Mary, Queen of Scots: historical figure, tragic queen, and star of the CW's racy period soap opera Reign, which returns Thursday 10/2 at 9pm on the CW with season one now available for streaming on Netflix.
I urge you to signal boost this premiere to your nieces, your daughters, your friends' little sisters and hell, go ahead and check it out yourself because, real talk: there are a lot of poisonous messages floating out there in entertainment directed at young women. Teens are boy crazy, so teen programming is boy crazy, vicious cycle is vicious. Heroic female characters are often written as physically aggressive, emotionally-distant male characters with boobs. And Reign is an antidote for all that.
In addition to being lushly shot, decadently romantic and indulgently fancy (at court, every day is prom) Reign crafts a progressive, "girls to the front" drama while being set in the 16th century.
Here's eight great reasons why Reign is slaying the "style AND substance" game:
8. It's about teens whose decisions really matter: Unlike teen dramas that can only empower adolescents through supernatural means, Reign tells the true story about a time when teens ruled the world. When the average life expectancy is 29, every day counts. When your love life effects the national economy, the drama gets fierce. Reign's plots center on statecraft and politics while being sexy and suspenseful which, damn.
7. Mary genuinely values her agency: The biggest fight Mary has had with her dreamboat husband Francis is over an instance where he took away her autonomy to protect her by locking her in a tower so she missed a ship to Scotland to quell a rebellion. This kind of controlling machismo was played as a complete betrayal and the opposite of romantic, which is frankly hella refreshing. Mary loves Francis, but she loves her agency more
6. Anne of Green Fucking Gables, y'all!: Mary's mother-in-law,Catherine de Medici is played by none other than Megan Follows, who some of you might remember as your childhood hero. As Catherine she's an HBIC who is to poison what Dr. Dre is to beats. She's also the most important relationship in Mary's life, serving as an adversary and mentor in turn. And yes, even though she's not a teen she has relationships and lovers and feelings, which is rad because teens: feelings don't go away when you turn thirty. Trust.
5. Mary genuinely values her female friends: You know how female leads will have super best friends until they get into a relationship and then all their friends disappear? Mary has a crew of well-rounded, three dimensional waiting ladies with independent story lines who she's all about.
4. Queens aren't threatened by other women just trying to get their life: When a "mean-girl" bitchy blonde archetype, Olivia, showed up season one to try and win Francis away, Mary embraced her while asking Francis to please not engage. Olivia went on to have her own well-rounded storyline, emphasizing that the "other woman" is still a human being. The message here is that Mary holds Francis 100% responsible for his own behavior. She doesn't blame other women for his actions, or try to control their behaviors in an effort to control his.
3. Sex doesn't define or embarrass the characters: No one fetishized virginity harder than the 16th century nobleman, but the show uses that same historically accurate aspect to emphasize how little sexual inexperience has to do with the content of your character . Mary's waiting lady Kenna started the season as the randy Mistress of King Henry, now she's married to heartthrob Bash, and their well-crafted romance has become an investigation of sex vs. intimacy and possession vs. partnership in a compelling and sex-positive way.
2. It dissolved the central love triangle like a boss: Love triangles seem requisite for teen programming, and a lot of season one centered on Mary choosing between Francis and his half-brother Bash. Then Mary made a choice, Bash respected that and moved on, and the brothers have repaired their relationship. God bless the show for not stringing along two fandoms season after season with emotional contrivances that make all three leads look increasingly like assholes, but creating characters who act like mature, healthy people and moving on to new ideas.
1. Queens are allowed to cry: Mary is a strong leader who will ruthlessly kill a bitch to protect her countrymen. She also cries when she gets her feelings hurt, makes herself vulnerable to her close friends, and occasionally uses fashion to solidify her political messages. This is called valuing traditionally feminine behavior.
Clearly I'm a big fan. My admiration may also have to do a lot with the castles, fancy balls, ghosts and amazingly talented cast, but I just want all my girls to come hang out in the 16th century tonight. Prithee babes, check it out, it's a good time.