Hulu wants you to forget everything you learned about Catherine the Great and Peter III in history class. Its new series The Great follows the far-from-perfect union between the Russian rulers as they spar for power in the mid-18th century. Catherine the Great would ultimately become Russia’s longest-reigning female leader, but before she assumes the throne, she must withstand a husband who doesn’t know the meaning of touché and society that considers her voiceless. “Russia must be saved—and I with it,” Catherine says in the show’s latest trailer.
Below, everything we know about the 10-episode rescue mission.
What is The Great about?
Set in Russia (“a long time ago”) and based on historical facts (“sort of”), the series takes a satirical look at the fraught marriage between Catherine the Great and Peter III.
An official description of the series reads:
A fictionalized, fun, and anachronistic story of an idealistic, romantic young girl, who arrives in Russia for an arranged marriage to the mercurial Emperor Peter. Hoping for love and sunshine, she finds instead a dangerous, depraved, backward world that she resolves to change. All she has to do is kill her husband, beat the church, baffle the military, and get the court onside. A very modern story about the past which encompasses the many roles she played over her lifetime as lover, teacher, ruler, friend, and fighter.
Is there a trailer?
In March, a teaser trailer alluded to the farcical vibe of the show and introduced us to the royals, played by Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult.
The latest sneak peek dives deeper into the lopsided dynamic between Peter and Catherine. When she tells her new husband she’d “like to be useful to Russia, to help its greatness,” he responds by telling her, “You will bear my heirs. There is no higher use.”
Catherine yearns for power, but is instead handed fertility-enhancing sticks and search by committee for a lover to pass the time with. But different opinions on Catherine’s duties are just the beginning of their marital issues. The trailer even hints at a murder plot between the spouses: “We shall discuss whether I aught to kill the empress. She is a strange creature who I sense is, at times, laughing at me,” Peter informs his courtiers. Around the same time, the empress is informed that if her husband were to pass away, she would gain ownership of Russia.
Who is involved?
The tone of the show reads like a relative of 2018’s off-kilter historical drama The Favourite—that’s because the Oscar-nominated screenwriter behind the film, Tony McNamara, created, wrote, and executive produced The Great. Another star from that film, Hoult, will lead the series with Fanning.
The comedy co-stars Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge, Sacha Dhawan, Sebastian de Souza, Bayo Gbadamosi, and Belinda Bromilow.
When does The Great premiere?
All 10 episodes of the revisionist series drop May 15 on Hulu.