The Atlantic

How Victoria Aims to Connect With Young Women

The new Masterpiece period drama, set to debut in America, tells a timely story about an unlikely female ruler.
Source: ITV / PBS

Victoria, a new miniseries charting the famous queen’s early reign, premieres Sunday on PBS’s Masterpiece—nearly 180 years after the monarch ascended the British throne and five days before Donald Trump assumes the American presidency. Here in Columbia, Missouri, the college town where I live and teach, we had a special preview of Victoria’s opening episode on December 5th. Over 500 people turned up, most of them women in their 40s through 60s. But college students, many of whom came into adulthood following the soapy adventures of Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary and Lady Edith, also attended. So did teenagers, who texted right up to the moment the lights went out.

Judging by audience reactions and conversations I had with attendees, the older women enjoyed Victoria, but the younger ones devoured it. They oohed and aahed over the palaces. The gardens. The shot-silk gowns. Many gushed over Victoria’s lapdog. Some mooned over Rufus Sewell, who plays a smoldering Lord Melbourne. Most of all, they seemed to thrill at watching a feisty teenage girl running a country. Afterward, in the theater’s lobby, their comments entwined Victoria with the U.S. election. “Why can’t we live in England, where people are smart enough to put a female in charge?” one asked another

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