Epic historical dramas are nothing new to TV—the somewhat recent popularity of Showtime’s The Tudors is testament to the fact that audiences can, and do, enjoy TV shows based on real historical events. Even if those historical events are likely to be at least somewhat sensationalized by the writers.
One of the newest historical TV shows in production is Versailles. Versailles will be an English language TV production produced by Canal Plus, and will star George Blagden (of ‘Vikings’ fame) as Louis XIV, better known as the Sun King of France. The show, which is currently filming, has a lot of indicators that it could be a highly successful and top quality show. The production company is well known in France for their lush historical TV shows, the costume and set designers have experience with the lavish types of design required by any show set in Versailles, and the cast has experience working in period pieces.
If Versailles is successful, it could usher in an entirely new era of historical TV. Forget shows like ‘Rein’ that are more pop teen princess than history—Versailles is promising to be a rich, extravagant and yet still historical television adaptation of the complex rule of Louis XIV. Right now, the show is only confirmed for one season—a season which will largely focus on Louis’ rise to power after the death of his mother. After dealing with a failed coup, Louis begins to develop complex, intricate court etiquette that effectively neuters potentially court rebellion and forces the people of his court to spend more time worrying about who has the right to pass the king a glove to build an army or intrigue against him.
If Versailles is highly successful with critics and viewers, it could be a continuation of the series. In this case, the writers could go in two directions: have season 2 continue where season 1 left off, which is likely going to be at the height of Louis XIV’s reign and would therefore continue exploring his political actions and social life during this period; or, the writers could go in a completely different direction and spend one season each exploring the three most famous French kings of the palace of Versailles: the aging Louis XIV, the beloved and then despised Louis XV, and the passionate but ultimately failing Louis XVI. Learn more right over here.