King Henry VIII: the Original Pimp

By Alexandra Wells

AU Post Staff Writer

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Born late in the 15th century, this monarch was married six times, but beheaded two of his wives.  He also sired 14 children, only eight of who lived past infancy.  Unrivaled in the amount of true drama surrounding his life, King Henry VIII now has an entire series on the Showtime television channel.

“The Tudorsseries began in 2007 and features England’s reign under Henry (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers) during the Renaissance dynasty. The colorful show has been nominated for three Golden Globes and currently holds more than 27 awards.  Creator Michael Hurst, whose earlier works include “Elizabeth, has been nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and Gemini award.

The three seasons begin when Henry VIII has recently become King of England, after his older brother who was destined for the crown dies early and he is forced to marry his brother’s widow, Queen Catherine of Aragon (played by Maria Doyle Kennedy).  He tries desperately with his new wife to sire a male heir for the throne, but when this doesn’t prove fruitful, he becomes frustrated and has multiple affairs.

As he turns to other women in search of a son to take over his reign, he finds Anne Boelyn (played by Natalie Dormer) and soon becomes truly obsessed, an obsession that will come to rule his life and causes the fate of Christianity to diverge.  Throughout Henry’s juggling of women, he turns to male confidants: Sir Thomas More (played by Jeremy Northam), Charles Brandon (played by Henry Cavill), and later Thomas Cromwell (played by James Frain), who all become key sources of advice when the King feels lost or troubled.

The turbulent history of the Tudor era is not very well known by most television viewers, so many can benefit academically while sitting on their couch watching this show.  Although the show is not a strict biography of a previous King of England, it does bring some educational value to the table, helps to visually portray the time period and gives a loose sense of the historical figures’ lives.

Henry’s life is chalk-full of drama, intrigue, deception, arrogance, affairs and corruption.  So what gossip-loving, tabloid-reading viewer wouldn’t love this hour-long show?  Picture a time where royalty could order servants at their every beck and call while the Black Plague ravaged the neighboring poor countryside.

“The Tudors” is a show that helps to decode the mystery of a forgotten era and will be equally enjoyed by both history buffs and the average television watcher alike.  Combine the phenomenal cinematography with the ingenious casting, throw in a unique royal saga and: voila, a television masterpiece is created.

As the opening of the show explains, “You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends.  To get to the heart of a story you have to go back to the beginning.”  “The Tudorsstarts exactly where it should and continues to engage the viewer throughout the entire journey of King Henry VIII’s tumultuous life.