All three seasons of Medici are now available on Netflix
Medici is a historical drama, and oftentimes political thriller, depicting the wealthy and influential Medici family of Florence who helped to usher in the Renaissance during much of the fifteenth century. The family, especially Cosimo de’ Medici (the Elder) and Lorenzo de’ Medici (the Magnificent) leveraged their financial and political influence to act as de facto rulers of Florence and were involved in nearly every significant decision and event during their time, even going on to eventually produce four Popes over the following century.
Medici boasts a large and talented cast, but there are a few that need to be focused on. Cosimo de’ Medici, as the patriarch of the family and its political influence, is portrayed by Richard Madden during season one. In seasons two and three, Cosimo’s grandson Lorenzo de’ Medici is played by Daniel Sharman alongside Bradley James, who plays the part of Giuliano de’ Medici, Lorenzo’s brother and confidant. Surrounding these men are family members, political allies and opponents, and plenty of challenges they will need to overcome if they hope to survive and keep a hold on their power.
This show, only three seasons long, is action-packed, filled with dialogue and politics, and is fairly honest about its source material. Although the series certainly is dramatized and some liberties have to be taken, the overall events that take place closely follow the history of the family and what they did throughout their years.
Richard Madden’s performance as Cosimo the Elder is exceptionally good as the audience follows him and his path to power. It was Cosimo who first used the power of his family bank to ensure his place in Florentine politics and made moves to secure his family’s legacy.
Daniel Sharman is great in his performance as Lorenzo the Magnificent throughout his two seasons on the show. Sharman is riveting in this and his stature as an actor only increases now that the show has ended. It was Lorenzo who was primarily responsible for ushering in the Renaissance for Florence and he often played the part of ambassador during times of war and peace for the city-state. At one point in time, Lorenzo was powerful enough to challenge Pope Sixtus IV and was the target of a coordinated assassination attempt, which are leading plot points of the final season.
Showing the drama of history and politics through entertainment, such as a television show, is a great way to get more people interested in studying history and understanding the intricacies of the world and how it came to be over the centuries.
What Medici proves is that historical drama can be fun and interesting to watch. Sometimes attempts at this genre can feel stuffy or methodical, even if their goal is to entertain, but Medici pulls it off with grace and keeps its audience coming back for more. Being available on Netflix, too, makes this an easy show to binge-watch. Fans of The Tudors may be able to find something similar in Medici, even though they deal with different periods and subjects.
This review first appeared on Salt Lake Film Review