The Great season 2: release date, trailer and everything we know about the period drama

The Great Elle Fanning
Elle Fanning in 'The Great' season 2. (Image credit: Hulu)

Huzzah! The historical comedy series The Great is here with its second season. 

Adapted from his own play, Tony McNamara adapted The Great for television. The show chronicles the rise of Russia’s Empress Catherine the Great in the 18th century. The series was a hit in its first season, receiving an 88% positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes, while McNamara earned an Emmy nomination for writing (the show also received a nomination for directing).

Season 2 sees Catherine (played by Elle Fanning) continue to try and remake Russia. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the show.

When is The Great season 2 release date?

The Great season 2 airs on Channel 4 in the UK starting on Wednesday, July 27, at 10 pm UK. Episodes air every week at this time.

The Great season 2 premiered in the US on Hulu in November 2021. The show also launched on StarzPlay on Prime Video in 2021for UK viewers, though that requires a subscription whereas its airing on Channel 4 is going to be widely available to UK TV households.

What is the plot of The Great?

The Great is a fictionalized, comedic take on Catherine the Great, a European noble that married Russian Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) before taking the throne for herself.

SPOILER ALERT for anyone not caught up with The Great season 1.

The first season dealt with Catherine’s arrival in Russia following her marriage to Peter and her ambitions to overthrow her brash and ineffective new husband and change Russia for the better. In addition to learning the ways of Russia and the royal court, Catherine brings on allies who will help her with the coup. However, the more Peter learns of his bride the more he begins to develop actual feelings for her, as well as the reveal that Catherine is pregnant with his child. That ultimately doesn’t prevent Catherine though from launching her coup at the end of the season.

Season 2 picks up four months after the season 1 finale. The first episode is called “Heads It’s Me” and has the following logline: “Four months after launching a coup against her husband, a pregnant Catherine gains the upper hand in her war against Peter. Being deeply in love with Catherine and their unborn child does little to dissuade her from taking his throne.”

Throughout the 10 episode second season, viewers can also expect more hilarious dealings among Catherine and her closest advisers, possible fallout with Marial betraying Catherine in the season 1 finale, interactions with the ladies of the court and the arrival of Catherine’s mother in Russia.

Who is in the cast of The Great?

One of the best elements of The Great so far has been the work of its ensemble cast, which is hilarious from top to bottom.

Leading the cast is Elle Fanning (Maleficent, The Girl from Plainville) as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite, Skins) as Peter, both giving some of the best work of their careers in the show. Some other standouts from season 1 included Phoebe Fox as Marial, Sacha Dhawan as Orlo, Adam Godley as the Archbishop and Belinda Bromilow as Aunt Elizabeth. Here is the full breakdown of The Great’s main cast: 

  • Elle Fanning - Catherine
  • Nicholas Hoult - Peter 
  • Phoebe Fox - Marial 
  • Sacha Dhawan - Orlo 
  • Charity Wakefield - Georgina 
  • Gwilym Lee - Grigor 
  • Adam Godley - Archbishop 
  • Douglas Hodge - Velementov 
  • Belinda Bromilow - Aunt Elizabeth 
  • Bayo Gbadamosi - Arkady 
  • Florence Keith-Roach - Tatyana 
  • Danusia Samal - Lady Antonia Svenska 

A big addition to the season 2 cast of The Great is Gillian Anderson as Catherine’s mother, Joanna (another historical following Margaret Thatcher on The Crown and Eleanor Roosevelt in The First Lady).

Will there be a The Great season 3?

The Great season 3 is coming, as the comedy series has been renewed for another season. No info was given on when The Great season 3 may arrive, though best early guesses would suggest the first half of 2023.

Is there a The Great season 2 trailer?

The trailer for The Great season 2 showcases the complicated dynamic between Catherine and Peter, as she strives to move Russia forward while he vies to win her heart and then reassert himself as the emperor. Fanning and Hoult again look to be in top form. Watch the season 2 trailer below. 

The Great season 2 fact vs fiction

The Great notoriously bills itself in its opening titles as "an occasionally true story." With that in mind, What to Watch took a look at what exactly is fact and what is fiction for The Great season 2. Read the episode by episode breakdown:

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.