Reign (TV series)
Reign is an American historical romantic drama television series following the early exploits of Mary, Queen of Scots. The series, created by Stephanie SenGupta and Laurie McCarthy, premiered on October 17, 2013, on The CW, and concluded after four seasons on June 16, 2017.
|Created by||Laurie McCarthy|
|Opening theme||"Scotland" by The Lumineers|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||78 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Original network||The CW|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||October 17, 2013 –|
June 16, 2017
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||22||October 17, 2013||May 15, 2014|
|2||22||October 2, 2014||May 14, 2015|
|3||18||October 9, 2015||June 20, 2016|
|4||16||February 10, 2017||June 16, 2017|
The highly fictionalized series follows the early exploits of Mary, Queen of Scots. The first season opens in 1557, with Mary living in a convent in France, but she is quickly returned to the castle where we learn she is awaiting her marriage to Prince Francis, to whom she has been engaged since they were six. Mary has to contend with changing politics and power plays, as well as her burgeoning feelings for Francis and the romantic attentions of Francis's bastard half-brother, Bash. Francis's mother, Catherine de' Medici, secretly tries to prevent the marriage following Nostradamus's confidential prediction that the marriage will lead to Francis's death. The series also follows the affairs of Mary's Scottish handmaidens Kenna, Aylee, Lola, and Greer, who are searching for husbands of their own at French Court.
The second season opens after the death of King Henry II, and follows the rise of Francis and Mary as King and Queen of France and Scotland. Together they have to balance their marriage with their roles as monarchs, and deal with the rising religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants, as well as the ambitions of the rival House of Bourbon for the throne of France.
The third season follows Francis's declining health and his death partway through the season, leaving Mary a widow and struggling to find new footing since she's no longer bound to France as its queen. Francis's brother Charles is crowned the new underaged king, with Catherine as regent. The third season also introduces the court of Queen Elizabeth of England, who plots against Mary, fends off marital prospects, and deals with her secret love affair with Robert Dudley.
The fourth and final season has Mary returned to Scotland and trying to regain power in her homeland. She has to manage her allies, such as her bastard half-brother James and the outspoken Lord Bothwell, as well as her enemies, such as the Protestant preacher John Knox. Tensions mount between Mary and Elizabeth, with Mary marrying Lord Darnley, an English Catholic claimant to the English throne, in the hopes of taking England. In France, Catherine has to protect her son, King Charles IX, from the ambitions of her daughter Queen Leeza of Spain and her younger son, Henry.
Cast and characters
- Adelaide Kane as Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots
- Megan Follows as Catherine de' Medici
- Celina Sinden as Greer of Kinross
- Toby Regbo as Francis II of France
- Torrance Coombs as Sebastian "Bash" de Poitiers (seasons 1–3)
- Anna Popplewell as Lady Lola (seasons 1–3)
- Caitlin Stasey as Lady Kenna (seasons 1–2)
- Alan van Sprang as Henry II of France (main season 1; recurring season 2)
- Jenessa Grant as Lady Aylee (season 1)
- Jonathan Keltz as Leith Bayard (recurring season 1; main seasons 2–4)
- Craig Parker as Stéphane Narcisse (seasons 2–4)
- Rose Williams as Claude of France (seasons 2–4)
- Sean Teale as Louis, Prince of Condé (season 2)
- Rachel Skarsten as Elizabeth I of England (guest season 2; main seasons 3–4)
- Ben Geurens as Gideon Blackburn (seasons 3–4)
- Charlie Carrick as Robert Dudley (season 3)
- Spencer MacPherson as Charles IX of France (recurring seasons 1,3; main season 4)
- Dan Jeannotte as James Stewart (recurring season 3; main season 4)
- Jonathan Goad as John Knox (recurring season 3; main season 4)
- Will Kemp as Darnley (season 4)
- Rossif Sutherland as Nostradamus (seasons 1–3)
- Anastasia Phillips as Leeza of Spain (guest seasons 1; season 4)
- Amy Brenneman as Marie de Guise (seasons 1–3)
- Nick Slater as Henri of Valois (guest seasons 1,3; season 4)
- Michael Therriault as Aloysius Castleroy (seasons 1–2; guest seasons 3–4)
- Anna Walton as Diane de Poitiers (season 1; guest season 2)
- Katie Boland as Clarissa (season 1; guest season 2)
- Gil Darnell as Christian, Duke of Guise (season 1; guest season 2)
- Yael Grobglas as Olivia D'Amencourt (season 1)
- Kathryn Prescott as Penelope (season 1)
- Giacomo Gianniotti as "Lord Julien"/Remy (season 1)
- Alexandra Ordolis as Delphine (seasons 2–3)
- Ben Aldridge as Antoine of Navarre (season 2; guest season 3)
- Vince Nappo as Renaude (season 2)
- Mark Ghanimé as Don Carlos of Spain (season 3; guest season 4)
- Clara Pasieka as Amy Dudley (season 3)
- Tom Everett Scott as William (season 3)
- Nick Lee as Nicholas (season 3)
- Nathaniel Middleton as Christophe (season 3)
- Nola Augustson as Lady Lennox (season 4)
- Steve Lund as Luc Narcisse (season 4)
- Adam Croasdell as Bothwell (season 4)
- Toby Regbo was credited as main cast through the fifth episode of season 3, and for the series finale.
- Jenessa Grant was credited as main cast until the eighth episode of season 1.
- Jonathan Keltz was credited as main cast until the sixth episode of season 4.
- The role was previously portrayed by Peter DaCunha in season 1.
- The role was previously portrayed by Caoimhe O'Malley in season 1.
- The role was previously portrayed by Jackson Hodge-Carter in season 1 and Tomaso Sanelli in season 3.
In February 2013, The CW announced its order of a pilot for a TV series based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, created by Stephanie Sengupta and Laurie McCarthy, and produced by CBS Studios. Part of the reason McCarthy chose Mary Stuart as the subject is because of her life history and multiple husbands, which makes her story "sexier". The pilot was directed by Brad Silberling, with Sengupta and McCarthy as the writers and executive directors; Sengupta left the team in May 2013, leaving Laurie McCarthy as the sole showrunner. On February 9, 2013, it was announced that Australian actress Adelaide Kane would be playing the main character.
In interviews preceding the premiere, showrunner McCarthy described the show as deliberately taking liberties with history, and that it's more "entertainment" than history, while actress Anna Popplewell referred to the show as "fantasy history", exploring the characters in hypothetical situations. Actress Megan Follows described the show as "24 for the pre-Renaissance", as the show tends to extend historical events over a longer period of time. McCarthy added that the show is designed to be interesting to a contemporary audience, so viewers who aren't familiar with history will be able to watch and relate to the characters. Among the creative choices is the use of modern music in the show soundtrack, and its costumes. The show's costumes are designed by Meredith Markworth-Pollack, who worked on the CW's other shows Hart of Dixie and Gossip Girl, who created different looks for Mary and her ladies, each to complement their differing personalities. The ladies: Lola, Kenna, Greer, and Aylee, are loosely based on Mary Beaton, Mary Seton, Mary Fleming, and Mary Livingston who were ladies-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots.
Kane auditioned when she was filming a recurring role on the third season of MTV TV series Teen Wolf. When Kane got the part, the Teen Wolf writers wrote her character off the show. Kane is part Scottish on both her mother and father's sides, and is possibly a descendant of the real Mary, Queen of Scots through her mother. Kane did research on the historical Mary Stuart in preparing for the role. Toby Regbo was cast as Dauphin Francis before March 1, 2013, and British newcomer Celina Sinden was cast as Mary's lady-in-waiting Greer on that date. Torrance Coombs was announced as having been cast as Sebastian, one of the leading characters, in March 2013. Sebastian is an original character created for the show, so Coombs didn't have as much research in preparation for the role, though he faced the challenge of changing his performance from that in The Tudors, another historical TV series he'd been involved in. Alan Van Sprang, who was cast as Henry II of France, modeled his performance after Bill Clinton. In November 2013, Amy Brenneman was announced as having been cast as Mary Stuart's mother, Mary de Guise, a role that initially went to Brenneman's Private Practice co-star Kate Walsh, who was unable to commit due to conflicting filming commitments. On March 10, 2015, it was announced that Rachel Skarsten has been cast as Queen Elizabeth, a role that debuted in finale of season two and become a regular in season three. Showrunner McCarthy described the addition of Elizabeth as expanding the scope of the series, and that she will be part of season three's focus on the show's three queens.
A large part of the filming for the first season took place in Toronto and the Republic of Ireland. The third and fourth seasons were also largely filmed in Toronto. Rockwood Conservation Area near Guelph, Ontario and Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, Ontario have also been used to mimic 16th-century Scotland for the show's production.
Editing for sexual content
The show's pilot was distributed on May 20, 2013, to advertisers and critics for promotion and to generate hype. The pilot was edited before its final airing on October 13, trimming the sexual content of the scene where Kenna masturbates after witnessing a bedding ceremony. A later episode of the season, 1.13 "The Consummation", has two versions: an on-air cut for television broadcast, and an online streaming version with additional sexual content that was made available on the CW's website a few hours later. This action was criticized by the Parents Television Council for putting sexual content online "where presumably children will be able to watch them with no rating or blocking capability".
Some of the Differences between Reign and History
As already stated, Reign is more 'fantasy history' than a closely accurate period drama, but it does combine history and fiction in different ways.
For example, in Seasons 2 and 3, with the character of Antoine of Navarre, who is inspired by his historical counterpart; the ambitious Antoine wants vengeance on the Valois for the death of his and Louis' elder brother, Marcus- who was apparently killed in suspicious circumstances (killed by the fictional 'Bash', Sebastian de Poitiers) during the Italian Wars, presumably on Henry/ Henri II's orders, as the Bourbons are 'Princes of the Blood'- and their House could legitimately compete for the throne against the young Valois brothers and their half-Italian regent mother. However, there is no ‘Marcus’ as already stated, Reign had a habit of renaming characters who had the same name, more often than not; Mary's ladies are just the most obvious example. There was an elder brother, but he died in infancy; Antoine himself was the eldest-surviving brother.
The next-living brother was Francis/ François de Bourbon, Count of Enghien, who died young in an accident- he was, in fact, not only a participant in the Italian Wars (the second-last campaign, 1542-46), but he was given command of the French forces and won a victory in 1544 (the Battle of Ceresole). He died two years after them, at the age of 26- not during, as though it was some kind of wartime cover-up- and, Henry's father, Francis I was king at this time - Henry did not even become king 'til 31 March 1547, by which time 'Marcus'/ Francios was already long dead; there were about five years between the campaign that Francois fought, and the last, which Henry led. Louis was the youngest of the three brothers mentioned/ seen in the show, but he historically also had two younger brothers; Charles and Jean.
It was Mary's Franco-Scottish child-courtiers who were sent to a convent for the furthering of their education, not Mary who grew up alongside her intended and her royal in-laws.
Several of Mary's courtiers and attendants, sent with her from Scotland have been cut out of the story, or combined with other characters; 'Kenna' and 'Lola' (of 'the Four Marys') seem to have been combined with two other ladies who had romantic liaisons with the French king.
Catherine de Medici is shown much more powerful early on (S1 and 2) than she actually was; the most powerful woman in the French Court in Henry's reign was, in fact, the King's long-term mistress, Diane de Poitiers (Comtesse de Breze by marriage and Duchesse de Valentinois in her own right, by grant of the King)- Catherine held very little authority while Henry lived.
Diane and Henry never had a son together. Diane had two daughters by her husband, who were central figures at Court; they were head of the Queen's household and Governess to the Royal Children. The show also never mentions the fact that Diane and her royal rival, Catherine were, in fact, related; both were descendants of the de La Tour d'Auvergne family- they were cousins: the maternal grandfather of Catherine (daughter of Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne ) was the brother of the paternal grandmother of Diane.
It also goes without saying that she was not strangled to death by Catherine after Henry's death, Catherine assumed the reins of power for her young son- and took charge of everything related to the Royal Family; despite Henry repeatedly calling for her, Diane was never sent for nor did she attend the King's funeral. She was requested to return Crown Jewels that had been lavished on her, to the new Queen, Mary of Scots and Catherine confiscated a property that Henry had given to Diane several years before, though she granted her another in exchange for it. Diane would die at the age of 66.
There is some measure of legitimacy to the depiction of the character of Munroe, leader of the McFee (also spelled Clan MacFie) (played by John Barrowman)- however, nothing about the history of the Scottish Clans mentioned here, or later in the series nor their relations with the Scottish monarchs is so cut and dried, as is presented.
Lola who was based off Mary Fleming is never stated to be Queen Mary’s second cousin in the series. Furthermore Mary Fleming was never beheaded for attempting to kill Queen Elizabeth under the presumed orders of her own Queen which lead to her to two more decades of life unlike Lola who died at 18-19 in the season 3 finale.
Reign was announced on The CW's 2013 autumn line-up on May 10, 2013, placing it in the Thursday timeslot following The Vampire Diaries, its biggest hit in young women demographic. The show had its series premiere on October 17, 2013, in the U.S. In Canada, the series airs a day earlier on M3, in simulcast with The CW on CTV Two, and in reruns on E! Canada. Beginning with season three, the show move to the latter network.
In New Zealand, Prime premiered the show Thursdays at 9:30 pm, starting November 21, 2013. In Australia, Reign was originally scheduled to premiere on Eleven, but premiered on Fox8 on August 5, 2014. In Ireland the show broadcasts in the early mornings on RTÉ2 each Thursday at 02:15. The first two seasons of Reign are available for online streaming on Netflix in the UK and Ireland. New episodes from Season 3 onwards are uploaded weekly to Netflix in the United Kingdom as the exclusive broadcaster hours after they air in the US, but not Ireland where they are exclusive to RTÉ until the season finishes airing.
All four seasons are available for streaming on Netflix in the U.S. and the Middle East, and a great part of Europe.
Response to the show was mixed, with various critics highlighting the show's focus on romance and teenage drama instead of historical accuracy. A number of reviewers compared it to Gossip Girl, with similar emphasis on fashion, drama, and soap opera antics. The review of the pilot by The New York Times described Reign a strong candidate as a "camp classic", calling it fun and acknowledging its historical inaccuracies. The reviewer of The A.V. Club described the show as more "an alternate-universe fanfiction than anything pretending to approach history", calling the show camp and fun. The Miami Herald described the show's opening episodes as "surprisingly entertaining", with Adelaide Kane's portrayal of Mary as "a teenager with a dawning realization that her royal caprices can have unexpectedly grim consequences offers an interesting take on the traditional coming-of-age story". The review of Flavorwire described the show as "fantastical princess wish-fulfilment", a guilty pleasure that is relaxing to watch, and that its historical inaccuracy is to its advantage: "There is something about abandoning all pretense of authenticity that gives this story a lightness it badly needs; dead-seriousness just isn't something that plays all that well at the moment." Community Voices highlighted Reign as an interesting departure from The CW's other shows, but described it as stuck in a rut, making it difficult to sustain a show that's "built on a binary premise: either Mary and Francis are coming together or they are drifting apart." A review by a The Los Angeles Times critic was more critical, saying that the "sexed-up version of high school with horses" show "does not deserve" its main character, who is described as a "The Princess Diaries knock-off", but acknowledged that the show is self-aware of its position as a guilty pleasure. USA Today is also critical, describing the show as anachronistic and "dumbing down" history for the sake of entertainment.
Awards and nominations
|2014||Hollywood Post Alliance Awards||Outstanding Color Grading – Television||"Pilot"
David Cole – Modern VideoFilm
|The Joey Awards||Young Actress age 9 or younger in a TV Series Drama or Comedy Guest Starring or Principal Role||Vanessa Carter||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Breakout Show||Reign||Nominated|
|Choice TV: Female Breakout Star||Adelaide Kane||Nominated|
|Choice TV: Male Breakout Star||Toby Regbo||Nominated|
|Monte-Carlo Television Festival||Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series||Torrance Coombs||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Adelaide Kane||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite New TV Drama||Reign||Won|
|2015||Golden Maple Awards||Best Actor in a TV series broadcast in US||Torrance Coombs & Jonathan Keltz||Nominated|
|Canadian Screen Awards||Best Achievement in Make-Up||"Consummation"
Jenny Arbour, Linda Preston
|Canadian Screen Awards||Shaw Media Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role||Megan Follows||Nominated|
|2016||Canadian Screen Awards||Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Fiction Program or Series||"Acts of War"
Phillip Barker, Robert Hepburn, Brad Milburn
|Canadian Screen Awards||Shaw Media Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role||"Three Queens"
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||TV season||Rank||Avg. viewers|
|1||Thursday 9:00 pm||22||October 17, 2013||1.98||May 15, 2014||1.24||2013–14||158||1.94||0.9/3|
|2||22||October 2, 2014||1.01||May 14, 2015||0.83||2014–15||164||1.72||0.7/2|
|3||Friday 8:00 pm (1–10)|
Monday 8:00 pm (11–18)
|18||October 9, 2015||0.95||June 20, 2016||0.93||2015–16||186||0.97||0.5/2|
|4||Friday 9:00 pm||16||February 10, 2017||0.78||June 16, 2017||0.75||2016–17||161||1.10||TBD|
Home media releases
Novels based on the series authored by Lily Blake have been published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
|Darkness Rises||May 20, 2014||Digital Short Story||ISBN 978-0-316-29611-3|
|The Prophecy||September 23, 2014||Novel||ISBN 978-0-316-33459-4|
|The Haunting||December 9, 2014||E-Novella||ISBN 978-0-316-33455-6|
|Hysteria||May 12, 2015||Novel||ISBN 978-0-316-33462-4|
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- "Reign: Hysteria". hachettebookgroup.com. Archived from the original on December 6, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.