As I continue to work on my Tudor-era historical novel, I thought I'd post the introductory paragraph of a lecture I delivered last summer in Wales at a conference titled "Representing the Tudors." I'll be releasing the lecture soon as an ebook.
How Issues of Infertility, Illness, and Injury Affect Representations of the Characters in the Showtime TV Series The Tudors
In April 2007 the British-Irish-Canadian television show The Tudors made its debut, and a year later it was referred to as the series that “viewers are eating up” (Gates, 2008). The Showtime series was enormously popular, and this popularity has continued via DVD, Blu-Ray, and streaming. As a USA Today writer observed in an article about the series during its final season, “The 16th-century English king and his Tudor clan are never going away” (Puente, 2010). The Tudors, both as a TV series and as historical figures, have a universal appeal for twenty-first-century audiences. In assessing this popularity, one perhaps thinks first of the themes of love, sex, war, and violence inherent in the series; or of the visual charm of costuming, architecture, and interior design; or possibly of the compelling nature of palace politics and intrigues. But while such representations of the Tudor era are entertaining, one may still wonder what universal elements of the human condition in The Tudors are the sparks that ignite its fire in the imaginations of twenty-first-century audiences. The answer is that problems of infertility, illness, and injury, as well as the characters’ reactions to these, are a large part of what creates the drama of The Tudors; audiences relate to these concerns because such situations create their own human dramas, and taken together these issues are a major common element between twenty-first-century viewers and the characters of The Tudors.