Royal Tea: Screen Time Edition


Valeria Velasquez

I’ve written college essays about the maintaining of this blog, had countless laughter sessions while reading my own writing (if I don’t think it’s amusing, who will?) and have spent hours looking for the most captivating royal scandals. While one may wonder how I’ve managed to bring so many different topics to the surface, it’s a little secret of mine that a lot of my blog posts are inspired by various TV shows and films. Aside from making my research smoother, period dramas are my one true love–I’m never quite as captivated with other genres. On this penultimate episode of Royal Tea, I’ll be listing down the period pieces that fueled my obsession with frivolous costumes and occasionally difficult-to-understand comedy.

1.The Favourite

I watched this on Christmas Day with my cousin, Rolandito, who flew in from LA for winter break. The two of us were bored out of our minds so we took a risk. After eating some less-than-stellar Jack-In-The-Box–which happened to be the only establishment willing to serve customers on Christmas–we drove over to Ragtag, hoping we could find a movie that wasn’t made for audience members over the age of sixty-five. Luckily, we found The Favourite, a stylized comical masterpiece that kept my eyes glued to the screen for its entire two hour and one minute run: for me, it was the type of film that was like the last piece of chocolate pie–I never wanted it to end. In this film, a doe-like Emma Stone plays Abigail, a lady-turned-Palace-maid, who manipulates her way into Olivia Coleman’s Queen Anne. At the center of the film is a dynamic menage-a-trois between Abigail, the vulnerable Queen Anne and her representative, Lady Sarah Churchill.. The film is much, much more complex than that and includes a unique concoction of 18th century lesbian romance, breathtaking fisheye-lense shots and hilarious dialogue. NOTE: Emma Stone’s british accent is delectable. Great job, Emma. I didn’t really like you after playing an Asian-American in that one movie with George Clooney that’s as memorable as the gum you stuck to the underside of your middle school bleachers. Anyhow, you did a fantastic job at playing an ambitious snake and I commend your abilities to beautifully annunciate the c-word.


2. Atonement

I rarely trust Netflix’s “Recommended for Me” category, largely because it scares me that companies craft elaborate algorithms to predict their customer’s preferences. (But hey, after seeing me binge watch every Showtime and PBS period drama on the service, it couldn’t have been that difficult.) I gave into the category’s charms and was immersed in the most frustrating and heartbreaking romance plot I’ve ever come across. The thing is, it’s more than just a romance–it’s a study on coping with guilt and the life-changing consequences that come from a single moment. In the movie, a nine-year-old playwright named Briony Tallis, witnesses (and greatly misinterprets) an intimate moment between her sister, Cecilia Tallis, and her lover, Robbie. A decision made on the basis of  fuzzy memories and a false witness account lands Robbie in prison, later forcing him to face a tumultuous future as a World War II soldier. Cecilia’s complex whirlwind of emotions and her journey into maturity is what makes this Oscar winning film particularly special–its so much more than a romance. NOTE: this film won it’s Oscar because of it’s soundtrack. I know what you’re thinking– just the soundtrack? Seriously? Not the acting or the script?— but it’s a spectacular soundtrack and on gloomy or otherwise melancholy days I walk the hallways humming “Love Letters” and “Denouement.”


3. The Borgias

This Showtime drama, spectacularly filmed, written and costumed, is the pinnacle of period drama luxury and likeable incestuous romance (incest? We love it!) While that last line might of been too much for you to stomach, this show is so screwed up that it definitely (almost) warms you up to it. The Borgias tells the story of the famous renaissance family whose reputation (according to the show) was steeped in political scandals, unholy acts and secretive scandals. The show mainly centers on Pope Alexander and his three children, Lucrezia, Cesare and Juan, as they claim their spots as some of Rome’s elite. This show was planned with four-season arc but was unfortunately cut one season short. Although the ending leaves much to be desired, there’s enough action, drama, costume eye-candy and historical insight to make the watch worthwhile. NOTE: Over these past two years, people have dubbed my blog an “incest blog.” I haven’t really done much to squash this misconception and actually find it quite amusing. However, Royal Tea has never–and will never–condone incest.