School ended Friday and my four kids stampeded home and took over my house like bored buffalo. There are millions of articles out there about how to keep your kids busy and happy this summer, but what about us I ask you: the poor parents, bored and home alone with our kids?
In order to survive the summer, I need to sneak a little me-time every day while they chill with popsicles in the backyard. My favorite escape is a good, sexy period drama. Preferably made for Showtime because they know sexy. Nobody doesn’t like a period drama, right? They’re like doughnuts and lattes and pizza and apple pie. I can hear the groans from here. Men in tights with swords! Get out your Kindles and iPads and streaming whatevers. Here are four fabulous period dramas to escape with when the summer doldrums hit.
The Tudors. This four-season Showtime saga portrays the reign of Henry VIII, played by Jonathon Rhys Meyers, beginning in 1536 when he meets the doomed Anne Boleyn, through four more wives until his death (from syphilis, rumor has it) in 1547. I just finished neglecting my children for two weeks while I devoured every episode. Not only are the costumes and sets brilliant and the artistry gorgeous, the storyline is gripping and fairly true to history in most important points.
I learned a lot about 16th century English history. Spoilers: Henry is crazy and he kills everyone who gets in his way including any wife that dares to be pretty and young and fails to birth a son IMMEDIATELY IF NOT SOONER. Also, torture in the mid-1500s is not pretty. I was completely ignorant of the religious drama, turmoil, and reformation that underpinned the creation of the Church of England. I thought Henry got pissed off and wanted to divorce his wife, which is true, but it was also a product of very tumultuous religious times.
Besides, Henry Cavill as knight in shining armor Charles Brandon, First Duke of Suffolk? Yes. Please.
Hang on, let’s see that one more time.
No, it’s not just about the boys. God. It’s also about the stunningly gorgeous dresses, which brings us to Downton Abbey, lovingly summarized here. If you are not already two seasons into this British period stunner and drooling in anticipation of the third season (due January, 2013), you are dead to me. The series opens in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic and the death of the heir to an expansive British estate and moves swiftly into WWI with all of its chaos and social upheaval. The plot expertly weaves between the servants of the huge estate and the lords and ladies that wander its halls in gorgeous clothes.
High quality summer entertainment and you’ll be all caught up for the new season after Christmas.
If you’re a hopeless romantic, watch it, if only for the final scene of season two between Matthew and Mary. Worth it.
Third on my list is Pride and Prejudice. I have to throw it in. It’s like the grandmother of period romance. There are several versions all set in the Regency Period and adapted from Jane Austen’s 1813 novel of the same name. I particularly like the movie version with Keira Knightly as Elizabeth and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy.
It has the best line in the history of love-stories, period or otherwise. “You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love – I love – I love you and never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”
The legendary – okay, in some nerdy circles – BBC version with Colin Firth is just as dreamy. It’s a six-episode 1995 British television drama starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Firth as Mr. Darcy, but if you haven’t heard of it already, you definitely don’t care. I adore the quick wit of Jane Austen’s original novel, which is very well preserved in both versions.
The Borgias, my final period pick for the summer, is a new one for me.
I am only a few episodes into this one, but I am SOLD. The series, which stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI with Francois Arnaud as his son Cesare, follows the rise of the Borgia family in 1492 Italy, their control of the Roman Catholic Church and their struggles to maintain their grip on power. Two seasons are already made and Showtime ordered a third ten-episode series for 2013.
It’s rich, it’s compelling, it’s dangerous and for the love of god, I had NO idea the popes had so many children. I wonder how they escaped them in the summer?
What are your favorites? Share!! It’s going to be a long summer.