'Becoming Elizabeth' Review: STARZ period drama is bold and unique take on Tudor era
The newest period drama from STARZ is much darker and riveting than all the shows that we have seen in recent years
Period dramas are always fascinating, but it’s really hard to make one. In recent years, TV shows such as ‘The Crown’ and ‘The Gilded Age’ have been some of the few shows that have taken the world by storm with quality content. However, a new series has made a grand entry in the list of period dramas that are hard-hitting and engaging as well.
Titled ‘Becoming Elizabeth’, the STARZ series revolves around the younger years of Queen Elizabeth I, aka Elizabeth Tudor. In recent years, the period dramas have only focused on the lives of British queens after they were given the crowns, but the network is taking a new approach this time around and focusing on something that has never been explored before. The best part of ‘Becoming Elizabeth’ is that it shows that Queen Elizabeth was not the only woman who wanted power in her own hands. In that era, there were many strong women who were ready to do anything and everything to have absolute power. As the series progresses, you’ll see how riveting it is to see these women fighting for what is rightfully theirs.
The first episode is all about Elizabeth’s (Alicia von Rittberg) traumatic and abusive relationship with her older guardian, Thomas Seymour (Tom Cullen). At first, it’s really disturbing to watch how Thomas flirts with an underage girl. However, he has his own motives and they are suspicious as hell.
One of the most striking parts of the show is how it has used English courts in diabolical ways. They are dark and have low ceilings and the makers use these settings to put the main characters in the dark and sometimes quite literally. The show never feels like it’s been dragged and every piece of information you get is important. Full marks to the writers for keeping the story so unique and dramatic.
As far as acting is concerned, Alicia von Rittberg is astonishing as Elizabeth Tudor. She is the first German actress to play the British monarch and she embodied her character so well that you’ll be forced to think that Elizabeth I must have been like her. She is picture-perfect and it’s exciting to see how she makes everyone realize that Elizabeth was confused and lonely even after she had the power in her hands.
Romola Garai is fabulous and effortless as Mary because her character is so nuanced and torn between her loyalties and her own political ambitions. Meanwhile, Jessica Raine as Catherine Parr is extraordinary. On the other hand, Tom Cullen as Thomas Seymour is diabolical.
However, it’s Bella Ramsey who steals the show with her impeccable acting. She took the world by storm with ‘Game of Thrones’ and she gives another award-worthy performance in the STARZ drama as well. This makes me really excited for ‘The Last of Us’ and the layers she’ll be bringing to her character on the HBO show.
All in all, ‘Becoming Elizabeth’ might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it is undoubtedly one of the best period dramas on television right now and also, in the last 10 or 20 years. It is dark, much more disturbing than the other period shows we have seen before and we just hope that it remains consistent.
'Becoming Elizabeth' is currently streaming on STARZ.