March 24, 2024

Almost There (and What a Ride!)

Yeah, I know. Still on a Young Royals kick, and I can see why the show's so addicting. The writing, for one, is really well done. What I said about "accident of birth" previously? That. That, that, that, and as much as I sometimes want to just reach though the computer screen and slap a few people around, I can't -- because as much as it frustrates me as a viewer, I get it. 

August? Brilliantly written antagonist. Brilliantly written. The kid's broken, and he's behaving as someone who's desperate to fit in, desperate to be like his cousin (or ride his coattails at least), desperate to hold on to that veneer of aristocracy when he's really coming from a place of trauma and shame. Dad committed suicide? Family broke? I can't reference other things that were revealed in future seasons (spoilers for me), but I get it. I actually pity the guy and hate what he does / how he reacts from a place of anger, but I get it. It doesn't help that he's still in high school and behaves as a teenager would behave under those circumstances, that still-developing lizard brain dancing a psychotic jig whenever he sees how Willhelm gets what he wants because he's the crown prince while August, the one who fights tooth and nail for the crown and the status quo, keeps fucking things up. 

The series doesn't even need to wallow in an exploration of his eating disorder (possibly bulimia). Fanatical workouts, constant testing of his body fat, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's either vomiting his food off-screen and in private. All the writers need to do is work in a quick moment of his workout or his belly-pinching, and that's enough to tell us what's happening. 

The same can be said about Simon and how he stumbles around, trying to win August's favor in the worst possible way in spite of the humiliation August and his clique constantly subject him to (EDIT: he does it for Sara's benefit, which took me a looong while to get even though it's been established more than once). And he's coming from a poorer family compared to the resident students and is a POC to boot plunked in the midst of a mostly lily-white student population. Of course, he'd want to fit in as well, lashing out in his own way against the status quo and mocking the crown while doing stuff for August's benefit just to be accepted. It's such a teenage thing to do, behaving in ways that don't make sense, and I get it. His sister (older sister?) Sara has her own struggles in fitting in with the added complication of her autism, but unlike Simon, she at least has someone like Felice to help her. 

Felice is my darling girl, and while there's not much to her in season one other than the pressure from her mom to be St. Lucia (see: dress that's too small for her body type + her admission of not wanting the role to begin with), I'm really looking forward to seeing her character develop in season 2. 

Wille's following the trajectory I expect given his role as crown prince, and there's of course the dubious bonus of being a teenager who's still finding himself. Lots of mistakes, lots of "Oh, Christ, you didn't!" (man, I hated what they did to Alexander), but again: accident of birth. With no real support from his own family following the traumatic loss of his hero and older brother. The kid's not even allowed to grieve, for fuck's sake, and as of this morning (in terms of my viewing progress), he's got a sex tape to deal with (another one of those "Oh, shit -- you done fucked up big time, August!"). 

Yeah, I ended with Episode 5 of Season 1. Episode 6 is on standby. 

As for my take on other things besides the writing, I have to say the camera work is exquisite. There's a certain delicacy to it, an intimacy in the way the close-ups are handled, and even scenes involving groups of people are done in a way that feels very private. Moreover, I take my hat off to the production team for not glossing over features the way a lot of American productions do when filming younger characters, especially teenagers. 

There's no attempt to hide imperfections in the skin under ten pounds of makeup: scars, pimples, the usual skin-related issues young people deal with a lot -- I love it. There's a rawness and vulnerability to the images, which adds to the intimacy of the shots, and those are miles above what I'm used to seeing in American shows. The CW this ain't, and, boy, am I grateful for it (for the record, I abhor the CW). It really is good to check out entertainment outside the more established and mainstream Hollywood productions because so many gems are left undiscovered. 

I've already seen that quality of being refreshingly different in the shows I've been raving about (1670 from Poland being at the top of my list so far), and I'm now stoked -- really stoked -- to dig around for more. 

EDIT: Season One done. On to Season Two. 

EDIT (3/25/24): Season Two done. Holy shit. On to Season Three. I need a breather.

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