TV Review: 'Medici: Masters of Florence'

One of Eclectic Pop's picks for 2016's best television series; “Medici: Masters of Florence” boasts an excellent eight-episode freshman season. “Game of Thrones" grad Richard Madden stars as Cosimo de’ Medici, the Medici patriarch who paves the way for his House’s rise to newfound prominence. Sound familiar?

While there is no need to leap through the years as readily as it does, “Medici” gives viewers a jam-packed ride filled with excitement. For fans of “The Borgias,” the show should be a particularly intriguing binge-watch. As it shares that series' sense of adventure, lust, subterfuge, and constant plot twists.


The same could be said for the show’s likeness to “Reign." The CW’s alluring costume drama has a strong connection to “Medici: Masters of Florence” beyond those aforementioned ingredients. On "Reign," Mary, Queen of Scots’ mother-in-law Catherine de’ Medici plays a crucial and central role on the show. As her name suggests, Catherine was a member of House Medici and a pivotal, entertaining player on the show.

“Medici: Masters of Florence” documents Cosimo and his family's tumultuous rise in a mesmeric manner that strikes all the usual notes, while also playing some seldom-touched keys. The romance that courses through the entire season makes the show stand out, exponentially.

Cosimo's relationship with his ethereal wife, Contessina (Annabel Scholey), offers something scarcely seen – a demonstration of growing into love. Instead of instantaneously falling into it, without reason. It is a rarely demonstrated concept that merits more of a spotlight than it has traditionally been given.

Determined to dislike his wife due to the marriage's arranged origins, Cosimo endeavors to be with and love every woman except her. Contessina’s patience and devotion could be perceived as that of an overly long-suffering person, but Annabel Scholey’s portrayal is so regal and dignified she circumvents the notion.

Contessina is the sort of strong character rarely glimpsed today -- one who is simply good. The kind of character often remarked about it in past tense, this show thankfully keeps her front and center, demonstrating fortitude in the face of adversity throughout the season.

For Richard Madden, the struggle is portraying Cosimo’s noble bent, while the Medici patriarch simultaneously acts like a total jerk. It is a lot to overcome, and Madden manages to pull it off, as Cosimo would be even more maddening in lesser hands. Just as he did playing Robb Stark, Madden brings a strong backbone to the role. So, it is nice to see him get to play a character as multi-dimensional as this, and he carries it off to tremendous effect.

Madden and Annabel Scholey also bring a sensational screen chemistry to the screen. It is a rare find in today's entertainment and the show makes the most of it, taking viewers through a lot to see if Cosimo and Contessina's relationship will work out. The smoldering chemistry between the actors keeps you hanging on despite the rough ride.

Every episode builds towards another storyline that will push Cosimo and Contessina’s marriage to the edge of a new frontier. While scandal and political intrigue drive the first season of “Medici: Masters of Florence,” its memorable romance is what makes it endure.

Rating: 8/10

"Medici: Masters of Florence" is currently on Netflix.

[Featured Image by Netflix]

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