone who is easy to root for, someone who's idealistic enough to inspire and still pragmatic enough to get things done. And Elle Fanning is really luminous in the role; it's easy to buy how she would inspire all sorts of things - love, hope, awe and terror (something about those eyes narrowing in that porcelain face.)

And Nicolas Hoult is great as Peter too. Comically awful and pitiful, with moments of relatability he however reliably undercuts with his next horrible stunt - the great dramatic tension for me was worrying that he would show sufficient potential for redemption to make me feel conflicted about Catherine having him killed. In the end, the show does something pretty interesting I feel - there are definitely these glimpses of potential, but the ultimate suggestion seems to me that while reforming Peter might be possible, it's just not worth Catherine's time (and the pain and damage caused to everyone else by his rather less than steep learning curve). The show can make you feel for Peter and still root for Catherine to kill him at any cost, which is a neat trick, I think.
posted by sohalt at 1:32 AM on May 30, 2020 [7 favorites]

We just got to the variolation episode last night. It fell flat for me. Up to that point all the modern-day parallels had been handled pretty well but that one was just an hour of heavy-handed "SEE IT'S JUST LIKE THE DEBATE NOW OVER VACCINES! GET IT? GET HOW MORONIC IT IS TO OPPOSE VACCINES?" Sure I agree with the message but it took me completely out of the setting and made me feel like the writer had a personal bone to pick with, like, a specific aunt on Facebook.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:09 AM on June 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Production started in November 2018 - the whole thing is based on a play that premiered in 2008. Catherine really was one of the first celebrities to have her kids try out this new medical procedure (looked it up on wikipedia, because I also found that just a bit too neat at first), so it's seems a fairly natural choice to use that for the plot. And it doesn't seem like a last-minute add-in, because it's a critical plot point to motivate Catherine finally giving up on reforming Peter. I'm going to assume the topicality is accidental.
posted by sohalt at 9:34 AM on June 1, 2020 [10 favorites]

I don't think any other show has had me feeling that the people in a noble court were so obviously hostages as this show has.

I would run and run and run and hide in the forest until I died.

What kind of ending was that?
posted by Acari at 12:24 PM on June 12, 2020 [6 favorites]

I fully support aristocrats getting executed, so even though I love all the characters, a part of me is glad when they get knifed, poisoned, demoted to servants, etc.
It's great fun.
posted by signal at 7:03 PM on June 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

This was excellent.

Apparently the historical Peter was not killed during the coup, so he should still be around if there's another season.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:42 PM on June 23, 2020

Upon further reading: Peter would could be around for a few days anyway.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:47 PM on June 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

A second season has been confirmed back in May, but no release date given.

I didn't realize that Nicholas Hoult was Nux the Warboy in 'Mad Max: Fury Road.'
posted by porpoise at 6:21 PM on June 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

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