art, film, literature

The Romanoffs is Awesome


Amazon has a lot of money. I wish this was a paid advertisement for their newest series: The Romanoffs. But it’s not.

This is an honest review.

First off, it’s really good on every level. The acting, the originality of the writing, the filming, their thematic choices, the pacing, and the choice of a constant stream of appropriate music by Russian composers: Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and so on.

It’s what I hope TV becomes.

Now that standard prime time network shows are dead, people can do much more interesting things with the medium. The Romanoffs is an eight episode mini-series. Each episode is almost a full-length movie.

It’s great that they are all as long as they are supposed to be instead of the cramming/extending that happens in trying fit a 30 minute or 60 minute slot. It’s even better that there’s no filler episodes. What a waste of everyone’s time those are just because the writers didn’t have enough ideas to fill a whole season.

the romanaoffs review

Each episode is a character study of someone who believes they are a descendant of the Russian royal family. Many of the episodes go deep on a single moment, and they open up the psychology of a character regarding a life-altering choice.

Each episode is somehow a completely different genre, from romance to suspense to horror to mystery. It’s truly global taking place in Paris, Mexico City, Ohio, Russia, and other places.

The episodes don’t really tie together except for main characters of different episodes making cameos or minor roles.

It’s beautiful and moving and thought-provoking, drawing parallels to classic Russian literature in subtle and clever ways.

And people just don’t get it.

I’m filled with a visceral anger and dread when I look at the reviews people have left for the show. It reminds me that no matter how good a work of art one creates, there will be millions of people out there that try to tear it down publicly with one-star reviews.

People these days are used to their brain getting a dopamine hit every X seconds in the latest Marvel movie or a laugh every X seconds in The Big Bang Theory. I’m not even sure people can watch those things without pulling out their phones to check for their latest likes and play a round of Candy Crush while they’re at it.

Seriously.

Sometimes developing a character and a scene takes time. Sometimes a work of art isn’t exactly what you were expecting, and that’s good! Take it on it’s own terms.

But it’s not even about the Romanoffs. It’s so historically inaccurate.

How is this even a criticism for your one-star review? Watch the trailer. It’s clearly set in modern day. If you started this series thinking it would be a documentary, then that’s on you, not the creator.

How is this by the guy that made Mad Men?

Mad Men came out in 2007. Smart phones didn’t even exist back then. I think people would be surprised with the first season of that show if they tried to watch it for the first time now. It would be way too slow and boring for their tastes. It’s not Matthew Weiner that has changed. It’s society.

These people are also wrong about the pacing. At least five of the episodes are truly gripping from start to finish.

There should be a rule that before you leave a 1-star review of this series, you have to read Anna Karenina or The Brothers Karamazov. If it’s too slow and boring for you to finish some of the greatest literature ever written, why would we expect you to like something like The Romanoffs?

Obviously, I don’t believe that, but it would be good if some of these opinionated people tried this on their own. They might find out that they aren’t as knowledgeable as they think. They might find out their taste has been altered by addictive technology making them not the best judge of quality art.

Anyway, the show is great.

I’ve been purposefully vague about the plot, because so much of the series involves episodes being about something different than they seem. Spoiling any of this show would very much ruin the first viewing.

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