When in Rome


So I’ve been watching new drama The Borgias on Sky Atlantic and I have to say, so far I’m impressed. The series centers around Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons), who in the first episode bribes his way to becoming Pope.  Anyone thinking of accusing me of dishing out spoilers don’t fret. The entire story is about Rodrigo being the pope and how he and his family struggle to keep their new power. Now as I get cynical in my old age I like to pick things apart for being unrealistic. Not The Borigas. It is a perfect depiction of how treacherous life was for a man in Renaissance Italy, whether he be noble or peasant. And it’s got its facts right (or at least what I know of them), from the things that are important to the story (such as the fact that Cesare is in love with his sister and vice versa and not in the family sort of way) to trivial facts that make little difference to the overall outcome (when discussing the great Leonardo Da Vinci’s portraits, a painter says that ‘he rarely finishes’ – Da Vinci was a chronic procrastinator).

The characters, too, mostly match my knowledge of important Renaissance figures, from Niccolo Machiavelli, to Duke Orsini, to the Sforza name. Even Cesare’s assassin, Michaletto is a name I am familiar with. (Thank you Assassin’s Creed for teaching me about the Renaissance)

And you can’t help but like the Borgias. I know that Cesare will grow into a piece of work and that Lucrezia might not stay so adorably innocent for very long, and even that Rodrigo is a lying, cheating, bully, but they are human and you can understand why each one does what they do. It’s the people that aren’t the Borgias that you start to hate. There are some, like Giovanni Sforza (played by Ronan Vibert – nice guy) whom you would rather like to stab violently and cut off a certain area of his anatomy. But I’m digressing and/or ranting.

However, this is not for the sex shy or the faint hearted. There isn’t as much sex and nudity as you might think, but it is violent and sometimes a bit gory. Now I’m totally fine with gore, I learnt all about pheasant’s organs before I even went to school and not from diagrams (to explain and not sound like a pheasant murdering psycho child, my Great Uncle used to shoot game birds and my granddad would prepare them for him and I used to watch while he…well gutted them and then I would ask questions. It was educational and even back then, we didn’t have any daft namby pamby rules that said I shouldn’t be looking at stuff like that. I’m digressing again). Anyway, gore is not a problem for me, but even I was put off by a scene in which corpses had been stuffed and arranged around a table to mimic the last supper of Christ (you think Saw was bad? Pft, I could eat watching that, but not during said scene).

So if you want to watch something historical that’s also fun and you’re not put off by sex and violence (sometimes together unfortunately) then watch The Borgias, Saturday at 9.00 on Sky Atlantic. I’m giving it 8/10 simply because I hate Giovanni Sforza that much.

~ by Jess Wiles on September 5, 2011.

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