The Borgias (Season One) – J. A. Bove
Showtime recently wrapped up their first season of the The Borgias (created by Neil
Jordan) and I thought it was an intriguing show. I had to admit, either through lack of education, or ignorance that I was not all too familiar with the Borgia family history. I am though a person of faith, so I was quite interested in watching Showtime’s version of how they portrayed the history of the papal office back in 1492.
Considering that Showtime recently concluded a very successful series in The Tudors (starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers) back in April of 2010, I’m sure they were anxious to get involved in another historical piece involving a controversial family. I was a big fan of The Tudors therefore I was eager to watch this new series. As to my opinion, I’m still on the fence. I thought the series started off a little slow, but it certainly picked up some steam along the way.
The main character in the story is based off of Pope Alexander VI, or Rodrigo Borgia, played by Jeremy Irons (1990 Academy Award winner for Best Actor in Reversal of Fortune). If this story is factually correct, then this was a very corrupt person. To think that a person of this caliber could rise up and become a Pope is very disturbing. Then again, thinking about the number of scandals involving priests and politicians these days, it’s not that hard to imagine.
Long story short, Showtime portrays Pope Alexander VI as a man who (to name a few) was guilty of adultery, greed, lust, nepotism, simony … I could go on, but I think you get the picture, not very Pope like. This was a man who desired power and riches more than any other trait, and from what I recall in the good book, not good qualities to have. ‘It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle‘, etc. His children appear to lust after one another, if not everyone else, and the family of cardinals despise him. If not for his effective diplomacy and political skills, his reign would have been short lived.
Showtime does a superb job in creating their series, whether it’s their detail to historical accuracy, or their musical scores, you immediately feel drawn into the program. The scenery is spectacular and captures the appropriate time period and of course, the costumes always appear authentic. I also applaud their effort in introducing new actors (to me at least) into production, from Holliday Grainger, as Lucrezia Borgia, to Francois Arnaud, as Cesare Borgia. Very capable actors who truly get into their roles and make their characters believable.
If you’re looking for a convincing historical portrayal of another contentious family, this series is for you. As they say in the promos, sex, murder, etc. If you’re hoping to capture The Tudors Part 2, you may be a bit disappointed. I know it’s hard to make an apples to apples comparisons (only one season vs. four), but for me, at least, it hasn’t measured up to my expectations just yet. Granted, I’m only basing this on eight programs (seems a bit short), but compared to season one of the Tudors, it lacks that punch. King Henry was quite the character and a tough act to follow. That said, I’m looking forward to seeing season two of this series to see if Pope Borgia can push me over the fence.