Queen Cleopatra Season 1 Review – Netflix docu-series is a subpar stinker

Season 1

Episode Guide

When In Rome
What Must Be Done
The Last Pharaoh


Queen Cleopatra is a historical docudrama, part of the ongoing “African Queens” series, chronicling the lives of notable female rulers in African history. Among the most popular across the globe is the last Pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra VII Philopator. Her story is intriguing not only because it is historically important, but also because it is mired in mysticism.

The majority of the drama revolves around the Egyptian queen’s rule after she succeeded her late father, Ptolemy XII Auletes. Among the many subjects covered in the series are the disagreements between her and co-pharaoh Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator. Additionally, we also learn about the Pharaoh’s relationship with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, who were two Roman generals.

Shakespeare immortalized Queen Cleopatra through his tragic play Antony & Cleopatra, with the storyline of the play revolving around two highly influential individuals who were torn apart. The docudrama, on the other hand, is not only interested in discussing the tragic love triangle. Instead, the series tells the story of the Pharaoh as a ruler and politician who fought till the very end.

The docudrama presents the story of the renowned monarch using twice the dramatic weight of a Wikipedia article. For four episodes, the show consists primarily of dramatic recreations sprinkled with excessively sentimental commentary. Additionally, the episodes open with a voiceover by Jada Pinkett Smith, who praises Cleopatra’s intelligence in a somber tone usually reserved for devastating news.

Several highly educated scholars are featured in the episodes, but the show rarely makes clever use of them. A scholar tells us that her grandmother told her “No matter what they tell you, Cleopatra was black”. A male scholar asserts that he believes Cleopatra had light brown skin along with curly hair, in contrast to the female scholar.

Both sides of a debate must present compelling arguments, each supported by evidence to back it up… but this does absolutely no such thing. The show basis its foundations on weak arguments that are solely based on feelings and what one thinks, making for an almost unbearably dull watch.

There is sufficient evidence to show that Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek, so it is somewhat disrespectful to imply otherwise, especially when it lacks proof to support it. Additionally, there isn’t a single historical image here of Cleopatra’s castles, her numerous statues, as well as paintings of some of her most notable conquests, either romantically or geographically.

The documentary series sheds light on the politics at the time and how it contrasted with the ethical standards of the present day. The show implies that it is tricky to categorize Cleopatra’s choice to kill her siblings, Ptolemy XIV, and Arsinoe IV, as either good or evil because it was motivated by self-preservation. On the other hand, compared to Cleopatra’s character, the show does not do Arsinoe IV’s character justice. When her sister deserved to be humanized, the creators turned her into a villain to enhance Queen Cleopatra’s magnificent image.

The show’s plotline is rather uninteresting too. The conversations between characters are overly dramatic and insignificant, and it fails to transport us back in time, which is something a show like this must do. Even after you’ve finished watching all four episodes, you don’t fully understand the kind of Pharaoh Cleopatra was.

She is depicted as a calculating seductress who would go against morality to get what she wanted. However, she is also glorified for her actions, making for a somewhat conflicting watch.

The performances of the actors in the show are, unfortunately, also poor. Adele James does the best she can to capture Cleopatra’s essence but the general style they’re going for here, is unclear. The portrayal of Julius Caesar by John Partridge is rather lackluster, and at times unintentionally hilarious. To make matters worse, the soundtrack features rap and trip-hop, an artistic choice that doesn’t really work for the docuseries.

If you’re looking for a summary on the last Pharaoh’s life and the debate surrounding her, the show is passable at best. However, the scripted portion of the historical drama is factually inaccurate and fails in almost every facet of its execution. fails in its execution. This one’s definitely one to skip, especially if you’re after historical accuracy.

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  • Verdict - 2/10

6 thoughts on “Queen Cleopatra Season 1 Review – Netflix docu-series is a subpar stinker”

  1. Cleopatra is more woke delusion.
    I never watch anything woke.
    I’ll take kdramas over Hollywood anyday.

  2. A shitshow from start to finish. Can’t believe those so called scholars probably spent thousands upon thousands of dollars in their education to end up defending the undefendable. It never occurred to me Americans were this stupid

  3. If you have so much black history that you are deeply proud of,
    why are you trying to pass someone else’s history off as your own?

    This series undercuts Pinkitt-Smith’s entire premise that history is rife with strong, wise, BLACK queens.
    On the contrary, it comes across as desperate, envious, shallow, and downright sad.

  4. Why is there always so much emphasis on skin tone and an attempt to change history whenever possible?!
    There are plenty of brilliant and successful people with darker skin. You don’t need to hijack someone’s history from over 2000 years ago.
    Be the most, you can be today, now, in the present. That’s all any of us can do.

    I almost stopped watching when I heard the rap music.

  5. This so-called documentary is a huge disservice to the history of Greece , Egypt and Africa as a whole. The insistence that there are questions about Cleopatra’s lineage are ridiculous, when she was a real life historical person about whom much was written about. Agree totally with your review, not only painful to watch and hear the many distortions of history.

  6. We know Cleopatra was a Greek, why are black Americans stealing other people’s history, it’s as if African’s are ashamed of their own. The old saying every dog has its day comes to mind. Africans never invented anything for the last 50,000 year’s simply because they didn’t need to, Europe did because we had to, no rocket science involved. Africa had an abundance of food for its population, the industrial revolution happened because Europe didn’t.

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