The Great: Season 1 (2020)

SEASON:

Season 1
The Great

Critics Consensus

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.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 77

84%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 345

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Episodes

Air date: May 15, 2020

Catherine, Orlo and Marial continue their coup planning. They try to recruit an unhappy military general, Velementov, for their cause during palace celebrations honoring Peter's late father, Peter the Great. Peter, noting Catherine's unhappiness at court, gifts Catherine a sterile lover, Leo. She's hesitant at first, but Leo manages to charm her.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

Catherine takes her first steps toward a coup. Taking advice from Marial, she attempts to seduce and recruit palace intellectual Count Orlo. It's a disaster. However, after seeing Peter's brutal treatment of local nobles and unwillingness to listen, he decides to join Catherine's coup.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

Catherine, Orlo and Marial continue their coup planning. They try to recruit an unhappy military general, Velementov, for their cause during palace celebrations honoring Peter's late father, Peter the Great. Peter, noting Catherine's unhappiness at court, gifts Catherine a sterile lover, Leo. She's hesitant at first, but Leo manages to charm her.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

Catherine tries to manage her reputation at court and her relationship with Leo, both of which distract her from the coup. Meanwhile, the influential Patriarch of the church dies, and a new one must be chosen. Orlo sees an opportunity to try and influence Peter in the decision, and Archie makes moves.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

As the war with Sweden continues to rage, Catherine and Aunt Elizabeth visit the military at the Russian front. Seeing the soldiers reminds Catherine of her goal to rule Russia differently. Grigor struggles with Peter and Georgina's relationship and poisons Peter to end it. When Peter falls ill, Velementov, Orlo, and Marial all try to influence Catherine's steps toward takeover as Peter's life hangs in the balance.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

Peter has a new lease on life after his near-death experience. He is open to Catherine's progressive ideas of introducing art and science to court and wants to focus on an heir. Orlo tries to figure out who poisoned Peter and faces demons of his own.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

Catherine feels optimistic about peaceful coexistence with Peter and their increasing chemistry. When smallpox breaks out in the servant's quarters, however, Peter reverts to his old ways. Meanwhile, Leo and Catherine's relationship suffers and Georgina misses Peter.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

Catherine's political abilities are tested when she's given an opportunity to travel abroad with Peter and Velementov to discuss ending the war with Swedish king. Velementov finally sees the potential of her leadership and decides to support the coup. Back at the palace, Leo wants to leave court. Marial tries to keep him there by telling him about the coup.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

Tensions mount as Catherine, Orlo, Velementov, Leo, and Marial try to get regional counts on board with the coup. A few of the men end up killed. When a body is discovered later, Peter decides to torture everyone at the palace to find the murderous traitors. Marial buckles under the pressure and confides in Archie about Catherine's plans. Catherine realizes she is pregnant.

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Air date: May 15, 2020

Catherine's decides to move forward with the coup on her birthday. Peter isn't so easily overcome and holds Leo hostage as collateral. In exchange for a return to her status, Marial betrays Catherine to Peter and tells him that she is pregnant. Catherine realizes that the only chance for a greater Russia is to fight, without Leo. The battle begins.

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Tv Season Info

News & Interviews for The Great: Season 1

Critic Reviews for The Great Season 1

All Critics (77) | Top Critics (26)

McNamara -- along with Fanning and Hoult, whose fine-tuned performances turn Peter and Catherine's contentious relationship into a complex frenemy-ship -- focuses on how power, and the comfort that comes with it, can corrupt them both.

May 21, 2020 | Full Review…

Reality is rarely as funny as this sparkling period satire, set in mid-18th century Russia amid a sneaky coup d'état that plays out like a Scooby gang caper (with wigs).

May 14, 2020 | Full Review…

As with McNamara's justly celebrated screenplay for The Favourite, it's the emotional honesty of The Great that allows the comedy to land so viciously.

May 13, 2020 | Full Review…

"The Great" doesn't exactly live up to the title. Fanning and crew work wonders, but it's unclear who this series is aimed at.

May 11, 2020 | Rating: C- | Full Review…

"The Great" is an engaging historical satire that resonates thanks to its vision of courtly debauchery and the tremendous acting by Fanning, Hoult and the rest of the cast.

May 15, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The most pleasant surprise here is Fanning, a skilled dramatic actor who hasn't had many chances to show her comedy chops over the course of her career.

May 15, 2020 | Full Review…
NPR
Top Critic

There must be limits as to the degree of humiliation Peter's retainers will tolerate, but each episode only seems to unleash new refinements.

Jul 31, 2020 | Full Review…

Historically bonkers, but so witty it will make your brain melt.

May 22, 2020 | Full Review…

Takes the risk of becoming tiresome at times, cut this down by a couple of episodes and we're on to a bonafide Faberge egg of a winner.

Jul 8, 2020 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

What's a minor flaw among so much that is glorious? I only wish there could be a ten more great seasons of The Great, which thus far isn't even confirmed for a second season.

Jun 23, 2020 | Full Review…

Despite the modern twist, however, this wasn't history dumbed down - it was too vicious, too interested in cracking jokes about Descartes for that. Not panto horseplay, then, more a satirical cartoon come to bulbous, bulging life.

Jun 23, 2020 | Full Review…

This is a show that you will want to binge, but we firmly recommend that you don't; it's strong stuff in places and we advise that you take your time and enjoy it.

Jun 23, 2020 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Great: Season 1

  • Sep 23, 2020
    I cannot believe the level of offense in this show — to Russia, to the viewer(who happens to know even a little bit of history) No wittiness, no actual worth. I'm totally disgusted.
  • Sep 13, 2020
    I really enjoyed this show, I binge watched it while on quarantine. It's funny and has beautiful imagery. If you're looking for a historically accurate show this isn't it. They do point that out though at the beginning of each episode.
  • Sep 04, 2020
    The reason I watch this is Nico is HOT, the clothes is pretty, it's good for time wasting. Looking beautiful things.
  • Aug 14, 2020
    Peter's antics got old pretty quick and the show seemed to drag on. The ending is pretty good but it seems like it will be difficult to write a season to that can make sense of what happened
  • Aug 13, 2020
    I love period shows - this was both a period (not entirely accurate) and comedy. I found it very entertaining and will be anxious for Season 2.
  • Aug 12, 2020
    At first I thought I wouldn't like it because of how raunchy it started out, but give it a chance! It is humorous and intriguing and the perfect show to binge watch.
  • Jul 27, 2020
    Cute at first; its stupidity grew wearing by the third or fourth episode.
  • Jul 22, 2020
    The only reason I came here to write a review about this show is because I can see SO much potential in it, yet for me it misses the mark in a couple ways. The entire breath of this show is Nicholas Hoult's character/performance. He carries the show. I find Elle Fanning's character sometimes insufferable. I find some of her choices unbearable. Later in the season she gets better about some of this but for a few episodes, watching this show is absolute torture. She speaks of a coup and being super motivated for change and yet all she can do is make-out with some random guy instead of moving the plot along? It just feels icky and stupid and vapid and unbelievable. To me, she and her lover Leo have almost no chemistry. Leo is not at all memorable or charming. The writers lean into emotional situations about the two of them without having hooked me emotionally and therefore the things are just annoying, grating, not emotionally moving. Without Nicholaus as Peter, I definitely wouldn't watch another episode. Those are my complaints. But my praises? I love all the rest of the guest characters (except Orlo. I find him as annoying as Catherine sometimes.) They are all lively and interesting. Marial, Archie, Aunt Elizabeth, General Velementov, and lots of other characters are interesting and refreshing. I also really like some of the writing, the scenarios and stories. They're good. The cinematography is top notch. The colors, costumes and set designs are incredible. I have very high hopes for season 2. I hope for an assertive and intelligent Catherine, not some idiot. Based on the other scores it seems people don't necessarily share my thoughts on this tv show. So take it with a grain of salt. You may not feel the way I do.
  • Jul 20, 2020
    Starts off with a bang, and what splendid performances. Sharp and witty. But by about episode 6 of the 10 episodes, we're running out of story and treading water with lots -- lots -- of literal screwing around.
  • Jul 18, 2020
    Brilliant! Absolutely delightful.

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