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Is ‘My Lady Jane’ The Next Historical Comedy We Need?

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WSU chapter.

If you’re like me, you absolutely eat up historical shows. There’s something just so good about them. Maybe it’s the intricate costumes or a deep fascination with tales of times long past. Or, it could be the romance of it all. I love stories about royalty and balls and swordfights. It’s hard to believe that at some point in time, that was a reality. 

As a longtime fan of the book My Lady Jane, I couldn’t believe it was getting an adaptation. It’s a book that deserves way more hype than it gets, and I’m thrilled at the chance for its audience to grow. If you like to read, I’d highly recommend picking it up. It’s written by three different authors, Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand, and Brodi Ashton. It also is a part of a series that retells the stories of historical Janes and Marys. 

My Lady Jane is about Lady Jane Grey, who we may know as the Queen of England who only inhabited the throne for nine days. But, of course, that’s not how this story goes. This retelling occurs in a world where the Catholic vs. Protestant rivalry is replaced with Ethians vs. Verities. Ethians are people who can shapeshift into animals, and Verities are normal humans. 

The story starts with Jane’s marriage being arranged to Lord Guildford Dudley. She is flabbergasted at this since all she truly wants in life is freedom and books. Guildford is known to be a bit of a rebel, staying out all night and sleeping through the day, if you know what I mean. So naturally, she isn’t happy with the arrangement. Until she discovers his true motive: he needs her to cure him of his Ethian-ness. 

Naturally, the story goes on with Jane being forced to take on the throne. The show is rich with comedy, royal drama, politics, and romance. In a lot of ways, the adaptation is very successful, but it also just cannot match the magic of the novel

When I first heard that there was an adaptation being made, I was worried. Shapeshifting and animating creatures, or even training real animals is notoriously hard and badly executed in a lot of shows. I also heard no one talking about it up to the release, other than the authors, who I follow on Instagram. I wondered what sort of adaptation it would be. After watching the original trailer, I had seen no mention of Ethians, so I worried that was being taken out—thank goodness it isn’t. I also liked the narrator, though I wish that the voice would have been a woman, just as a fun nod to the authors. It was developed by Prime, who I believe have outdone themselves before with many adaptations, like The Summer I Turned Pretty and Daisy Jones & The Six. 

I believe Prime also outdone itself with this adaptation. It is much better than the trailer suggests. But does it stand up to the book? 

Both are marketed as historical comedies, and I believe both have this nailed. What gets weird about the adaptation is that it brings up so many more harsh and mature topics, yet takes them and tries to make them funny. In the book, there are no sex scenes, but in the adaptation, there are tons. The weird part about this is that most of the sex scenes are done with comedy being at the forefront, which makes it awkward to watch, in my opinion. 

Towards the beginning of the show, I believed it stayed similar enough to the book. There were a few differences, like how Guildford is Gifford (just call him G) in the novel. In the adaptation, Jane also has sisters, which is canonically accurate with history, so I like that change. Guildford also searches for a cure for his Ethianism in the show, while that isn’t quite the same as what happened in the book. These changes are small, and I don’t entirely hate them. 

But towards the end of the show, I started to realize some fundamental parts of what made the novel my favorite wasn’t going to be included at all. While I don’t want to spoil this for anyone interested in reading or watching the series, the ending of the show felt incredibly rushed and inaccurate. The pacing of the rest of the show was perfect, and I easily binged all eight episodes within 24 hours. Yet, the way it ended was incredibly abrupt. It didn’t feel like an ending, instead, it was as if they had hit a cap at eight episodes and needed to end the script. 

But if I hadn’t read the book many times before, I likely would’ve been thrilled to watch this show. I found it entertaining and fun, as well as very high-quality. It is a nice mesh of historical and fantasy that I rarely read or see on screen, and I’m thrilled that a new audience can find it. If you’re a fan of historical shows like Dickinson, this show is perfect for you. I’m hoping to see a further season or an adaptation of another book in the My Lady Jane series. But as any bookworm would say, the book was better. 

Rebecca Lommers is a writer for Her Campus Washington State University Chapter. She also is a non-fiction intern at Blood Orange Review, and in the past, she has worked at the Yakima Herald Republic as a journalist for the high school division of the paper. She also has worked in retail at a thrift store. Rebecca is a current junior at WSU, and she is working towards a degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing, a certificate in Editing and Publishing, and a Music minor. After graduating, she hopes to become an author, work in publishing as an editor or agent, or work as a professor. In her free time, Rebecca likes to write, read, and watch video essays on YouTube. She is very passionate about music, and she plays piano and guitar. She is currently working on writing a novel that she hopes to one day publish.