The Tudors - Cover

Everyone has a guilty pleasure in their life, something that completely counters their alleged public tastes or persona, a taste or an activity which they might have a great deal of trouble admitting they indulge. Consider the health fanatic who secretly indulges in the occasional quart of Ben and Jerry’s, the gourmet cook with a liking for chicken Mcnuggets, the littérateur who curls up with a good trashy Jacqueline Suzann novel. I write carefully researched historical novels, and take sure care with the authenticity of them, that the pleasure of watching movies and television set in the same era and place that I specialize in is quite comprehensively ruined. But the Tudors – over the top, flashy, trashy and cheerfully, unashamedly inauthentic as to every category of historical detail – is my guilty pleasure. Yes, I know that all sorts of liberties have been taken with details of the lives of various prominent people at the court of Henry VIII, to the point where reviewers of the Tudors Season One are reduced to incoherent gibbering, and ordinarily I would be gibbering right along with them. But… the Tudors are still my guilty pleasure, and I think there may be two reasons for that. First – because the series dares to re-imagine a very familiar and of-told story, a story which was so complicated, which so well mingled the personal and political, and had such far-reaching effects. Secondly, it is authentic on a psychological level. Henry VIII was once young, dynamic and dangerously attractive, not the peevish middle-aged man in the usual more authentic visioning of his travails and wives. As played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, he is the central sun around which his administration and his court – more or less the same body of characters – revolve. Single-minded, absolutely determined to have his way in matters small and large, he is seen as rather a rock-star king. This may be very close to how he actually was in life, and his court just that scorpion-pit of conflicting and deadly ambitions. Because this is an extended series, there is space to examine some of the secondary threads and characters; in season one, it was the musician Thomas Tallis. In season 2 it is the character of Thomas More (Jeremy Northam), not quite the saint, but rather the lawyer and bureaucrat, increasingly disturbed by how matters are spinning out of control, deeply troubled by his inability to do anything about it or make the king listen to reason. By the end of this season, Henry has rid himself of another wife and has an eye on a third – and almost as an afterthought, separated the Church of England from the authority of the Pope in Rome.

Oddly enough, only two of the features on this set have anything to do with the actual series: a tour of the Tower, and a short feature on various descendants of Henry VIII. All the rest are promotions and episodes of completely different series. All very interesting in their own right, but may leave anyone who wants to know more about the Tudors, or the making of this series feeling a little short-changed. However, there is a lovely on-line amusement – Who the Tudor Are You, for fans who absolutely positively can’t get enough.

The Tudors – Season 2 is available here from and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her most recent book project “The Adelsverein Trilogy” was released in December, 2008 and is available through, here. More about her books is at her website

Be Sociable, Share!