The Romanoffs is an American anthology drama web television series created, written, produced, and directed by Matthew Weiner. It premiered on Prime Video October 12, 2018 and features an ensemble cast that differs from episode to episode, with John Slattery, JJ Feild, Louise Bourgoin, Aaron Eckhart, and Diane Lane appearing across multiple episodes. In July 2019, Amazon announced they have no plans for a second season.
|Created by||Matthew Weiner|
|Directed by||Matthew Weiner|
by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||63–88 minutes|
|Original network||Prime Video|
|Picture format||4K (UHDTV)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||October 12 –|
November 23, 2018
The Romanoffs is a contemporary series "set around the globe, centering on separate stories about people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family."
Cast and characters
"The Violet Hour"
"The Royal We"
"House of Special Purpose"
"Bright and High Circle"
"End of the Line"
"The One That Holds Everything"
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"The Violet Hour"||Matthew Weiner||Matthew Weiner||October 12, 2018|
|In Paris, American Greg Moffat and his girlfriend Sophie visit Greg's elderly aunt Anushka La Charnay after she suffers a heart attack. Greg, secretly hoping that Anushka - who believes that she is a descendant of the Romanov family - will die soon so that he and Sophie can inherit her apartment, hires her a caregiver. The caregiver, a Muslim named Hajar, irritates the xenophobic Anushka, who believes that Hajar is planning to poison her. Despite this, the two grow close over time, realizing that they both see themselves as outsiders and have both suffered great hardships in their lives. Anushka decides to leave Hajar the apartment in her will. In an attempt to convince Hajar to give up the apartment, Greg takes her to dinner and they end up spending the night together at the hotel. Hajar leaves her job with Anushka, and Greg hires a new Russian caregiver. Two months later, Hajar reveals to Greg that she is pregnant. A furious Sophie leaves, but Greg himself is happy about the pregnancy. Upon learning about Hajar, Anushka is delighted, claiming that all she ever wanted was for the Romanov line to continue.|
|2||"The Royal We"||Matthew Weiner||Michael Goldbach and Matthew Weiner||October 12, 2018|
|Michael Romanoff - who believes himself to be a Romanov - and his wife Shelley attend therapy to attempt to salvage their struggling marriage. Shelley, who fails to understand Michael's obsession with the Romanov legacy, learns of a cruise for people who believe themselves to be Romanov descendants. Meanwhile, Michael attends jury duty where he meets British expat Michelle, to whom he takes an instant liking. Michael deliberately brings the jury deliberation to a gridlock, forcing Shelley to go on the cruise alone and giving him an entire long weekend to pursue Michelle. Michael and Michelle have sex in a family lakehouse - where Michael previously told Shelley he hated going - while Shelley goes on the cruise. Pretending to be a Romanov, she meets a man but decides not to have sex with him, unable to cheat on Michael. Eventually, Michael becomes obsessed with Michelle and begins stalking her, leading to her breaking things off with him. When Shelley returns, Michael grows to despise her and hatches a plan to murder her. His attempt fails, and Shelley maces him. After she leaves, Michael lies on the ground, dejected.|
|3||"House of Special Purpose"||Matthew Weiner||Mary Sweeney and Matthew Weiner||October 19, 2018|
|Actress Olivia Rogers arrives in Austria to star as Alexandra Feodorovna in a miniseries based on the history of the Romanov family. Olivia clashes with the director Jacqueline Gerard, who claims to be a Romanov, finding her abusive. The crew begin acting in unhinged ways, such as one actor sexually assaulting Olivia on set after she slept with him the previous night. The only person that Olivia trusts is her smooth-talking agent Bob, who convinces her to ignore the others’ behaviour and remain committed to the project. After refusing to be a part of the film any longer, she gets lost in the forest after wandering off set, and is surprised to find Bob, who tells her to pack. While waiting for Bob to pick her up from the hotel, Olivia is kidnapped by the crew (dressed as Bolshevik soldiers) and taken to a basement with the other actors playing members of the Romanov family. The actors are seemingly slaughtered by gunfire; however, Olivia dies of fright before she is shot. It is revealed that the entire production of the miniseries has been an elaborate ruse, attempting to unhinge Olivia to ensure she gives a realistic performance.|
|4||"Expectation"||Matthew Weiner||Semi Chellas||October 26, 2018|
|The episode takes place over a single day in New York City. Julia Wells, a compulsive liar, and her wealthy husband Eric have a daughter named Ella who is heavily pregnant. Julia meets with Ella for breakfast, where she expresses anger that Ella’s husband is out of the country even though Ella is past her due date. It is revealed through flashbacks that Ella is not actually Eric’s daughter, but the product of an affair that Julia had with Eric’s best friend Daniel. It is also revealed that Daniel is a Romanov historian, who appeared in “The Royal We” as the benefactor of the Romanov cruise, and who wrote a novel that the inspired the miniseries in “House of Special Purpose”. Over the course of the day, Julia’s memories of her affair with Daniel grow stronger and she ponders the decision she made to choose Eric over Daniel. After a tense meeting with Daniel, Julia becomes drunk and forgets that she was supposed to pick up Ella’s in-laws from the airport. Julia is hospitalized for gallstones and is visited by Ella, who reveals she knows about the affair. Julia calls Daniel and the two comfort each other.|
|5||"Bright and High Circle"||Matthew Weiner||Kriss Turner Towner and Matthew Weiner||November 2, 2018|
|Katherine Ford, a professor of Russian literature and a professed Romanov descendant, is close friends with David Patton, a homosexual piano teacher who taught all three of Katherine’s children. One day, Katherine learns to her shock that David has been accused of inappropriate behaviour (the nature of which is not revealed) by one of his students. Finding herself unable to believe the accusations, Katherine resolves to seek the truth by speaking to her children to gain an insight into who David really is. Her son Henry, who is himself homosexual, believes that the accusation is false, and that David is being targeted due to classism and homophobia. David was previously highly regarded among the parents of his students and was well-liked. Katherine uncovers information which darkens her opinion of him, notably that he often breaks into his client’s houses when they are not home, lies about his past and makes inappropriate jokes to his students. Katherine begins to view David as being duplicitous and possibly a sexual predator. It is revealed that David was being accused of was purchasing alcohol for one of his students, which the student made up after being caught drinking.|
|6||"Panorama"||Matthew Weiner||Dan LeFranc and Matthew Weiner||November 9, 2018|
|In Mexico City, gossip columnist Abel is investigating an affluent medical clinic, which he believes is selling snake oil to its wealthy and morally corrupt patients. One day, during the course of his investigation, he meets an American woman named Victoria whose twelve-year-old son Nicky is being treated at the clinic for haemophilia (which he inherited from Victoria, who claims to a Romanov descendant). Abel begins to fall in love with Victoria, but she rebuffs his advances. At the same time, his investigation into the clinic deepens and he begins to suspect it of medical malpractice, giving him a moral responsibility to tell Victoria that Nicky is being treated by an incompetent doctor. Abel continues to court Victoria, taking her and Nicky on a tour of the city, showing them the Diego Rivera mural outside the Palacio Nacional, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the ruins of Teotihuacan amongst other places. Upon presenting his findings about the medical clinic to his editor Frank, Abel quits when Frank dismisses his research as a non-story, to what they toast.|
|7||"End of the Line"||Matthew Weiner||Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton||November 16, 2018|
|Anka and Joe Garner, a couple suffering from infertility, travel to Vladivostok to adopt a baby. Upon arriving, they are made aware of the extreme cold weather and shocked with the poor standard of living. They agree that they will be allowing the child to live a much better life in America. Elena, a social worker, introduces them to their baby. To their horror, the baby has multiple severe disabilities and is covered in a rash (a symptom of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder). Anka and Joe face a disagreement, with Anka feeling cheated by the adoption agency and wants to refuse the baby and Joe feeling a moral responsibility to adopt it. Joe accuses Anka of refusing to adopt an American baby due to her supposed Romanov heritage, while Anka accuses Joe of not understanding how painful the struggle to have a child has been for her. Joe eventually comes to agree with Anka, and they tell Elena they will not be adopting the baby. Desperate to preserve the deal, Elena reveals that there is a healthy baby they can adopt, which they agree to. Upon adopting the healthy baby, they pose for a photo, in which Joe’s smile seems conflicted.|
|8||"The One That Holds Everything"||Matthew Weiner||Donald Joh and Matthew Weiner||November 23, 2018|
|On a train to London, screenwriter Jack Edgar sits next to a woman who tells him the story of Simon, a present-day Romanov. As a child, Simon almost dies in a house fire which kills his mother. He suspects that the fire was lit by his babysitter, Ondine (with whom his father George is having an affair). Simon is sent to boarding school and George and Ondine marry. Years later, Simon tries to reconcile with his ailing father. Failing that, he attempts suicide, but is admitted to a mental hospital, where he accepts that he is transgender, and over time transitions into a woman named Candace. Determined to have her mother's heirloom Romanov earrings, Candace visits Ondine and demands them from her, only to be told that they have been given to George and Ondine’s son, Jack. Back in the present, Jack realizes his traveling companion is his half-brother Simon, now Candace. She tells him that she has secretly poisoned him as revenge against Ondine, and Jack dies as the train pulls into the station. Candace takes her mother’s earrings from his luggage and wears them as she walks past Ondine and Jack’s fiancée.|
On October 26, 2016, multiple news outlets reported that Amazon had won a bidding war among six entities and committed to a straight-to-series order with a $70 million budget for an eight episode first season. The series was to be written, directed, and produced by Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner in cooperation with The Weinstein Company.
On August 29, 2017, the series' creative team was announced. The series’ collaborators include executive producer/writer Semi Chellas, co-executive producers Kriss Turner Towner, Blake McCormick, and Kathy Ciric, along with consulting producers/writers Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton. The series behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Christopher Manley, costume designers Janie Bryant and Wendy Chuck, production designers Henry Dunn and Christopher Brown, and hair and makeup designers Theraesa Rivers and Lana Horochowski. The casting team includes Carrie Audino, Laura Schiff, and Kendra Clark. On October 11, 2017, following reports of sexual abuse allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, Amazon announced that they were "reviewing their options" in regard to their relationship with The Weinstein Company. They subsequently severed ties with the production company. On July 28, 2018, it was announced during the Television Critics Association's annual summer press tour that the series would premiere on October 12, 2018.
From August to October 2017, a series of announcements revealed that Isabelle Huppert, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jack Huston, Amanda Peet, Marthe Keller, Aaron Eckhart, Corey Stoll, Andrew Rannells, Mike Doyle, JJ Feild, Janet Montgomery, Paul Reiser, and Diane Lane had been cast in the series.
From March to August 2018, numerous guest cast members were announced. These actors included Noah Wyle, Hera Hilmar, Kathryn Hahn, Kerry Bishé, Jay R. Ferguson, Ben Miles, Mary Kay Place, Griffin Dunne, Cara Buono, Ron Livingston, Jon Tenney, Clea DuVall, Radha Mitchell, Hugh Skinner, Juan Pablo Castañeda, Emily Rudd, Adele Anderson, Annet Mahendru, Louise Bourgoin, Inès Melab, Michael O'Neill, and David Sutcliffe.
On July 28, 2018, the first teaser trailer for the series was released. On August 14, 2018, a second teaser trailer was released. On August 29, 2018, a series of "first look" promotional photographs from the series was released alongside a full episode lineup of the series featuring episode titles, synopsis, airdates, and a list of actors that would appear in each episode. On September 12, 2018, the trailer for the series was released.
On November 15, 2018, the series held its official premiere at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California featuring a screening of the series. A red carpet arrival was originally scheduled to take place before the screening but was canceled out of respect for the victims of the Woolsey Fire, which was still burning in the Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The series was met with a mixed response from critics upon its premiere. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds a 50% approval rating, with an average rating of 5.77 out of 10 based on 62 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Matthew Weiner's return to television is as handsomely made as it is ambitious and sprawling—unfortunately, it's also fatally indulgent, asking for the utmost patience from audiences without a compelling incentive." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the season a score of 56 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."
Awards and nominations
|2019||Producers Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Producer of Limited Series Television||Kriss Turner Towner, Blake McCormick, Kathy Ciric, Matthew Weiner, and Semi Chellas||Nominated|
|Cinema Audio Society Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Television Movie or Limited Series||Mark Weber, Larry Benjamin, Kevin Valentine,
Chris Navarro, Michael Miller, & David Jobe
(for "House of Special Purpose")
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Excellence in Contemporary Television||Janie Bryant & Wendy Chuck||Nominated|
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- Goldberg, Lesley (March 6, 2018). "Noah Wyle to Star in CBS Racial Drama From Ava DuVernay, Greg Berlanti". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
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- McNary, Dave (January 20, 2019). "PGA Awards: 'Green Book' Wins Top Feature Film Award". Variety. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
- Pedersen, Erik (January 8, 2019). "CAS Awards: 'Black Panther', 'A Star Is Born' & 'Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Nominees". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
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