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Promotional Picture for the Great Season 2
Promotional Picture for the Great Season 2
Culture > Entertainment

The Great: History’s First “Gaslighting, Gatekeeping Girlboss”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

The beginning of the new year is filled with reevaluating and decluttering to make room for some big changes. It’s time for new music, new movies, new podcasts, new information and new series.

Promotions for “The Great” were frequently showing up on Hulu ads, with season two premiering on Nov. 21. In the spirit of trying new things, I decided to give it a watch.

Hopping right in, it has been a pleasant binge-watching this series, getting to know the absolute messiest cast I have ever seen. The concept of turning history into completely baseless reality television was mastered with Clone High, and perfected here.

“The Great” follows the story of Catherine the Great’s succession to power and how she changed Russia into one of the great powers of Europe. I use “follows” loosely because this show is skipping down its own lane all the time.

With the tagline “an occasionally true story,” “The Great” takes the basic premise of Catherine the Great’s history and turns it into a hot modern masterpiece with the most thrilling and intense cast I have ever witnessed.

Elle Fanning presents a positive, but recklessly patronizing persona of Catherine that makes a person want to rip their hair out when she stumbles on her quest for Russia. Peter, the Emperor of Russia, played by Nicholas Hoult, has a sadistic and hubristic lifestyle that couples perfectly with his fragile ego as Emperor.

The way the cast interacts with each other, and the audience, is engaging and nerve-wracking. The number of times you will sit in second-hand embarrassment for Catherine is shocking. At the same time, her prideful, fearsome and passionate nature takes over and really gives a flavor to her character.

Let’s just get down to the aesthetic: I love it so much it’s sickly. It’s all 18th-century noble life vibes and I am projecting onto this show so much.

The dreamlike atmosphere works as a screen for classism and violence. The fashion is doll-like, the castle walls are luxurious, these people live in just one never-ending party until they are stabbed in the back during a coup.

The sexual energy in this show is just as powerful. Everybody is sleeping with everybody. Although questions of faithfulness and union are thrown out occasionally, “The Great” stands by “the nobles were screwing like rabbits” idea.

With all the steamy stuff happening in the foreground, it’s easy to lose sight of how the many archetypes in the story play along in this game of war, classism and social order. Catherine is the childlike and innocent intellectual thrust into the violent political world of 18th century Russia. Her husband is a prideful and bloodthirsty tyrant with dual mommy/daddy issues.

With the aid of a court lady turned serf, a cowardly count, a drunk former military general, and her passionate lover, Catherine must confront her own innocence, condescension, class, education, beliefs and strengths in order to reform Russia into her loving image.

I am indulging in the pleasures and pains of noble life, and I hope this year you do too. To 2022, Huzzah!

Hello, Lovelies! This is your world, but I am making a fuss in it! I am Ngozi Nwokeukwu, a third-year Telecommunications Major currently writing for both HERCAMPUS and MorphoMag! Let me take you on a tour of this mind of mine.