Airing on Starz, The Serpent Queen historical drama follows the life of the infamous Catherine de Medici and focuses on the circumstances that led to her earning the title of Queen of the Serpent. The show follows a treacherous game that took place at the French court in the 16th century and illustrates how one bad move can lead to a person’s downfall. This applies to the aristocracy as well as to the common people. Much like Catherine, the people close to her try to use her position to improve their own lives. Aabis is one of the people in question. Aabis was first someone Catherine felt she could rely on, but she quickly became someone Catherine disliked and became a jealous object of Catherine’s. That makes it harder for everyone. Given the dynamics of their connection, one might wonder whether or not someone like Aabis actually lived at the same time as Catherine de Medici. Is it based on a specific historical figure? let’s find out
Is there a basis in reality for the character of Aabis?
When Catherine de Medici traveled to France, she was accompanied by a sizeable party of courtiers and attendants. Everyone from servants to perfumers, painters to barbers, courtiers to dressmakers and so on has been included in this category. The decision to focus only on Catherine’s inner circle and avoid the unnecessary conglomeration of characters in The Serpent Queen meant that only a very limited number of people accompanying her were cast in the film. This was a creative choice. The fact that Catherine chose to tell her story with Aabis and not with any of the other people who had traveled with her in real life might lead one to think that Aabis plays a significant role in the narrative, but that is not the case. Although the drama includes characters based on real people like Cosimo Ruggeri, Aabis is not one of them. Since no historical account of Catherine’s life mentions a person named Aabis, this indicates that the character of Aabis was invented solely for the purposes of the production.
The struggle for existence is the overarching theme of The Serpent Queen. Although Catherine is the protagonist of the story, everyone else is driven by the ambition to assert their position in court and save their own lives as the drama unfolds. Aabis is driven by the same urges as everyone else. Her Ottoman heritage and the fact that she is a Christian convert in a nation itself in the midst of religious upheaval places her in the position of an outsider in that society. Despite being under Catherine’s protection, the two have a strained relationship, and the main reason is that Aabis is more attractive than Catherine. The totality of circumstances is incredibly challenging for her, but she is a fighter and will triumph no matter what comes her way.
Amrita Acharia, who played the role of Aabis in The Serpent Queen, said that the character is “very fluid” in terms of both her loyalty and her sexuality while discussing her role in the film. Aabis’ actions, much like everyone else in the program, are “very much grounded in a quest to acquire something,” whether it’s an emotional need or a very political move. This is especially true for the women on the show. It’s not just there to entertain your viewers or the men around the story; It’s actually a very powerful move that you can choose to make or not to make.” I think it places sex as a pawn in the game where it’s not just for the entertainment of your viewers or the entertainment of the men around you story is there.
Aabis is smart enough to use her attractiveness as an advantage, but this ability has the unintended consequence of straining her friendship with Catherine. “Due to their place in the pecking order of the narrative and the events that happened in the past, there will undoubtedly always be some kind of gap between them. Amrita explained that the only thing these people can trust is the possibility that someone could betray them. Aabis, the show’s main character, could be based on a specific real person; However, the show’s writers have portrayed her in a fairly realistic way that fits the character of a person trying to do their best to survive in these times. With all of this in mind, it’s clear that while Aabis is based on a specific real-life person, the show’s writers portrayed her.
Catherine de’ Medici is the protagonist of this book. She is an orphan who marries into the French court as a teenager, expecting to bring in a fortune in dowry and create heirs, but instead she learns that her husband is in love with an elderly woman who cannot bear children. She manages to maintain her marriage while at the same time governing France for a period of thirty years.
cast and characters
- Samantha Morton as Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France
- Liv Hill as young Catherine
- Amrita Acharia as Aabis, a Christian convert who is part of Catherine’s entourage
- Barry Atsma as Montmorency, a member of King Francis’ Privy Council
- Enzo Cilenti as Cosimo Ruggeri, an Italian fortune teller
- Sennia Nanua as Rahima, a maid
- Kiruna Staull as Mathilde, Catherine’s dwarf girl
- Nicholas Burns as Antoine de Bourbon
- Danny Kirrane as Louis de Bourbon
- Beth Goddard as Antoinette de Guise
- Antonia Clarke as Mary, Queen of Scots
- George Jacques as Francis II
- Ludivine Sagnier as Diane de Poitiers
- Paul Chahidi as Charles de Bourbon, another member of the Privy Council
- Navid Negahban as Claude, Duke of Guise, the third member of the Privy Council
- Alex Heath as Young Henri, second son of King Francis who marries Catherine
- Ruby Bentall as Angelica, daughter of a famous perfumer
- Louis Landau as Dauphin Francis, the firstborn son of King Francis
- Naomi Battrick as Anne d’Etampes, mistress of King Francis
- Colm Meaney as King Francis
- Charles Dance as Pope Clement VII
- Adam Garcia as Sebastio, Catherine’s studio
- Rebecca Gethings as Queen Eleanor
- Memet Ali Alabora as Sultan Suleiman
- Raza Jaffrey as François de Guise, Claude’s son
- Ray Panthaki as Charles de Guise, son of Francois
Samantha Morton plays the role of Catherine de’ Medici, a French queen who reigned in the 16th century and is the subject of the American television series The Serpent Queen, a historical drama set during this time. It was conceived by Justin Haythe and was inspired by Leonie Frieda’s 2004 non-fiction book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France. On September 11, 2022, the first episode of the series aired on Starz.
In February 2021, Starz greenlit an eight-episode series based on the book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France, written by Leonie Frieda. Justin Haythe would serve as both writer and executive producer of the show, and Francis Lawrence and Erwin Stoff would also serve in those roles. Stacie Passon will direct various episodes of the series over the course of the series, including the pilot. The television production companies set to participate in the series were Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment.
Samantha Morton made her debut as Catherine de’ Medici in April 2021 after being cast in the role.
Amrita Acharia, Enzo Cilenti, Barry Atsma, Nicholas Burns and Danny Kirrane joined the May 2021 cast in lead roles. Charles Dance, Ludivine Sagnier, Liv Hill, Kiruna Stamell and Colm Meaney were added to the cast in recurring roles around the same time. Ray Panthaki made his debut in a series regular role in June 2021. In August 2021, it was announced that Raza Jaffrey, Sennia Nanua, Beth Goddard, and Alex Heath had joined the cast of the series in undisclosed roles, lead roles, and recurring roles, respectively.
April 2021 marked the start of filming.
On September 11, 2022, Starz aired the first episode of The Serpent Queen.
On the Rotten Tomatoes website, which aggregates reviews from many sources, all 11 of these critics gave the film positive reviews, with an average rating of 7.9 out of 10. The general opinion expressed on the site is summarized as follows: “The Serpent ‘Queen’ dramatizes one of history’s most notorious queens with a subtle, satirical touch, while Samantha Morton’s towering star is sure to capture viewers’ attention.” The Metacritic website, which uses a weighted average to determine the score , gave it a score of 78 out of a possible 100, indicating it had “generally positive reviews”.