“Versailles” comes with a pedigree nearly as prestigious as the place whose story it tells: Shot partially in the notorious palace itself, it’s also the most expensive drama series ever produced in France.
Stateside, it’s been an instant hit for Ovation TV, fitting neatly into the niche — “very beautiful people behaving quite scandalously in lovely palaces” — left open when “Outlander” and “Game of Thrones” ended their seasons. But “Versailles” is more than just its pedigree, budget and art decoration: It’s also an ingenious concept for a show. You could describe it as “Game of Thrones” meets “The Real World” and “The Bachelor” — if with slightly more panniers and powdered wigs — as King Louis XIV (George Blagden) traps his courtiers indefinitely in an ornate palace to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real …
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Now three episodes into its debut season, we’ve come to identify the key players, each working a different connection to the handsome young king: In Louis’s corner, we find a slightly evil and occasionally cross-dressing brother, Philippe (Alexander Vlahos); his Betty-Draper-ish Queen Maria Theresa (Elisa Lasowski); his right-hand man Bontemps (Stuart Bowman); and his chief of police, the brutal Fabiel (Tygh Runyan). Actively working against the king — at least so far — are the devious tag-team of Montcourt (Anatole Taubman) and Cassel (Pip Torrens), who are blocking the nobles from attending court, and Louis’ jealousy of his brother’s storied battle prowess.
Meanwhile, playing a more murdery version of “The Bachelor” are show-pony Sophie (Maddison Jaizani) and her momager Beatrice (Amina Casar), Louis’s lover/sister-in-law Henrietta (Noémie Schmidt), and her newest rival: Our resident Margaery Tyrell, the gorgeous and ambitious Madame de Montespan (Anna Brewster).
Can’t wait to see what further scandals will strike the palace this weekend? Our friends at Ovation TV have provided Screener this exclusive clip from Saturday’s (Oct. 15) fourth episode. See how a well-timed swoon helps set Madame de Montespan in the king’s sights, hinting at some one-on-one time in the 17th-century Fantasy Suite.
Versailles airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Ovation TV.