Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Medici - NOT The Borgias

The Borgias renewed my interest in historical dramas, especially ones filled with murder and sex. The Medici family played a tangential whole in the grand machinations of Pope Alexander and his son Cesare, so when Netflix released the first season of their show Medici: Masters of Florence, starring Richard Madden, I was hoping to continue enjoying a story that was bright and compelling, and visually stunning.

Medici is not any of those things. It had murder and sex. It showcased wonderful acting  on all fronts. But that didn't save the storyline. I'm sure most of it was accurate, but that doesn't mean it was compelling to watch. And the decisions that the characters make, especially Cosimo de Medici, annoyed me to no end. He was not the strong and charismatic leader that I reveled in with Cesare. Cesare was bad-ass, and no matter what that guy did I rooted for him. And believe me, he did it all. But the story was framed in such a way to put you in his corner. Cosimo, on the other hand, is cold and calculating, but not always with success, and is very distant from his family. The many domestic scenes are devoid of passion-either love or hate, so I'm not drawn in by their drama. 

I was surprised by how much I came to appreciate the other characters in the show, in relation to Cosimo's general jackassery. First was his wife Contessina, who was an absolute badass on a horse in the Signoria, Florence's elite council. Their son Piero came into his own, with the help of his wife Lucrezia, who was not as stupid as she looked. The same was true for the manservant Marco Bello, who was a pleasure to watch in every scene, and the brother Lorenzo: a complicated man, but not without interest. That being said, my shrugging indifference to the show doesn't have anything to do with Madden's performance. The actor was top notch. The character, not even close. And I think I have to blame the writing for that, for basically putting him in the center of his family's suffering. Even if that was the case, the person who forms the center of this little universe is the person you end up caring about the least, and that's not good television.

Utterly spoiled by these bastards

Coming off The Borgias, which in terms of production was an absolute work of art, Medici was a poor substitute. Everything was always muted and grey, very much like those Claritin commercials before they peel away the film that represents your allergies, and as a result the impression of wealth and splendor in Florence was entirely lost on me. 

Whether or not I watch the second season depends entirely on what else is available on Netflix when it is released, and the fervor of my husband's bromance with Madden at that time.

K Rating: 6/10


  1. I too was entranced by The Borgias, and loved Cesare's every move-even when he killed his own brother. I cheered him on relentlessly in everything he did. I didn't know about Medici, and after reading your blog, I'm glad I didn't!

  2. Cesare totally redefined "badass" for me. Now nothing else compares. If you're into period dramas I would recommend Verssailles-the first season is on Netflix now. Review coming soon!