Why I love bad historical dramas, Part 2

I mentioned earlier that despite the “accuracy question,” I really don’t have a problem watching “bad” history shows like Reign. In their case, they were honest from the start that they were “deviating from history” and telling what they considered to be “historical fantasy.” Having accepted that fact, I just settled back and enjoyed it for what it was, a historical fantasy that did make me cringe from time to time. On the plus side, it was pretty.

The costume designer made no bones about the fact that she wasn’t going for historical accuracy in costumes. I can’t blame her there, because there’s just no way to win when it comes to costuming in period pieces. Then there’s Monsieur Dumas, who I’ve had a longstanding problem with.

My biggest problem with Dumas is the fact that since the Nineteenth Century, readers and viewers have accepting his stories as historically accurate. What we “know” about Margot Valois and Anne of Austria come, unfortunately, from his highly fictional books.

So when the BBC announced a new production of the Three Musketeers, titled Musketeers, I know going in that the history was going to be bad, very bad.

Anne of course has the best costumes in the show. Once again, the costume designers didn’t bother to go with historical accuracy. The resulting costumes can range from innovative to downright wacky.

If I were a costume historian or a costumer, that might drive me crazy again, but I’m okay with a very fictional work using costumes “inspired by” the Seventeenth Century. For reference, these are examples of the actual fashions popular during Anne’s tenure as Queen Consort and Regent of France.


And some actual portraits of Anne of Austria:

Portraits during Anne’s tenure as Queen Consort and Regent.

Dorothy Cary, later Viscountess Rochford, 1614–8, William Larkin. Kenwood House

Queen Henrietta Maria with Sir Jeffrey Hudson by Anthony van Dyck, 1633.
Detail of Duet by Frans van Mieris sr. (1658)