The Romanoffs: A Regally Brilliant Mess
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner returns to TV with a star-studded anthology series on Amazon. A creative ambition is visible, but there are several loopholes too. However, the show can manage to keep viewers hooked, as the show gears get to work to reach a well-refined level. As suggested by its title, The Romanoffs ostensibly follows the descendants of the Russian Royal family, whose murders turned them into chronicles. Every episode consists of an entirely different story and an entirely different cast, but what brews these abstract dots together is the one troubled bloodline.
People today have descended from finer people; yet have been forced to live amongst commoners. As a perfume to veil cultural rot, the stars of Romanoffs do not define themselves through their lineage. Instead, a guilt overwhelms them, more than a hunger for power and copper. In troubled times, they cosmetically console themselves by reminiscing their ancestral background. These are the people who believe they have a vein to rule the world, although their kingdom had fallen apart a century ago. The decline of whiteness, though not explicitly explored, is quite palpable through the stories.
When minds get engendered by a false sense of grandeur and opulence and ego and fragility take a toll, things conjure up to become unfavorable. And this is something, the narrative repeatedly points out.
The initial episode follows the harsh, shallowness of Anushka (Marthe Keller), who holds on to her enormous ancestral apartment, which is laden with mementos of the archive.
Anuskha’s nephew Greg is waiting for his aunt to desert the world for an heavenly abode, so he can inherit the prize she holds in her will for him. Anushka, on the other hand, isn’t too thrilled about passing her possessions to someone who cannot continue the lineage. Racism too is a de facto theme in this fable. Anushka shares an unpleasant relationship with her new caretaker, Hajar (Inès Melab), a young Muslim woman. Hajar is expected to absorb her remorseless watercourse of racist diatribe. Anushka calls her “a terrorist,” demands that she taste the food she serves her to prove it isn’t poisoned.
Weiners’s work is internally aware. A tangible sense of class consciousness is felt when a professor friend of Greg and Sophie’s laments how the middle class has disappeared from Paris, leaving only moneybags like Anushka and struggling poor people like Hajar. Strands are rhetorical, but the register honest tones.
Audaciously, the show tackles white mentality. White veterans hold warmth for other races, irrespective of how many they are. They have rooted firmly to their faint superiority, and fail to get an idea of how wrong they are. The generation that follows them does despise the idea, but the racial divide benefits them keeps them. If a social revolution overturns the racial constraints there will be no escape left but to adapt And this is something Weiner does not shy from as he puts down his final note in the episode. “The future is coming whether you like it or not” — but it mainly comes off as tone-deaf.”
Every dress, carefully provided by mastermind Janie Bryant (also of “Mad Men”) and Wendy Chuck, spontaneously and effectively narrates a strong trait for the characters. Weiner is still a genius, his direction makes good sense of the terrifying, emotional, preaching, and intimate scenes in the story. The roster of actors that the show amalgamates in every episode in spectacular, amazing, and drool-worthy. Too much creative liberty can be dangerous. DNA today does not characterize the wrong and rights, and for some reason, Weiner is not embracing of this fact. If performed under stricter narrative boundaries, The Romanoffs can be more expressive about what they are here to tell.