The Great (TV series)

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The Great
The Great title card.png
Created byTony McNamara
Music byNathan Barr
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10
Executive producers
  • Nick O'Hagan (pilot only)
  • Dean O'Toole
Running time45-55 minutes
Production companies
  • Thruline Entertainment
  • Echo Lake Entertainment
  • Lewellen Pictures
  • Macgowan Films
  • Piggy Ate Roast Beef Productions
  • Civic Center Media
  • MRC
DistributorParamount Television Studios
Original networkHulu
Original releaseMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15) –
External links

The Great is a 2020 comedy-drama television series described by its commissioner Hulu as 'anti-historical'[1] loosely based on the rise to power of Catherine the Great, Empress of All Russia. All 10 episodes of the first season were released on Hulu on May 15, 2020.[2] The series stars Elle Fanning as Empress Catherine II and Nicholas Hoult as the Emperor Peter III.

In July 2020, Hulu renewed the series for a second season.[3]


The Great is a satirical, comedic drama about the rise of Catherine the Great from outsider to the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia's history. The series is fictionalized and portrays Catherine in her youth and marriage with Emperor Peter III (amalgamated with Peter II[4]) focusing on the plot to kill her depraved and dangerous husband.

Cast and characters[edit]



  • Danusia Samal as Lady Antonia Svenska
  • Louis Hynes as Vlad
  • Florence Keith-Roach as Tatyana
  • Jamie Demetriou as Doctor Chekov
  • Christophe Tek as Tartar Nick
  • Charlie Price as Ivan
  • Alistair Green as Count Smolny
  • Abraham Popoola as Alexei Rostov
  • James Smith as Count Gorky
  • Stewart Scudamore as Tolsten
  • Phill Webster as a palace guard
  • Adam Darlington as head footman
  • Dustin Demri-Burns as Voltaire
  • Christianne Oliveira as Countess Belanova


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"The Great"Matt ShakmanWritten for Television by : Tony McNamaraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
In the eighteenth century, a young and naïve Catherine gets married to the Peter III of Russia. Her ambitions and optimism shatter as she finds out about Peter's unserious, cruel and spiteful nature, and that he only married her for an heir. Catherine finds an unexpected friend in her maid, Marial. When Catherine discovers that women are not educated in Russia, she succeeds in securing funds with the permission of Peter to establish a school. But Peter burns the school as soon as he learns that the school was meant for girls. When Peter shoots the bear gifted to Catherine during a ball, she slaps him in front of everyone. Peter punches her in seclusion and warns her. Catherine, now being nothing more than a prisoner, decides to evade the castle with the help of Marial, but fails as Peter finds out. Disheartened, Catherine is about to slit her wrist when Marial informs her about a rule in Russia; if there is not an heir to an emperor, the throne will ultimately be given to the empress. Delighted, Catherine throws away the knife.
2"A Fake Beard"Colin BuckseyTony McNamaraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
As Catherine and Marial struggle to devise the murder of Peter, the latter suggests to use Orlo, a member of Peter's inner circle, by seducing him. Matters do not go as planned as Catherine fails to seduce Orlo and straightforwardly spills out her plan to him. When Peter apologises to Catherine for his prior behaviour, she declines. Meanwhile, Orlo endeavours in retaining the civilians' free will as Count Rostov is repulsive of having his beard shaved off in accordance with an edict. Catherine is being despised by the ladies at the court which, along with Catherine's lack of submission, enrages Peter who decides to kill her in a carriage accident. Archie warns her and she pretends to be affectionate and submissive to Peter, making him change his decision. She also learns about Peter's mother who was harsh towards him. As Catherine forces Orlo to cooperate with her for the sake of the country, he refuses but assures his confidence. When depraved Peter coerces Orlo to shave Rostov's beard, Orlo agrees to join forces with Catherine.
3"And You Sir, Are No Peter the Great"Bert & BertieTony McNamaraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Catherine and Orlo prepare manifestos for their new era when Peter brings a 'lover' for Catherine, Leo Voronsky, but she is reluctant to the notion. Orlo suspects Leo to be a spy for Peter, which Catherine declines to believe. Catherine asks Leo not to consummate and to pretend that they had a lovely night. The next day, Catherine assures Peter that she and Leo had a great night and he could let him go but Peter beats Leo up for not convincing her to keep him for long. Orlo and Marial suggest Catherine to leverage Ivan, Peter's half-brother, against him. Catherine succeeds in locating Ivan out with the help of Aunt Elizabeth, who is hidden in a secret room in the castle. Meanwhile, Peter is humiliated by his comrades for his lack of strategizing abilities. Catherine embarrasses Lady Svenska at ladies' tea in retaliation for hurting Marial, causing the ladies to turn on her. When Peter gives a speech about the remarkability of his father, he gets emotional when an officer mocks him. Encouraged by Catherine to bring forth his real emotions, he instead stabs the officer. Delighted, Peter allows Catherine to have a lover of her own choice, but Catherine, now taking an interest in Leo, lies to the latter that Peter did not let him go but she accepts him as her lover. As a result, she begins a passionate relationship with him.
4"Moscow Mule"Bert & BertieTess MorrisMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Catherine and Leo pursue their love affair. News breaks about the patriarch, Bishop Ivan Illyich, leader of the Russian Orthodox church has passed and Peter must choose a new one by the following day. Catherine, Marial, and Orlo continue to plan for their new era, aiming to appoint Bishop Tarcinkus as the new church leader. Catherine is made aware of the horse-relations rumour Lady Svenska started and tries to make amends for political purposes. During the bishop selection, one bishop renounces Peter and dies. Meanwhile, Catherine devises to gain the other ladies' admiration through gifting faberge eggs. Lady Svenska invites Catherine to a tea with the rest of the ladies in which they push, kick, and belittle her. Peter instructs Archie to receive a vision from God to decide on who the new bishop shall be. He consumes psychedelic mushrooms and Catherine stumbles upon him as he is hallucinating. He believes her to be an angel and she tells him that he is the rightful bishop. At the party to celebrate Archie's new title, Catherine and Marial stage a slapping as a lesson to the other ladies, as advised by Marial herself and Aunt Elizabeth.
5"War and Vomit"Ben ChessellJames WoodMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
6"Parachute"Ben ChessellTony McNamaraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Peter feels inspired to better himself after his brush with death. Elizabeth encourages Peter to sire an heir, leading him to seek out Catherine. They become more intimate, putting a strain on her relationship with Leo. Catherine uses Peter's newfound interest in her to encourage him to bring arts and sciences to Russia. Vlad teaches Peter about parachutes. Archie discourages Peter's pursuit of the arts and sciences and threatens Catherine, who retaliates. Orlo becomes lost in the woods and encounters soldiers. Archie puts a crow in Peter's room to scare him, angering Peter. Catherine asks Peter to reinstate Marial as a lady of the court and Peter refuses, revealing the reason of her demotion: her father committed necrophilia with Peter's mother's corpse. Catherine changes her plans for better Russia. Peter uses the parachute on a dog. Catherine celebrates this demonstration of science with hope for the future.
7"A Pox on Hope"Colin BuckseyTony McNamara and Gretel VellaMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
8"Meatballs at the Dacha"Colin BuckseyTeleplay by : Tony McNamara
Story by : Amelia Roper and Tony McNamara
May 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
9"Love Hurts"Geeta PatelTony McNamaraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
10"The Beaver's Nose"Geeta PatelTony McNamaraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)



The series is based upon Tony McNamara's play revolving around Catherine the Great, which premiered at the Sydney Theatre Company in 2008.[5] McNamara also wrote a film adaption of the play, "It had been a play and a film, and I was always struggling with the fact it was such a massive story for a film. I wanted to tell it as a story that goes for years and years."[6][7] The series was initially pitched as having six seasons, having planned to introduce key historical figures in Catherine's life as the series continued.[8]

On August 24, 2018, it was announced that Hulu was close to giving a pilot order to a miniseries about Catherine the Great. The series was written by Tony McNamara who also served as an executive producer alongside Elle Fanning and Marian Macgowan. Production companies involved with the pilot consist of Media Rights Capital, Echo Lake Entertainment, and Thruline Entertainment.[9] On November 20, 2018, it was reported that Matt Shakman was directing the pilot.[10] On February 11, 2019, it was announced during the Television Critics Association's annual winter press tour that Hulu had given the production a series order.[11]


Alongside the initial pilot announcement, it was confirmed that Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult had been cast in the pilot's lead roles as Catherine the Great and her husband Peter III of Russia, respectively. In November 2018, it was announced that Phoebe Fox, Sacha Dhawan, Charity Wakefield, and Gwilym Lee had joined the cast of the pilot.[10][12][13] In January 2020, Sebastian De Souza, Adam Godley, and Douglas Hodge were added to the cast.[14] On May 14, 2021, Gillian Anderson was cast in a guest starring role as Johanna, Catherine's mother.[15]


Principal photography for the pilot episode had commenced by November 2018 in York, England with other filming locations expected to include Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Hever in Kent. The main filming locations were Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire and the Royal Palace of Caserta in Italy.[12][16][17][18][19][20] The loggia on the lake at Hever Castle doubled as the location for a Russo-Swedish peace conference. The fields of the St Clere Estate near Sevenoaks in Kent were used to stage battle scenes in episodes five and seven.[21] Filming for season two began on November 4, 2020[22] and ended on July 17, 2021. [23]


The series premiered in the United States on May 15, 2020.[2] In Australia, all episodes were released on Stan on May 16. The series airs on Channel 4 and StarzPlay in the UK. StarzPlay also distribute the series in Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Benelux, Latin America and Brazil. broadcasts the show in Russia, Sky in New Zealand, and Amazon Prime Video in Canada.[24]

Historical accuracy[edit]

Hulu has described The Great as 'anti-historical' and the series' title sequences declare it to be an 'occasionally true story'.[1] According to Los Angeles Times critic Robert Lloyd, 'McNamara had jotted down some names, relationships and a few historical bullet points, torn up the paper, and started writing. And so must the viewer abandon himself to what's on the plate without a care to learning anything useful or even true about Russia or any of the real people represented here.'[25]


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds an approval rating of 88% based on 83 critic reviews, with an average critic rating of 7.51/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Great can't quite live up to its namesake, but delicious performances from Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult and a wicked sense of humor make it a pretty good watch."[26] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100 based on 30 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[27]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2020 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Matt Shakman (for "The Great") Nominated [28]
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Tony McNamara (for "The Great") Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding New Program The Great Nominated [29]
Individual Achievement in Comedy Elle Fanning Nominated
2021 American Society of Cinematographers Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Motion Picture, Miniseries or Pilot Made for Television Anette Haellmigk (for "The Great") Nominated [30]
Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Awards Best Comedy Series The Great Nominated [31]
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Make-Up & Hair Design Louise Coles, Sarah Nuth, Lorraine Glynn and Erin Ayanian Nominated [32]
Casting Society of America Television Pilot and First Season – Comedy Rose Wicksteed Won [33]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Comedy Series Nicholas Hoult Nominated [34]
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy The Great Nominated [35]
Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nicholas Hoult Nominated
Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy Elle Fanning Nominated
Gotham Independent Film Awards Breakthrough Series – Long Form Tony McNamara, Marian Macgowan, Mark Winemaker, Elle Fanning, Brittany Kahan Ward, Doug Mankoff, Andrew Spaulding, Josh Kesselman, Ron West and Matt Shakman Nominated [36]
Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Performance in a New Scripted Series Elle Fanning Nominated [37]
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Villain Nicholas Hoult Nominated [38]
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series Nominated [39]
Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series Elle Fanning Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Belinda Bromilow, Sebastian de Souza, Sacha Dhawan, Elle Fanning, Phoebe Fox, Bayo Gbadamosi, Adam Godley, Douglas Hodge, Nicholas Hoult, Louis Hynes, Florence Keith-Roach, Gwilym Lee, Danusia Samal and Charity Wakefield Nominated [40]
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series Nicholas Hoult Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Vanessa Alexander, Tony McNamara, Tess Morris, Amelia Roper, Gretel Vella and James Wood Nominated [41]
New Series Nominated
Episodic Comedy Tony McNamara (for "The Great") Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hulu's The Great Is Wrong on the Facts but Smart About History". Slate. May 15, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Hipes, Patrick (January 17, 2020). "Hulu Sets Premiere Dates For 'The Great', 'Ramy' And 'Solar Opposites' – TCA". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 17, 2020. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  3. ^ Porter, Rick (July 2, 2020). "'The Great' Renewed for Season 2 at Hulu". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Great - Trivia". IMDB. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  5. ^ McHenry, Jackson (May 15, 2020). "How The Great Very, Very Loosely Adapts Russian History". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on May 16, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  6. ^ Utichi, Joe (February 13, 2019). "How Tony McNamara's Hulu-Bound 'The Great' Landed Him 'The Favourite' And An Oscar Nomination". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 23, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  7. ^ Ryan, Patrick (May 15, 2020). "Hulu's 'The Great': Elle Fanning on playing Catherine the Great, severed heads and 'fully clothed sex'". USA Today. Archived from the original on May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  8. ^ O'Keefe, Meghan (May 15, 2020). "When Will 'The Great' Season 2 Premiere on Hulu?". Decider. Archived from the original on May 21, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  9. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 24, 2018). "Catherine the Great Drama Starring Elle Fanning & Nicholas Hoult Nears Hulu Pilot Order". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 7, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (November 20, 2018). "'The Aeronauts' & 'Curfew' Actress Phoebe Fox Joins Elle Fanning & Nicholas Hoult In Hulu's 'The Great'; Pilot Underway". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 20, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  11. ^ White, Peter (February 11, 2019). "Hulu Hands Out Series Orders To Femme Fatale Drama 'Reprisal' & Russian Period Romp 'The Great' – TCA". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 12, 2019. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (November 21, 2018). "'Iron Fist' Actor Sacha Dhawan And 'Bounty Hunters' Actress Charity Wakefield Join Hulu's 'The Great'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 21, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (November 27, 2018). "'Bohemian Rhapsody' Star Gwilym Lee Joins Hulu Pilot 'The Great'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 28, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  14. ^ Petski, Denise (February 4, 2020). "'The Great': Sebastian De Souza Joins Elle Fanning & Nicholas Hoult In Hulu Comedy Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 21, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  15. ^ Petski, Denise (May 14, 2021). "Gillian Anderson To Play Elle Fanning's Mother In Season 2 Of Hulu's 'The Great'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 14, 2021. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  16. ^ Thompson, Vicky (October 24, 2018). "Casting call for extras for Catherine the Great drama to be filmed in York". The Press. Archived from the original on November 7, 2018. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  17. ^ Steves, Ashley (October 19, 2018). "U.K. Now Casting: Gymnasts and Acrobats Wanted for Touring Stage Show 'Marvel Universe LIVE!' + 3 More Gigs". Backstage. Archived from the original on January 23, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  18. ^ Verney, Joseph (October 23, 2018). "Another movie star-studded drama to be filmed in Lincolnshir". Lincolnshire Reporter. Archived from the original on February 21, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  19. ^ Cook, Laurence (November 1, 2018). "UK Casting: Audition for Catherine the Great Starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult". Backstage. Archived from the original on January 23, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  20. ^ "Una Reggia da zar per le riprese della serie su Caterina la Grande". Archived from the original on February 16, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  21. ^ "- Kent Film Office".
  22. ^ "The Great (Season 2)". Production List | Film & Television Industry Alliance. October 12, 2020.
  23. ^ "The Great (Season 2)". via Elle Fanning. July 19, 2021.
  24. ^ Kanter, Jake (February 26, 2020). "'The Great': Hulu's Elle Fanning & Nicholas Hoult Comedy Lands At Starzplay, Channel 4". Deadline. Archived from the original on June 7, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  25. ^ Lloyd, Robert (May 14, 2020). "Hulu's 'The Great' tears up the history books. It's not Shakespeare, but it works". Los Angeles Times.
  26. ^ "The Great: Season 1 (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  27. ^ "The Great: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  28. ^ Konerman, Jennifer; Lewis, Hilary; Nordyke, Kimberly (July 28, 2020). "Emmy Awards: Nominations List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  29. ^ "2020 TCA Award Nominations". Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  30. ^ Tapp, Tom (2021-04-18). "ASC Awards: 'Mank,' 'The Crown,' 'The Mandalorian' Take Top Honors – Full Winners List". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  31. ^ Vlessing, Etan (March 6, 2021). "AACTA International Awards: 'Promising Young Woman' Wins Top Prize". The Hollywood Reporter.
  32. ^ "BAFTA TV 2021: Nominations for the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards and British Academy Television Craft Awards". BAFTA. 28 April 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  33. ^ Lewis, Hillary (January 8, 2021). "Artios Awards: Casting Directors for 'The Boys,' 'Pose,' 'Watchmen' Among TV Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  34. ^ Schneider, Michael (January 18, 2021). "'Ozark,' 'The Crown' and Netflix Lead 26th Annual Critics' Choice Awards TV Nominations". Variety. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  35. ^ Oganesyan & Moreau, Natalie & Jordan (February 3, 2021). "Golden Globes 2021: The Complete Nominations List". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  36. ^ "Gotham Awards 2020". Gotham Awards. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  37. ^ Lewis, Hilary (January 26, 2021). "Film Independent Spirit Awards: 'Never Rarely Sometimes Always,' 'Minari,' 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,' 'Nomadland' Top Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  38. ^ Del Rosario, Alexandra (2021-04-19). "MTV Movie & TV Awards Nominations: 'Emily In Paris', 'WandaVision' & 'RuPaul's Drag Race'". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  39. ^ Van Blaricom, Mirjana (February 1, 2021). "25th Satellite Awards Nominees for Motion Pictures and Television Announced". International Press Academy. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  40. ^ France, Lisa Respers (February 4, 2021). "SAG Award 2021: See the full list of nominees". CNN. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  41. ^ Bui, Hoai-Tran (February 3, 2021). "'Better Call Saul', 'Ted Lasso', and 'The Great' Lead 2021 WGA Nominations". SlashFilm. Retrieved February 4, 2021.

External links[edit]