• Network: HULU
  • Series Premiere Date: May 15, 2020
Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25

Where To Watch

Stream On

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Allison Keene
    May 1, 2020
    98
    It’s strange and wonderful and a fantastically funny ride. But it will also leave you pondering the nature of sacrifice and real change, and the courage it takes to overthrow a despot. Huzzah.
  2. Reviewed by: Terry Terrones
    May 20, 2020
    91
    Complex characters, witty dialogue, a precarious play for power and just the right touches of humor make for riveting television.
  3. Reviewed by: Liz Shannon Miller
    May 15, 2020
    91
    Beautifully made and complex, and unflinching when it needs to be, The Great at times feels like a light meal, but then reveals its surprising density. It’s a show that’s easy to underestimate, but promises to be unforgettable.
  4. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    May 18, 2020
    90
    McNamara's scripts soar with effervescent humor and cleverness that Fanning amplifies with a sense of dignified, wry nonchalance. Fox is a swift partner at her side as Marial, while Hoult, who also appears in "The Favourite," manages to make Peter enjoyable despite his misdeeds. ... Ornate sets, beautiful lighting and impressive cinematography make "The Great" easy to take in, but its raucous energy, and the message at its center, certify it as a sweet binge that nourishes nevertheless.
  5. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    May 13, 2020
    90
    Reality is rarely as funny as this sparkling period satire. ... Throughout, I sensed Fanning — along with the rest of the cast — savoring McNamara’s brilliant script, with its carefully arranged layers of intention and its divine insults.
  6. Reviewed by: Allison Shoemaker
    May 13, 2020
    90
    The important thing, of course, is that it feels real. 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. Like that lauded cast, this one maintains that precarious balance with apparent ease.
  7. Reviewed by: Niv M. Sultan
    May 12, 2020
    88
    Alternately riotous and poignant.
  8. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    May 14, 2020
    85
    From its title to its tone to its production design and look, “The Great” mirrors “The Favourite” quite a bit. “The Great” is at its, uh, greatest when Fanning and Hoult spark off one another with McNamara’s rat-a-tat-tat dialogue.
  9. Reviewed by: Danette Chavez
    May 15, 2020
    83
    McNamara could have drilled down on the parallels to contemporary world leaders, but The Great’s humor and observations are sharper in their timelessness. Like Catherine, The Great succeeds because it knows when to keep some things to itself.
  10. Reviewed by: Kaitlin Thomas
    May 15, 2020
    83
    Period pieces can sometimes feel like a lecture, but The Great, elevated by brilliant performances from both of its leads and a bold and genuinely funny script, is far from a bore.
  11. Reviewed by: Rebecca Onion
    May 19, 2020
    80
    That durable comedic setup, the Battle of the Sexes—entitled, boorish Peter versus intelligent, hardworking Catherine—is at the heart of The Great. But there’s another kind of historical comedy here. Catherine is the new, struggling to be born; Peter is the old, fighting against change. The problem of emergent modernity has never been so funny.
  12. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    May 18, 2020
    80
    A simple check of Google could tell you how this all turns out but it’s fascinating to see how McNamara bends the narrative to fit the message.
  13. Reviewed by: Kevin Fallon
    May 15, 2020
    80
    It is a total, breezy delight.
  14. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    May 14, 2020
    80
    Juggling wit, depravity and political intrigue is not easy, and “The Great” doesn’t always succeed at it. ... For all its royal silliness, and a sometimes appalling affrontery, “The Great” is redeemed at the end of its 10-episode season (a second has yet to be announced) by a dose of realpolitik that few will see coming.
  15. 80
    Aside from the issues of its length, though, The Great pulls off the trick of its own internal contradictions. It is fun, somehow, which is extra impressive amid so much torture and death and critique of aristocratic privilege. ... The show’s Catherine the Great may not have much at all to do with the real woman, but she and Emperor Peter come alive anyhow. They’re true to The Great’s vision of them, even though the details are all made up.
  16. Reviewed by: Judy Berman
    May 12, 2020
    80
    It isn’t quite the perfectly paced masterpiece that movie was; some episodes drag, including a smallpox romp that’s more tiresome than timely. Still, its witty dialogue and lively performances yield a sharp, fun dramedy.
  17. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    May 8, 2020
    80
    Peter is fond of saying “Huzzah!” to cheer on his own pitiful efforts at governance. By the time you reach The Great‘s end, you’ll likely be saying it yourself, and more confidently than Peter ever does.
  18. Reviewed by: Caroline Framke
    May 8, 2020
    80
    “The Great” straddles the line between period drama and slapstick comedy with acrobatic ease. ... The cast is uniformly strong, and the series’ brisk and deliberate pacing makes sure to let each central actor show it (and luxuriate in McNamara’s uniquely spiky dialogue, besides).
  19. Reviewed by: Robert Levin
    May 15, 2020
    75
    "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.
  20. Reviewed by: Irene Monokandilos
    May 13, 2020
    67
    In the end, The Great never quite lives up to its name. Unable to rise above its growing pains and find a true sense of identity, the series comes off as a smarmy attempt to pass off a ribald, diluted take on the Dickinsons, Tudors, Downton Abbeys, and Favourites of the world.
  21. Reviewed by: Adrian Horton
    May 13, 2020
    60
    The squirm-inducing stunts of torture and vomit work in bursts, in a feature or perhaps half-hour chapters, but there’s only so much garish, ghastly flouting of the rules the point requires and the show’s brand of ruthless absurdity strains under 10 hour-long episodes; halfway in, I found myself wishing for a reprieve. Still, The Great maintains The Favourite’s bleak assessment of human motivation and capacity for meaninglessness in the name of keeping up appearances.
  22. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    May 14, 2020
    50
    If only “The Great” were as great as “The Great” seems to think “The Great” is, it’d be pretty great. But this 10-part limited series from Hulu is more tiresome then clever, more sadistically off-putting than wickedly funny, more overwrought than impactful.
  23. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    May 2, 2020
    50
    It’s very like “The Tudors” in its cruelty, coarse language, vulgarity and sexuality, a bit of “Start the Revolution Without Me” in its royal randiness, funny fops and the like.
  24. Reviewed by: Inkoo Kang
    May 1, 2020
    50
    Eventually, even the shocks of courtly excess — The Great's raison d'être — make way for a more conventional tale of royal intrigue. The former are amusing but exhausting; the latter, disappointingly orthodox. Despite stellar performances by Fanning and Hoult, The Great, by sticking a pure-hearted heroine in a world where heroism seems impossible, never quite adds up to a coherent whole. As an acidic confection, it's a lemon tart topped with moose lips.
  25. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    May 14, 2020
    40
    While its 10 episodes pop along and then fizzle out, a bigger problem presents itself, as “The Great” grows tediously and even torturously long — which may be its cruelest joke of all, as its appreciable style and sass surrender to repetitious rounds of palace intrigue.
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 24
  2. Negative: 6 out of 24
  1. May 20, 2020
    0
    Critics compare it to "The Favourite" by Lanthimos because of the -seemingly- similar irreverence to the apparent classicism of 18th periodCritics compare it to "The Favourite" by Lanthimos because of the -seemingly- similar irreverence to the apparent classicism of 18th period pieces (Barry Lyndon and all). They fail to understand that Lanthimos was actually ultra-realistic in a way, reminding us that the 18th century was an age of "libertinage", extreme sexuality, "effeminate" decadence, rococo, where women such as Pompadour ruled over style, as well as an explosion of ideas amongst this degenerate nobility...while at the same time drawing parallels with our current times, where a degenerate elite is falling to narcissism, nihilism, relativism and laziness. This is why it was so compelling!

    This show is doing the opposite! It's forcing modern tropes on the past. And is therefore as laughable as it is incongruous and useless.
    Full Review »
  2. May 18, 2020
    9
    Huzzah! This tv show is surprisingly very good, definitely not expected. A must watch!
  3. May 24, 2020
    7
    The Great is highly entertaining historical-ish fiction. In the same way Mad Men took a fantastical dramatical view to the ad men era of theThe Great is highly entertaining historical-ish fiction. In the same way Mad Men took a fantastical dramatical view to the ad men era of the 1960's, The Great takes a fansastical look at the Russian aristocracy of the 18th century. It's a heck of a lot better and much more truthful than other fantasy in similar veins (cough Downton Abbey trash) and you have to ignore everything you know about the actual history and people of the era. The performances are phenomenal, and the overall arc of the season is satisfying. The era is fascinating already so the massive fictionalizing is an odd choice; I'm trying to just enjoy it for what it is. Full Review »