TV Review: ‘My Lady Jane’ is a fantastical whirlwind romance

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Prime/Prime Video | © Amazon Content Services LLC

Rarely will a show come along that can successfully tackle so many romantic tropes. Not only does My Lady Jane perfect this, but it also vigorously takes on the fantasy genre, weaving shapeshifting intrigue and political machinations into a tapestry of action-packed adventure. 

★★★★★

Set in the 16th century, Lady Jane Grey is pushed into a union with Lord Guildford Dudley. As she struggles through a difficult marriage, Jane is thrust upon the throne and must face a bloodthirsty cousin who will do anything to become Queen. Meanwhile, animals who can take human form, otherwise known as Ethians, plague England, whilst ordinary humans, or Verity, are trying to drive the Ethians out of society. 

Its historical revisionism that is fantastical in nature. To take the true story of Lady Jane and adapt it only makes sense if major changes are made, so this is a true stroke of genius. The original novel by Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand reimagined the Tudor era as a world brimming with whimsy and anachronisms. Directors Jamie Babbit and Stefan Schwartz bring this world to life and inject it with colour, wit, and a healthy dose of rebellion. This fresh take on a well-trodden historical period is thought-provoking, allowing viewers to connect with Jane’s plight in a new light. 

Emily Bader leads the cast as Jane, the resilient nine-day Queen. Bader holds viewers’ attention with ease, portraying her not just as a pawn in political games but as a clever ruler with a surprising amount of agency for her time. She is accompanied by Edward Bluemel, who portrays her husband Guildford. Bluemel brings a charm to Guildford that helps the character jump seamlessly from page to screen. His initial frustration with the arranged marriage gives way to a sweet and supportive partnership with Jane, making their unexpected rise to power even more heartwarming. 

Emily Bader (Lady Jane Grey), Jordan Peters (King Edward) in ‘My Lady Jane’ | Photo Credit: Jonathan Prime/Prime Video | © Amazon Content Services LLC

The pair’s chemistry sizzles on-screen. Their banter is witty and playful, even when they disagree. This dynamic tension keeps viewers engaged, unsure whether the couple will lock horns in a comedic argument or share a surprisingly tender moment. Bader and Bluemel don’t shy away from the physical aspects of their relationship either. The show’s intimate scenes are tasteful but undeniably passionate, further solidifying the bond between Jane and Guildford. 

While the series is undeniably focused on Jane and her relationship with the crown, other plotlines keep My Lady Jane from becoming just another period piece romance. Jordan Peters portrays King Edward VI, who faces a murderous plot against him by his own sister, Princess Mary, who craves the throne. Peters nails the King’s youthful defiance, which is only burdened by his burgeoning illness. Furthermore, Kate O’Flynn injects the princess with a maniacal ambition that makes her a villain not to be underestimated. She is accompanied by Dominic Cooper as Lord Seymour, who fuels the flames of Mary’s ambition with whispers of court intrigue and promises of support. 

Rob Brydon (Lord Dudley) in ‘My Lady Jane’ | Photo Credit: Jonathan Prime/Prime Video | © Amazon Content Services LLC

Rob Brydon’s Lord Dudley is a delightful highlight of the series. Despite his initial role in manoeuvring her into the marriage, his dry wit and unexpected loyalty to Jane create a complex and endearing character. This web of political choices and personal loyalties adds to the intrigue of who Jane can truly trust and how she will navigate the treacherous waters of the Tudor court. 

My Lady Jane launches itself into the absurd by including Ethians and Verities in an otherwise seemingly normal period drama. It places a spotlight on division. Instead of the usual religious strife, it conjures a world fractured by a hidden ability: shapeshifting. Here, Verities fear and ostracise the Ethians. Lady Jane, thrust onto the throne, becomes an unlikely champion for unity. She grapples with tough decisions that, strangely, can almost be reflected in real history regarding division. 

Infused with modern tunes ranging from CHINCHILLA’s rendition of highly popular classic The Chain by Fleetwood Mac to Wet Leg’s Wet Dream, the music only raises the bar set by this series. It is a constant reminder that the viewer is not watching period-accurate events—or world-accurate, for that matter—and tells a magnificent story. 

Emily Bader (Lady Jane Grey), Edward Bluemel (Lord Guildford Dudley) in ‘My Lady Jane’ | Photo Credit: Jonathan Prime/Prime Video | © Amazon Content Services LLC

Costuming and set design tie everything together in a colourful bow. While maintaining the fashions of the time, women’s striking dresses and embellished headdresses are infused with shimmering fabrics and modern embroidery. Men’s doublets and hose are stunning in colour, with their elaborately pleated ruffs bigger than ever.

A must-watch for anyone seeking a show that blends historical intrigue with fantasy elements, My Lady Jane throws audiences into a whirlwind romance, witty banter, and action-packed adventure. It tackles so much but its style remains distinct in its vision throughout. It’s a period drama with a modern twist, offering a powerful female lead, a swoon-worthy romance, and a touch of the unexpected. Whether you’re a fan of historical fiction, fantasy, or simply a good story, prepare to be bewitched by this triumph in television.

Words by Gemma Nettle


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