I was always a huge fan of creator Matthew Weiner’s unforgettable masterpiece Mad Men. It was a slow-moving show to be sure, but it was also an immersive, complex, and ultimately satisfying experience. As a result, I had high hopes for his follow-up, The Romanoffs. Thankfully, we’re off to a great start!
Every episode of the show’s 8-episode first season will revolve around a different cast and a different story. Yup, this is an anthology series in the most literal sense of the word. (eat your heart out American Horror Story). The one thing all these episodes have in common? Each will revolve around someone who believes they are a direct descendant of the Russian royal family. It’s a whacky and bizarre premise, but I trust Amazon (if you haven’t seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you’ve truly missed out on some of the best television of the past year!)
The Romanoff‘s first outing is titled The Violet Hour, and it tells the story of an aging aristocrat (Marthe Keller) and her complicated relationships with both her nephew (Aaron Eckhart) and her caregiver (Inès Melab). It’s a 90-minute long affair, but it’s surprisingly never boring. Shot on location in Paris, this is a mesmerizing production that’s gorgeously brought to life with a real sense of place and charm. In addition, the cast is stellar across the board with layered performances at every turn. Keller is a particular standout as the racist dame at the center of the story. The woman is especially heinous in her treatment of Hajar, her loving (and Muslim) caregiver, and yet she still manages to unearth the heart beneath her character’s facade. Equally amazing is Ines Melab who plays Hajar; the actress imbues her character with a range of warmth and complexity in every scene.
This is a strange show to be sure, and I have no idea how episode two will stack up. But if the rest of the hours are as good, we’re in for a treat!
A stunning introductory hour with insightful characterization and incredible production values.