Cross Downton Abbey with Game of Thrones and turn the shock dial up to eleventy, and you’ve got Versailles, the first two episodes of which are now available on SBS On Demand.
The first episode of this blockbuster period drama is riveting and sordid, and ends with a binge-worthy bang, but it can take a while to differentiate between characters due to the fact that everyone, male and female, has long hair.
So here’s a handy visual guide:
Louis XIV, 28-year-old King of France. Big dreamer. Enjoys the odd tantrum. Loves to bed as many women as possible. Love to hate him.
Queen Marie-Thérèse, his pregnant, disinterested wife, who offloads her concerns to a friendly black dwarf.
His loyal yet wary brother, Monsieur Phillippe, Duc d’Orleans, who is very much hiding in the 1667 version of the closet.
Henrietta, Philippe’s wife, who’s always been in love with Louis and has no qualms with straying from her husband’s bed.
Chevalier de Lorraine, Phillippe’s lover, who despises the power Louis has over Phillippe and is constantly planting ideas in the Monsieur’s head.
Bontemps, Louis’ loyal valet, a man whose every facial expression captivates and who seems to have the King’s best interests at heart.
Masson, Louis’ and the Queen’s doctor, who is also training his daughter for a then-dangerous career in medicine.
She seems to like it.
Fabien Marchal, Louis’ chief of police, a mysterious man who acts on behalf of the king, usually in the most brutal of ways.
The ambitious Madame de Clermont, who has specific, self-serving plans for her daughter, Sophie.
François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois, Louis’ Secretary of State for War, perpetually befuddled by King Louis’ ideas.
Louise De La Valliere, Louis’ lover who has fallen out of favour with the King. You don’t want to know how she’s punishing herself in this scene.
Then there’s this guy. I have no idea who he is.
Wait, I don’t remember this guy either.
All I know is if you’re in this show and you have short hair, watch out...
Episode 1 and 2 of Versailles are available on SBS on Demand. The full series airs in August.
Watch episode 1 right here: