Review | Hulu’s ‘The Great’ is a Refreshing, Satirical Drama

The Great on Hulu is a satirical, comedic drama that follows Catherine’s (Elle Fanning) journey as an outsider, as she navigates her way to solidifying her position as a ruler and Russia’s longest-standing empress. It is a fictionalized series that details Catherine “The Great’s” early 20s and her plot to kill her deranged, sadistic husband (true story).

Hulu created a series based on the book and play created by Tony McNamara, which focuses on the history of Russian Emperor Peter III and the fearless Catherine the Great. Their realistic and exaggerated behavior is completely unhinged, daring, and humorous.

It is a series with bold storytelling because of its honesty and vulgarity, especially when Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) is speaking. The Great strongly depicts the Catherinian Era, which really has not been done before.

The Great is incredibly entertaining and charming. The series doesn’t shy away from the fact people in that era were possibly heinous in their personal lives. It is an eye-opening TV series because it featured the murder and torture of women in the Russian Kingdom under Peter III’s rule.

The Great Characters

The Great argument
Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult
Source: Hulu/Thruline Entertainment/Echo Lake Entertainment

The character development for Peter and Catherine shift immensely from the beginning of the series. They even begin to pull traits from each other. At the start, Catherine is a love-struck and naive young woman pulled into the authoritative, violent hands of Peter III. She believed love conquered all and had this romanticized perception of the palace life, until Peter broke her innocence.

In @TheGreatHulu, Catherine’s loss of innocence was probably the most moving aspect about this TV series because she had to quickly adapt to the situations unfolding around her.

Peter, on the other hand, did not care about anyone else but himself. In The Great, we see his narcissism getting the best of him. He doesn’t care for his kingdom or his subjects. To prove it, Peter III did absolutely nothing to help his people. Catherine took notice of his unbearable behavior, which is why any romantic feeling that could have developed between the two of them, didn’t.

The sex scenes between Catherine and Peter were cold and rigid. Neither of them felt anything. To conceive an heir, it had to be that way.

The first half of The Great unveils Catherine’s crushing realization about Peter not being a “normal” human being. In fact, Nicholas Hoult’s ‘Peter III’ is one of the most peculiar characters I have seen on a series in a while.

Catherine builds up her power and forges a plan to take down Peter through her network who have sided with her against the Emperor. Catherine slowly develops the same raw and daring traits as Peter. Then, she utilizes those new capacities against him. She was cunning and knew in order to take Peter down, she had to feed his ego. By doing that, she became more powerful than he could ever be.

The Great Story ArC

Nicholas Hoult as Peter III in 'The Great'
Nicholas Hoult at his best
Source: Hulu/Thruline Entertainment/Echo Lake Entertainment

The humor was quite refreshing and honest, which is why it is easy to fall in love with this series.

This unconventional series allowed Nicholas Hoult to give one of my favorite performances of the year as Emperor Peter III. His line delivery and on-screen presence carried the series and made it so entertaining.

Dirty one liners and ballsy dialogue filled the script. Normally, those phrases would not be in today’s comedies. Hoult and Elle Fanning had such powerful chemistry. They shared their feeling in every scene. Each became more palpable and the closer their characters got to each other, more playfulness resulted leading to a great finale.

Elle Fanning was a dream as Catherine the Great. She embodied Catherine perfectly with a fantastic performance alongside Hoult. It was just such a beautiful portrayal because of her journey as a ruler and a woman. She gave a fearless and ferocious performance. Fanning stopped at nothing to get what she wanted.

In history, Catherine the Great perfectly manipulated Peter III with her intelligence, wit and faux naivete proved she would be the better ruler. The finale was well written and executed so well. The final shot of Catherine left me wanting more and thankfully there will be a Season 2.

The Great on Hulu is one of the best series that has come out this year.

It is fun, sexy, and unique, which will leave you wanting more after each episode. The energy from Hoult and Fanning is infectious. Their chemistry carries the entire show. The endless cycle of manipulation creates a very entertaining atmosphere for the ensemble. Everyone wants to take a jab at Emperor Peter III. It is incredibly binge-worthy, so you will be able to hopefully finish it in one sitting.

If you loved this era of history, then this show is definitely for you!

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