History is so much fun when viewed through a modern lens and The Serpent Queen is a stylish historical drama featuring the great Catherine de Medici’s rise to power in the 16th century. Samantha Morton breathes new life into the monarch’s story, revealing how a young girl grew up to make the best out of a bad situation.
In late October ahead of the season finale, Starz announced that the series would return for a second season.
One of the things that makes The Serpent Queen so accessible is that it takes history and makes it easy for modern audiences to digest, regardless of whether or not they're familiar with Catherine's story.
Executive producer Erwin Stoff told What to Watch that the concept of a glass ceiling makes it all the more relatable for modern audiences. "When I came into the entertainment business there was a very palpable glass ceiling in the movie and television business," he said. "Yet the business was full of really smart, really talented women who were there to serve the material up to the men who had the power to [green light] it... It was easy to understand the frustration of those women who were kept out of the halls of power simply based on their gender. And I think that's the part that makes [The Serpent Queen] so relatable."
Writer and showrunner Justin Haythe agreed, noting that he wanted the show to be easy for everyone to watch, regardless of their history background. "I wanted to do a show that if you knew nothing about history you could enjoy, I wanted to do a show that you could finish watching and still know nothing about history, you could learn about history if you wanted. It was all there."
Star Liv Hill talked about some of the ways The Serpent Queen was different than other period dramas. "This did happen to these people. They were people with feelings. That’s what I love about the show, it shows that emotional vulnerability that everyone has. A lot of period dramas — not all of them, but a lot of them — the very common way of depicting a period drama is with a stiff upper lip, very devoid of emotions at all times. It doesn’t feel very relatable, whereas I think this show is very modern, from the language to the score, the style of cinematography, the writing. And that’s why I think many people will enjoy it."
Here’s everything we know about The Serpent Queen.
Catherine's story has only just begun. Prepare yourselves for Season 2, #SerpentSquad! #TheSerpentQueen pic.twitter.com/0tQsoHYjVWOctober 27, 2022
The Serpent Queen season 1 episodes
The season 1 finale of The Serpent Queen airs October 30 and is titled "A Queen is Made." Here's the episode description: "The planned kidnapping of King Francis goes awry but Catherine devises a new plan to allow her control of the country."
The Serpent Queen season 1 episode 1: "Medici Bitch"
Airdate: September 11, 2022
"Queen Catherine begins to tell the story of her life to Rahima, a servant girl, revealing how she came to enter the French Royal Court at the age of 14."
The Serpent Queen season 1 episode 2: "To War Rather Than To Bed"
Airdate: September 18, 2022
"Young Catherine begins to learn how to outwit the royal household in order to secure her future after the death of her uncle."
The Serpent Queen season 1 episode 3: "The Price"
Airdate: September 25, 2022
"Prince Henri returns from war with a new mistress, Filippa, and a baby. Catherine resorts to extreme measures to produce an heir."
The Serpent Queen season 1 episode 4: "A New Era"
Airdate: October 2, 2022
"Catherine has become a mother. King Francis suffers a fall from his horse while hunting with Henri and Catherine."
The Serpent Queen season 1 episode 5: "The First Regency"
Airdate: October 9, 2022
"King Henri departs to lead an army to defend France and places Catherine in charge as Regent, allowing her to test her powers further."
The Serpent Queen season 1 episode 6: "The Joust"
Airdate: October 16, 2022
"Catherine has a dream that predicts that her husband will be wounded while jousting; Catherine and Henri decide that their son Francis should delay his wedding to Mary."
The Serpent Queen season 1 episode 7: "An Attack on the King"
Airdate: October 23, 2022
"Mary visits Rahima and recounts her side of the story of life at the Royal Court; Catherine and Mary have conflicting views when it comes to freedom of religion in France."
Poor Filippa. We hardly knew her. #TheSerpentQueen pic.twitter.com/AYs18iF5psSeptember 26, 2022
When is The Serpent Queen release date?
The Serpent Queen premieres in the US on Sunday, September 11, on the STARZ channel at 8 pm ET/PT. It will be available at midnight on September 11 on the STARZ app and on all on-demand and streaming platforms where a Starz subscription is available.
For the UK and other international viewers, The Serpent Queen will be available at midnight on the STARZPLAY streaming platform.
There are eight episodes in the show’s first season.
What is The Serpent Queen about?
Here’s the synopsis of The Serpent Queen from Starz:
"A historical drama with an edge, The Serpent Queen puts a contemporary spin on conventional storytelling to tell the tale of Catherine de Medici’s (Morton) rise to power. In the series premiere, "Medici Bitch," Catherine’s tale unfolds through flashbacks as she defends her actions and imparts the lessons she’s learned to her new servant confidant, Rahima (Sennia Nanua). At 14, the young, orphaned Catherine (Liv Hill) marries into the 16th-century French court. Despite her commoner status, her uncle Pope Clement (Charles Dance), has negotiated a large dowry and a geopolitical alliance in return for the union, and with it comes the expectation of many heirs. However, on her wedding night, Catherine learns that her new husband is in love with Diane de Poitiers (Ludivine Sagnier), a beautiful lady-in-waiting twice his age.
"With her future suddenly uncertain and with little hope of conceiving, Catherine must quickly learn who she can trust — both within her personal entourage of courtiers and the members of the royal court — while outmaneuvering anyone who underestimates her determination to survive at any cost.
"The Serpent Queen is based on the book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France by Leonie Frieda and is from writer and executive producer Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, Red Sparrow, The Lone Ranger). Stacie Passon (Transparent, Dickinson, Billions) directs multiple episodes, including the premiere episode and serves as executive producer. The series is executive produced by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2) and Erwin Stoff (The Matrix, 13 Hours, Edge of Tomorrow). The eight-episode series is produced for STARZ by Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment"
Who is in The Serpent Queen cast?
BAFTA-winner Samantha Morton headlines an all-star cast in this stylish historical drama.
Take a look at the cast and where you might have seen them before:
- Samantha Morton (The Walking Dead, Harlots)
- Sennia Nanua (The Girl with All the Gifts, Frankie)
- Liv Hill (Three Girls, Jellyfish)
- Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, The Sandman)
- Ludivine Sagnier (Lupin, The Young Pope)
- Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Tolkien)
- Kiruna Stamell (The New Pope, Moulin Rouge!)
- Barry Atsma (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Bad Banks)
- Alex Heath (Suspicion, Boiling Point)
- Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones, The Good Karma Hospital)
- Enzo Cilenti (Free Fire, The Last Tycoon)
- Antonia Clarke (Anna, Magic in the Moonlight)
- Adam Garcia (Coyote Ugly, Murder on the Orient Express)
- Beth Goddard (Manhunt, Des)
- Raza Jeffrey (Homeland, Code Black)
- Ray Panthaki (Away, Colette)
- Nicholas Burns (Emma, Harlots)
- Danny Kirrane (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Don’t Forget the Driver)
- Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Adult Material)
Is there a trailer for The Serpent Queen?
As you can see from the trailer, Samantha Morton’s Catherine de Medici is a woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. In other words, you don’t want to get on her bad side.
How to watch The Serpent Queen
The Serpent Queen is a STARZ original. If you have a cable package, you can add it as a premium channel through your cable company or you can subscribe to STARZ directly and watch anywhere. Once you have a STARZ subscription you can watch anywhere, including Roku, Apple TV, Android, Prime Video, XBOX, Samsung, LG or Vizio
STARZ is available in the UK via the STARZPLAY app. It’s also available as a separate subscription through Prime Video or Virgin TV.
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Sarabeth joined the What to Watch team in May 2022. An avid TV and movie fan, her perennial favorites are The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, true crime documentaries on Netflix and anything from Passionflix. You’ve Got Mail, Ocean's Eleven and Signs are movies that she can watch all day long. She's also a huge baseball fan, and hockey is a new favorite.
When she's not working, Sarabeth hosts the My Nights Are Booked Podcast and a blog dedicated to books and interviews with authors and actors. She also published her first novel, Once Upon an Interview, in 2022.