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DVD Review: The White Princess

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Calling all historical drama lovers!

Any fans of historical drama, especially shows like The White Queen and Medici: Masters of Florence, will love this new show. It has it all: drama, romance and more importantly, betrayal. Alliances constantly shift, loyalties are tested and at the end, only one winner prevails.

It may only consist of eight episodes, but boy do they pack a lot in. Picking up just after Richard III has died at the Battle of Bosworth, The White Princess spans many years, exploring both the struggles and triumphs of Henry VII’s reign. 

Though not quite as compelling or gripping as The White Queen, The White Princess still entertains audiences, showing them a world and time about which many know little. Perhaps the greatest success of the show is the casting, with powerful performances by all.

Indeed, it is the cast who truly hold the show together, drawing audiences in and making them feel connected to the characters. This makes certain events and character developments difficult to come to terms with, however, it is those connections and the audience involvement which make for great television.

Particularly impressive performances include those by Jodie Comer (Elizabeth of York), Rebecca Benson (Margaret Plantagenet), Jacob Collins-Levy (Henry VII), Michelle Fairley (Margaret Beaufort) and Patrick Gibson (The Boy). They offer the audience complex characters, who are neither good nor evil, and thus neither easy to love nor hate.

In addition to a strong cast, the show also has an entertaining plot and reasonably well-written storylines. The White Princess follows history in large, depicting the constant struggle Henry VII had to hold on to his reign, especially in the early years. He had many factions and claimants against him, the most well known being The Boy and Elizabeth of York’s cousin, Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick. His reign was filled with turmoil and the threat of war, leaving him more paranoid and insecure as time went on. Despite this, there is a happy ending - though not for everyone of course.

One of the most gripping things about The White Princess is the transformation of all the characters, who change as times goes on. The ground always seems to be shifting in the show, and with it loyalties and alliances. As the characters are backed into situations and forced to act in ways we would not expect, they grow more into themselves and become undeniably more interesting characters for it. 

Elizabeth and her cousin Margaret are two of the most intriguing characters, as both become more hardened and fearsome throughout the series. One of the most compelling aspects of the show is watching these women become calculated and, at times, vicious, all the while retaining the vulnerability and inner warmth that first made us like them. Similarly, Margaret Beaufort remains the ruthless and power hungry woman we came to know in The White Queen, yet we still see moments of humanity and softness which make it hard to hate her.  

On the other hand, Henry seems to get weaker as the show goes on. The constant need to defend his reign clearly weighs him down and with few friends and many enemies, he soon becomes defensive and paranoid. It is surprisingly great to see this transformation depicted, as it is rather interesting to see how a man can change so much in just eight episodes. In addition, it is wonderful to see how Henry’s relationship with Elizabeth changes, as he grows more dependent on her as his insecurities increase.

Overall, The White Princess is an entertaining show that is worth the watch. You’ll get romance, intrigue and a little bit of betrayal, just to keep things interesting. There is some historical basis to the show, however it is not entirely accurate, so some additional research for those particularly interested is advised.

Ultimately, while the show is worth giving a chance, it is not as compelling as its predecessor. Keep this in mind when watching, so as not to be too disappointed.

The White Princess is available to buy on DVD now.

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