Top positive review
Costume Drama Fans, Rejoice!
June 27, 2017
This is a lush, beautiful, well-acted TV series about the early years of the woman the world would come to know as Catherine the Great.
In the beginning, she was Frederika, a Prussian princess from a family with a rich lineage but poor financial means. At a young age (she was actually much younger than the show depicts), she was carted off to Russia to marry the heir to the throne. Her intended, Pyotr (Peter) is a man-child who is often disconnected from reality and is utterly cowed by his aunt, the current Empress, Elizabeth. As sniveling as Pyotr can be, no one could blame him for wilting in his aunt's presence. She is a strong, imposing figure who rules with a very tight grip. She's a cunning politician and even more fierce than Queen Elizabeth of England over a century before.
Empress Elizabeth tries to befriend Princess Frederika, who she re-names Ekaterina, but she has an ulterior motive: she has no respect for her nephew and feels he would be a poor ruler. She pressures Ekaterina, therefore, to bear a male heir quickly, so that child can take Pyotr's place and she can have the son she never had.
It's gripping to watch Ekaterina navigate the treacherous politics and intrigues of the Russian court while trying to find love and a sense of self.
The costumes in this series make it worth watching for that alone, but the acting is also superb. The actress who playing Empress Elizabeth is incomparable and the actress who plays Ekaterina convincingly takes the viewer from her early teen years to a canny and mature adult woman.
This is definitely binge-worthy, but the episodes are best stretched out and savored because there are only ten!