What could be better than Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning playing warring royals during the Golden Age of Russia in a wickedly decadent and dark comedy? These two highbrow favorites display a kinetic chemistry in the first trailer for “The Great,” a new Hulu series which charts the rise of Russia’s longest-running woman monarch Catherine the Great. While the benevolent leader’s later years were recently dramatized by HBO with Helen Mirren, this batty new series focuses on the monarch’s youth and rise to power.
The official synopsis reads: “‘The Great’ is a satirical, comedic drama about the rise of Catherine the Great (Fanning) from outsider to the longest reigning female ruler in Russia’s history. Season One is a fictionalized, fun and anachronistic story of an idealistic, romantic young girl, who arrives in Russia for an arranged marriage to the mercurial Emperor Peter (Hoult). Hoping for love and sunshine, she finds instead a dangerous, depraved, backward world that she resolves to change. All she has to do is kill her husband, beat the church, baffle the military and get the court onside. A very modern story about the past which encompasses the many roles she played over her lifetime as lover, teacher, ruler, friend, and fighter.”
In addition to Fanning and Hoult, “The Great” also stars Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge, Sacha Dhawan, Sebastian de Souza, Bayo Gbadamosi and Belinda Bromilow.
If the tone of demonic revelry and ludicrous self-aggrandizement rings a bell, that’s because “The Great” was created, written and executive produced by Oscar-nominated writer Tony McNamara. McNamara penned the screenplay for Yorgos Lanthimos’ Oscar-nominated 2018 film “The Favourite,” which incidentally also featured a similarly foppish performance by Hoult.
While “The Great” does not promise as much Sapphic intrigue as “The Favourite,” the acerbic script, scrumptious design, and first-rate performances appear to put it in league with McNamara’s previous work. Seeing Hoult and Fanning duke it out in these first snippets, aided by the fast-paced editing and stirring score, promises a lively first season of the Hulu Original.
“The Great” premieres May 15 on Hulu. Check out this delectable treat of a teaser below: