Looking for a new obsession? Medici The Magnificent needs to be your next binge. Here’s why.
If you’ve ever thought history was boring, Medici The Magnificent will put that misconception to rest. This series, a follow-up to what Frank Spotnitz’s Big Light Productions began with Medici Masters of Florence, follows the rise and fall of the infamous Lorenzo de’Medici. (Lorenzo was also known as “The Magnificent,” hence the name of his two-part feature in the overall three-part series.)
Skeptics who may have stayed away from this gem because they don’t necessarily consider themselves particularly interested in the Renaissance Period will almost instantly regret waiting so long. The series’ theme from Paolo Buonvino & Skin, opening credits, and gorgeous overall look all combine to give the appearance that just like the powerful character at its center would have wanted, Medici The Magnificent is a work of fine art.
Of course, with all the options out there, a television show needs more than just great music and scenery. And Medici The Magnificent has everything a viewer could possibly want. The story will keep you on the edge of your seat; and rather than wasting time, every second has meaning. If anything, it’s all over far too soon.
The series features a cast so good, it’s difficult to highlight a single actor’s performance. Since Medici The Magnificent is centered around Lorenzo de’Medici, though, it’s certainly worth taking a pause to applaud Daniel Sharman’s turn as the central character.
Also of note: Thanks to an emphasis on female characters not often found in the history books, much less in TV’s historical dramas, every portrayal of the Medici women is a gift to watch.
Whether it’s Sarah Parish as Lucrezia, Annabel Scholey as Contessina, Synnove Karlsen as Clarice, or so many others, the writing and acting for each and every one of these people reminds us that Florentine women could have been just as formidable as their male counterparts.
Allowing these women to have more of a voice is one of the key places where Medici The Magnificent bends, and sometimes even breaks, the truth about history. But it’s also one of the elements of the series that makes it particularly strong. Besides, if we’re not allowed to play “what if” with some of the more unjust aspects of our past, what would the point in historical fiction even be?
All of this praise should come with one warning: Anyone familiar with Spotnitz’s previous work, particularly on some of the more soul-crushing episodes of The X-Files (see also: “Memento Mori,” “Per Manum,” “DeadAlive,” and “Trustno1”), should know to expect plenty of tears. For those viewers who have not previously fallen victim to the angst monster, prepare yourselves.
Even after so much less time spent with the Medici family than with everyone’s favorite truth-seekers, one tends to become very invested. With that attachment, unfortunately, comes the inevitable heartbreak.
And yet, a good cry over a TV show is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered. In which case, a dose (or two, or ten) of Medici The Magnificent is certainly the perfect prescription.
This series truly has everything—it even makes the distant past feel like it’s happening to us, right now. But don’t take our word for it. Take a trip back to 15th Century Florence, meet the Medici, and get ready to be obsessed.
Medici The Magnificent is now streaming on Netflix.