“The Great” is a story I’ve waited to see told for a long time. The story of a young girl, thrown into a hopeless situation, who decides to take matters into her own hands. History is full of such women, though you wouldn’t know it to flip through a history book. Catherine The Great is a blip on the screen of history as far as the educational system is concerned, but upon closer inspection, this remarkable young lady could have faded into insignificance, and instead, made her mark upon the world.
Although our history books may not acknowledge the power behind (and beside, and occasionally, on) the throne, there’s an intriguing aura about the people surrounding a seat of power. As we may recollect, absolute power corrupts absolutely, even those who begin life with a hopeful, optimistic view of humanity. Who’s to say we wouldn’t be the same if given the chance?
How far does one go in order to consolidate power, even if the original quest was for the greater good? These and other questions are posed in Hulu’s re-telling of Catherine the Great’s rise to power, though it remains to be seen if they will be answered satisfactorily. I’m hopeful that because of “The Great”’s high production value, excellent cast (Elle Fanning is absolutely divine as young Catherine), and watchability, that we’ll see more stories about the women who have shaped our history. We could all use a little refresher on what happens when a group of people begin to have a little too much power and their star begins to dance along the horizon.
That’s what kept whispering in the back of my mind while watching “The Great” — that we are now watching America’s star hover incredibly close to the edge of the sky. Will we ignore our history books, fight each other over again, and continue on the destructive path we’re on, or will we decide that this cannot stand, that we will not go down without a fight?
When you’re faced with what seems a hopeless situation, what do you make of it? Do you give up, give in, allow the world to trample you? Or do you take what cards you do have and play them in unexpected ways? What happens if we realize the power we do have, and use that to make the world a more equitable place?
While “The Great” is a luscious period drama, it is also a sharp, biting satire of government, and of people in power who have forgotten that they will be held accountable. No one keeps hold of power forever. There is a warning there for some, and hope for others. Corruption can only go so far before it is rooted out. We’ve seen it time and again, throughout history, though it often seems as if the powerful have forgotten that direst of warnings: “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
If you’d like some fantasy with your history, or some escapist comedy, do please watch “The Great” on Hulu. Season 1 is available now. Then, perhaps, register to vote, take care of yourself and those around you, and do what you can to be part of the change. It’s coming.