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Foul on the Court

While watching The Great, you may find yourself playing a mental round of I Spy—or maybe, in the spirit of a story about Russian royalty, a drinking game (in fact, The Great’s press materials include a handle of vodka, a deck of cards, and rules for … a drinking game). See how many similarities you can spot between Hulu’s new series about Catherine the Great and The Favourite, the 2018 Yorgos Lanthimos film following a psychosexual tug-of-war in the court of Queen Anne. There’s the big-picture parallel: Both are acid-tongued tales of 18th-century monarchs with a profane and present-day point of view. But there are also smaller, oddly specific echoes: servants who used to be nobles, vomit ejected into inappropriate vessels, animals running wild through the halls of a palace, the evocative term “cunt struck. ” Such points of overlap have an easily traceable source. The Great is created by Tony McNamara, the Australian writer who shares credit for The Favourite’s screenplay with Deborah Davis.

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