Written by Rachel Buchman, GPB
If she needs advice, she’ll ask for it.
This is what the newly appointed Queen Victoria insists to her advisors in the first episode of PBS’ new series Victoria, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for television. As the change in the United States Presidency approaches, people ask themselves “How much of the Inauguration and political coverage do I feel comfortable watching, if at all?”. Many thought that it was time to elect the first female leader of the United States, and those hopes were dashed when Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election. With Donald Trump moving into The White House, women look to other sources for inspirational leadership.
With this in mind, Victoria is a worthy addition to any television schedule on Sunday nights. Jenna Coleman (of Doctor Who fame) stars as the titular queen, who upon being informed her uncle, the King, has died, takes no time in adapting to her new role as monarch of one of the greatest nations in the world. The men in parliament doubt her abilities and wonder if her age and sex makes her qualified to be in charge, and those close to her plot to control her every decision. Thus in the first episode, Victoria makes it clear that she’ll look for assistance as she sees fit.
Which she does. After all, she must understand the full responsibilities of being a queen. She pledges her trust to Prime Minister Lord Melbourne (played by Rufus Sewell), a prominent leader of the Whig party whose days as Prime Minister are numbered. Members of the Tory party are displeased, as is Sir John Conroy (played by Paul Rhys), who has formed a close relationship with Victoria’s mother (the Duchess of Kent) and would wish to see her rule as Regent instead of her daughter, so he can influence her as he sees fit. But Victoria Creator, Executive Producer, and Writer Daisy Goodwin chooses to show a blossoming infatuation Victoria has with Lord Melbourne, something that while may not have been historically accurate, Yet it reveals that despite being a queen, Victoria is still an 18 year old young woman who feels attraction and affection as easily as the servants downstairs who help run Buckingham House (soon to be Palace, as Victoria exclaims as she moves in).
Viewers may recognize actors from other programs, such as Tom Hughes as Prince Albert (Dancing On The Edge, Miss Marple) and Nell Hudson as Miss Skerrett (Outlander), which proves to be an enjoyable game of “Where Have I Seen That Actor Before?” amidst the political and romantic issues of the day which Victoria must contend with in her early reign. But above all else, Victoria is firm in her decisions on love and life, and handles criticism gracefully (usually) while being honest with her priorities and feelings. Something leaders no matter the time period and country could stand to learn.
Victoria airs on GPB on Sunday nights at 9 p.m., now through March 5th.