Arnaud, a French-speaking Canadian who has for the occasion mastered an almost flawless English accent, seems like a vampire sucking out every inch of limelight from his scenes with Jeremy Irons. Strutting around in a pair of the most impressive leather trousers seen since Michael Hutchence-era INXS, this guy has turned His Eminence into a rockstar. Even the moles by his eye look like eyebrow piercing. And what a coincidence that, having been clearly earmarked by the producers as the marketable heart-throb, Cesare has very contemporary-looking (check out the side parting!) long black emo-like hair, while in the meantime David Oakes, who plays his brother Juan, gets one of the most unflattering fringes in recent history of Renaissance Reconstructions1.
[1 It would, however, probably have won a top prize at the Renaissance Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio.]
And what about Lucrezia? Cesare’s little sister, played by the impossibly rosy-faced Holliday Grainger, makes her first appearance in a scene in which she is spying on her brother bedroom antics. That sets the tone for what is to follow and is rather telling on the nature of the siblings’ relationship, touching on the persistent rumours (albeit never confirmed) that they had an incestuous liaison, which may have even produced a son.
There is certainly a lot of chemistry between the two actors, and they actually look so stunning together that you kind of want them to do it, have beautiful babies and to hell with that slight matter of incest. Indeed, on the The Measure of All Things, the show’s IMDB discussion board the general consensus seems to be that Cesare and Lucrezia should be seen ‘together’.
For once, the generally North American and conservative TV viewer is actively advocating incest. Isn’t this, in itself, an excellent reason to watch the show?
Sure, it’s not the most gripping of prime-time dramas; the exposition of the historical background is often rather crude (Jeremy Irons ‘explains’ things to a child or a woman – I will try not to read too much into that, as those were pre-feminist days after all). Also, rather disappointingly, there isn’t anywhere near enough nudity and very little gratuitous sex. Violence has been – so far – fairly moderate. Game of Thrones, it ain’t. But what The Borgias does have is some fine acting, some exceptionally good-looking people and a pair of leather trousers that you will never be allowed to forget. Switch over to Sky Atlantic NOW.