With just a few episodes released, Matthew Wiener’s The Romanoffs seems to be just another disjointed Amazon web-series. Filled with recognizable actors and actresses, the show centers on the lives of modern-day people who believe that they are descendants of the famed Russian royal family that was brutally executed by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg, Russia in 1918. What one has to wonder in watching the show is if the series may actually be fraudulent like the people claiming to be related to the imperial family.
The history behind the House of Romanov is actually interesting. They were the second dynasty to rule Russia, reigning for just over 300 years. In 1917, there were 65 members of the family, 18 of whom were executed by the Bolsheviks. The remaining 47 members went into exile abroad and the show centers around characters who believe they share this lineage. In 1924, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich claimed headship of the defunct Imperial House of Russia that inspired the creation of additional ancestry accounts.
These accounts continued broadly – with people utilizing false titles of nobility or royalty to elevate the social status in society. But, in 1991, all but two members of the family’s remains were located in a forest outside Yekaterinburg. Then, in 2008, forensic scientists announced that they had found the remains of the final two bodies. These findings allowed for DNA testing to prove who actually belongs to the royal family. Interestingly enough – as of 2018 the Russian Orthodox Church still has not recognized these remains as belonging to the imperial family.
So with all of that background in hand, Matthew Weiner – best known for his creation of the iconic TV series Mad Men, created the anthology series The Romanoffs after a 70-million-dollar winning bid by Amazon. Originally, the series was supposed to be in cooperation with The Weinstein Company until sexual abuse allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein led to Amazon “severing all ties” with the production company in 2017. Nonetheless, Weiner pressed on with Amazon to film the series which doesn’t seem to be nearly as engaging as the history that it is based on.
That isn’t to say that the show doesn’t have some compelling elements to it. The characters are interesting and, because many of them are well-known celebrities that viewers have seen in other enjoyable productions, one can’t help to root for their success. But, not unlike other Amazon series (Jack Ryan), much of the work feels disjointed and the development of the 84- to 88-minute episodes feels painstakingly slow.
Overall, The Romanoffs series is a little forced and because of that it feels a bit fraudulent. If one is a fan of less radical versions of M. Night Shyamalan endings and week-to-week episodic surprises then you may love The Romanoffs. But, if not, it is more likely that you will be more intrigued with the actual history of the royal family that inspired the series. Even so, there is more to come, so that could mean that there are meaningful surprises in the show yet to be discovered.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. Do you or don’t you value familial ancestry and why?
Q2. Why do you think people try so hard to gain social status?
Q3. What do you think ultimately gives a person value?