Starz' Newest Miniseries with 96% Tomatometer is a Must-Watch for Outlander Fans

Starz' Newest Miniseries with 96% Tomatometer is a Must-Watch for Outlander Fans
Image credit: STARZ, Sky Atlantic

It's yet another modern take on history.


  • It's history – but not the way you were taught it.
  • Homoerotic Jacobeans, anyone?
  • It's a thought-provoking, empowering, but fun drama

Period drama has changed beyond belief in recent years. Not all of it, of course. There will always be a place on Sunday evenings for shows like Downton Abbey.

But shows like Bridgerton and Outlander have dared to suggest that people throughout the ages have had the same personal and carnal desires that are exhibited today.

Outlander, in particular, has some heavy scenes that shine a light on aspects of history we know to be real – even if the show itself is fictional. So, if you're a fan, Starz' miniseries Mary & George is for you.

It's got a near-perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes

Mary & George is a tale of intrigue, politics and sex.

Based on the nonfiction book The King's Assassin by Benjamin Wooley, it tells the story of Mary and George Villiers and their attempts to gain attention and influence in the royal court of King James VI (aka King James I, as he was monarch of both Scotland and England).

The Villiers are a mother and son whose abusive husband/father has died, leaving them with nothing. The only way they can retain their status is to marry well. Mary weds Sir Thomas Compton to secure funds to send George to France.

There he is to learn how to behave at court, but he discovers a whole lot more than that. In France, George finds out that it's ok to be gay. Upon his return to England, he meets the King and there is more than a little chemistry between them.

From then on, George (with Mary's support) sets out to seduce the king. To be fair, the King doesn't need much convincing to get down and dirty with George. Do you need all the sex scenes to tell the story? Probably not. But do they help give it a sense of fun in a way that sticks two fingers up at what was once a stuffy old genre? Absolutely!

Is it a true story?

Let's just say it's based on stories that are believed to be true. Mary and George are real people from history. And it seems pretty clear that George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, really did have an affair with King James. Mary's influence at court is also something that is not really disputed by historians.

Mark O'Halloran plays Francis Bacon – another well-known figure of the time who is believed to have been gay. But this is not a show that wants to 'expose' historical figures or allude to scandals between men at court.It's much less serious and judgmental. In many ways, it gives us a glimpse of what life might have been like if everyone back then had just been open about their sexuality – or even their desire to explore it.

Starz' Newest Miniseries with 96% Tomatometer is a Must-Watch for Outlander Fans - image 1

Okay, so it may be a bit of a stretch to imply that everyone at court was gay or bi. But who cares? We know some of them would have been, and the history books have spent centuries trying to convince us otherwise. So why not celebrate the fact that there were people getting their rocks off in whatever they wanted, regardless of what society or convention might have suggested?

Is it really like Outlander?

In a way. The love stories and the motivations behind them are a little different. Mary & George is, for the most part, a bit more playful than Outlander. But it doesn't completely ignore the politics of the time.

It remains a period drama dealing with the issues of its time – just with a bit of a modern twist. Let's remember that Outlander had a time travel element that kept it from being just a period piece.

Where the two are similar is that they provide an authentic look at the time in which they're set, but through a modern lens. So some elements may seem anachronistic from a purely historical perspective. But they're also powerful and thought-provoking.

Mary & George is available to stream on Starz beginning April 5.