tw: mentions of oppression, stoning, su*cide, and forced labor.
From lesbian period dramas, or the odd transmedicalist, slightly transphobic period drama, to biopics about men that did SOMETHING in the past and happened to be gay, we can see a pattern of how queer people are presented in historical fiction: sad & yearning.
Which, to some extent, is true. The past, has had a very convoluted relationship with what we now know as queer identities or identities that deviate from the norm (in part because of colonization, but that’s another story), however that doesn’t mean that queer joy did not exist before the 21th century.
It is not secret that Hollywood favors queer pain over queer happiness, going so far as to re-write real life events: The Children’s Hour (1961), in which a girl makes allegations against her teachers of “homosexual activity” leaving the teachers to make a lawsuit of slander. In the movie the two teachers lose the case, and even one of them kills herself, whereas in the real-life case the movie is based on, the two teachers win their suit and no-one dies, although it did severely damage their reputation.
From Jane Austen’s Emma using the upper class regency dating conventions to craft the rom-com to Taika Waiti’s JoJo Rabbit (the script off of the novel) using the unconventional setting of WW2 Germany to create a satirical coming-of-age comedy, history has proved to be a sand-box for comedians.
Every act that the homo sapiens sapiens since they learnt how to write has been a convoluted mess - well, probably not all the time- while paying attention to history class I can’t help but ask the humans in the past “What were you thinking?”
I think there is a beauty, joy, -most likely just a sliver-lining- in the ironic craziness that is our past. Therefore I present to you 3 prompts for a next set of comedies that would not use the internet, or gen z, as a punch line.
A very common trope in historical fiction is to have real people feature as characters in your fictional works, either as cameos, side characters or protagonists. The accuracy of the depictions in these works is on a wide spectrum of historical accuracy. On one side you have those who remain incredibly faithful to the accounts of what these people were like, while other authors delve fully into the realm of fictionalization.
As a society we have always had a fascination with the filthy rich that only gets amplified with queens, kings and the novelty class.
Who didn’t grow up wanting to be called ‘your majesty’?
Therefore it is not unusual that a fair share of our period dramas focused around the crown, and the fact that they were more likely to receive the education to go down in history than their working class counterparts.
Viewers also favor stories about royals because for us period dramas are about escapism and stunning outfits however, we do not consume media solely for its escapist qualities and the same goes for dramas set in the past.