“Reign” Fudges Historical Facts: 4 Other Shows That Rewrote History

Jae Curtis | Oct 24, 2013

Reign Mary Queen of Scots

Hey, something had to fill the gaping hole left by Gossip Girl – the CW premiered it’s latest drama-fest last week, centered around the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. But before you skip studying for your history test, you should know that there are some serious historical discrepancies when it comes to the accuracy of the plot.

For one, Mary is depicted as an 18-year-old, despite being only 14 when she wed the Dauphin of France, depicted as a hunky blonde with an inexplicable English accent on the show. And, considering he died only a year after beginning his reign, one has to wonder where the series is going. But no matter – Reign is in good company with a number of TV series who rewrote history in the name of ratings.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand: Historically, Spartacus was the famed gladiator who was the catalyst for the Roman uprising. In Spartacus: Blood and Sand, he’s basically the same character – with a few upgrades. For one, the show focuses on his wish to get revenge after the murder of his wife. In real life, Spartacus’ wife was a slave alongside her husband. Another area where things were embellished are the actual gladiator fights. While depicted as duels to the death, gladiators were actually an expensive investment and well protected, which is why most warriors battled animals or prisoners – not each other.

Boardwalk Empire: You’d think a show about one of the most regulated periods in American history would be, well, regulated. But despite the fact that Enoch “Nucky” Thompson really did rule Jersey during Prohibition, there’s little historical accuracy to his life in times. In fact, creator Terence Winter told Wired that he opted to skip the researchers and fictionalize the entire tale, using real characters with fictionalized lives.

The Tudors:While it’s true that The Tudors sticks closer to history than other tales (we’re looking at you, The Other Boleyn Girl) there are some discrepancies, particularly when it comes to timelines and characters. For one, the King Henry VIII courting and subsequent marriage of Anne Boleyn was a five-year ordeal – that’s not including her trial and eventual beheading. But the series gives it a scant couple of seasons, creating a disproportionate timeline. Also, can we talk about King Henry’s appearance? Sure, he may have been dreamy and muscular in his earlier years, but as he aged, he become overweight and had a reputation for a rotten smell, which doesn’t sound much like Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

John Adams:Is your patriotism tingling? That’s because you probably feel so proud of the journey of John Adams in his very own miniseries. But right out of the gate there are issues. In the first episode, Adams witnesses the Boston Massacre and it colors the rest of his political career, when in fact, Adams didn’t see the massacre in real life at all. There’s also the issue of his son, Sam Adams, being depicted as a fiery corrupt upstart – he actually has a reputation for being fair and level-headed. Just don’t tell Samuel Adams beer drinkers that.

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