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My Lady Jane

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Reviewer

Lauren Cook

TV Series Review

If you paid attention in your high school history class, you might know about Lady Jane Grey, who in the mid-16th century was Queen of England for around nine days before being overthrown by her cousin Mary (you know, the bloody one). At only 16 or 17 years old, Jane was executed for treason, making her the shortest-reigning monarch in British history.

But, as the narrator of My Lady Jane proposes: “What if history were different?”

In this reimagining, Jane Grey is a fierce, independent young woman determined to lead life on her own terms. Step one on her quest for freedom: Finding a way out of her arranged marriage to Lord Guilford Dudley—the irritating, stuck-up, arrogant, infuriatingly handsome Lord Guilford Dudley.

Oh, and there’s also a race of animal shapeshifters called “Ethians” being rounded up and persecuted by the Crown. That’s a bit of rewritten history, too. What’s a free-spirited future queen to do?

IT’S NOT EASY BEING QUEEN

Unless you’ve spent significant time under a rock recently, you’ve probably heard about Bridgerton, Netflix’s steamy reimagining of the Regency era. It’s hard not to see My Lady Jane as Prime Video’s answer to Bridgerton’s smashing success.

This historical retelling (“historical,” here, should be taken with a very heavy amount of salt), based on the novel of the same name, blends modern pop songs and a snarky narrator with romantic tension and court intrigue. And … it’s also a fantasy? There is an underground network of shapeshifters running around, after all.

The most significant similarity to Bridgerton, however, is its emphasis on casual sexuality.

Jane and her handmaidens talk freely about their sexual encounters, some of which we’re shown onscreen. When Jane meets Guilford, the narrator is sure to underline the difference between “love at first sight” and “lust at first sight.” Crude, explicit dialogue and references to homosexuality don’t exactly help matters.

Jane Grey is a controversial figure in British history, known as everything from a traitor to an innocent young woman caught in the schemes of powerful men. But if you’re looking for a dive into the personal life of the tragic monarch, My Lady Jane is not the place to turn. If you’re looking for lush period set pieces, sweeping romance and edge-of-your-seat court drama … well, it’s probably not for you, either. Rife with sexuality, language, and in-your-face irreverence, My Lady Jane doesn’t seem equipped to do much but fuel the raging flames of Bridgerton-mania—which, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, is a fire best put out.

(Editor’s Note: Plugged In is rarely able to watch every episode of a given series for review. As such, there’s always a chance that you might see a problem that we didn’t. If you notice content that you feel should be included in our review, send us an email at [email protected], or contact us via Facebook or Instagram, and be sure to let us know the episode number, title and season so that we can check it out.)

Episode Reviews

June 27, 2024 – S1, E1: “Who’ll Be The Next In Line?”

Faced with an arranged marriage to an arrogant young lord, Lady Jane Grey attempts to escape and live a life of freedom. Meanwhile, her sickly cousin King Edward VI is pressured to decide on a successor, presented with a choice between Jane and his treacherous half-sister Mary.

Jane is passionate about herbs and remedies, which we learn as we see her apply a healing salve under her handmaiden’s skirts. No nudity is shown, but the shot is composed as if the camera is placed between the handmaiden’s legs. Crude references are made to sex (the handmaiden asks if she’s “set for shagging”).

Other graphic references to male and female genitalia continue throughout the episode. Susannah, another of Jane’s handmaidens, passionately kisses a stable boy and lets him put his head under her dress, though Jane interrupts. When Jane first sees Guilford, the narrator refers to her instant attraction as “lust at first sight.” An Ethian woman (one who can turn into an animal at will) transforms from a dog into a human in front of King Edward and is completely naked; we only see her bare back from behind. The narrator says that this encounter causes Edward to realize that he’s not romantically interested in women, and until that moment, he had assumed all women looked like men beneath their clothes. A drunk tavern patron tells Guilford to “go shag a beast.”

Folklore states that the Ethians were sent by Satan to destroy the human way of life; one soldier calls them “Satan’s spawn.” The narrator uses the phrase “not today, Satan” and says that “the only people who can perform miracles are saints.” The opening of the episode, a cartoonish recap of historical events, describes the “divine right of kings,” a European doctrine that claimed monarchs were chosen by God and subject only to his rule. God is depicted through a reference to the famous painting God the Father by Cima da Conegliano.

Jane complains that Guilford “drinks, gambles and cavorts with women of ill repute.” Patrons at a tavern drink heavily. Jane drinks from a glass of wine as she prepares for her wedding.

The f-word is used eight times, while the s-word is used six. “A–“, “b–ch” and “p-ss” are each used once (the b-word is used by Jane towards her mother).

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Lauren Cook Bio Pic
Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.

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