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What You Need to Know About Hulu's The Great

Loved The Favourite? You'll want to check out this new historical satire.
  • Elle Fanning stars in The Great. (Hulu)
    Elle Fanning stars in The Great. (Hulu)

    The key art for The Great (seen above) should be your first hint that the new Hulu series isn't the straight-forward historical drama that its title might suggest. Telling its own version of Catherine the Great’s rise to the Russian throne, the show is refreshingly modern in its style, language, humor, and pace. That is to say, The Great is determined to be anything but straightforward, promising a much different viewing experience than the one provided by last year’s well-made, but all-too-familiar Catherine the Great mini-series starring Helen Mirren. Here's what you need to know about the new series dropping today on Hulu:

    What is The Great? Billed as a “satirical, comedic drama” the series tells the story of Catherine, an idealistic young girl who is sent to Russia to marry the nation’s then-Emperor, Peter. But when her marriage proves to be disappointing, she begins plotting to overthrow her husband and take the throne for herself. Elle Fanning plays the fiery Catherine opposite Nicholas Hoult's Peter.

    Who Made It? The series was created, written, and executive produced by Tony McNamara, best known for his Academy Award-nominated screenplay for The Favourite. All signs indicate that he will be injecting The Great with the same kind of irreverent, blackly comedy in that acclaimed 2018 film.

    The show’s pilot episode was directed by Matt Shakman, who directed “The Spoils of War” episode of Game of Thrones (a.k.a. the one where Daenerys laid the smackdown on the Lannister Army with the help of her dragons and Dothraki).

    When Does The Great Take Place? Unlike most biopics about Catherine the Great, the new series focuses on Catherine during her younger years. Specifically, it is set in the early 1760s, and takes place over the first six months of Catherine and Peter’s marriage, leading up to Catherine’s attempt to oust him from the throne.

    Who Are Catherine's Co-Conspirators? Catherine’s secret allies include her maid, Marial (Phoebe Fox) — a former noble lady who was stripped of her title — her husband’s royal advisor, Orlo (Sacha Dhawan), and her lover, Leo (Sebastian De Souza).

    Is It Historically Accurate? Sort of. The series cheekily bills itself as an “occasionally true story,” which means that only some of what happens is historically accurate. Of course, the overall arc of Catherine and Peter’s marriage — including her plot against him — are based on fact, but aside from those basic story points The Great seems to be telling its own story, free of any major obligations to reality.

    Nicholas Hoult in The Great. (Photo: Hulu)

    How Many Episodes Will There Be? The Great consists of 10 episodes.

    When and Where is it Streaming? The series is streaming exclusively on Hulu, with all 10 episodes dropping today.

    Will There Be Another Season? There is currently no word on a second season.

    Tell Me More:

    • Read about the ludicrous story that first made McNamara interested in Catherine the Great.
    • Learn why McNamara didn’t feel obligated to stay true to history over at Deadline.
    • Find out what critics are saying about The Great by checking at Rotten Tomatoes.

    The Great premieres Friday, May 15th on Hulu.

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    Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.

    TOPICS: The Great, Hulu, Elle Fanning, Matt Shakman, Nicholas Hoult, Tony McNamara