‘Mary and George’ Is Rife with Orgies, Queer Affairs, and ‘Sizzling’ Seduction: It’s a ‘Very Punk’ Take on Royal Sex

A mother pimping out her son? Not quite a story you hear every day, but historically accurate nonetheless.

Julianne Moore and Nicholas Galitzine lead limited series “Mary and George” as the titular Mary Villiers, Countess of Buckingham, and her son George, who together set out to seduce King James I (Tony Curran) and well, penetrate the throne.

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While the trailer quickly was turned into viral GIFs courtesy of Galitzine and Curran’s steamy scenes, it’s Oscar winner Moore’s performance that has turned critics’ heads, according to reviews for the series. The Guardian called the series “magnificent” in part due to its “narrative rigor of ‘The Favourite,’ the disciplined panache of ‘The Great,’ just a dash of ‘The Tudors’’ excess and enough sex to keep ‘Bridgerton’ fans happy too.” Those risqué scenes range from queer group sex, royal orgies, and Moore’s “monster” of a mother who still serves as the deliciously deceitful heroine of the tale, created by “Killing Eve” screenwriter and playwright D.C. Moore.

The Yahoo! review noted, “Moore has played plenty of mothers before — but never one like this, one whose motherly instincts feel tinged with an almost barbaric sense of self-preservation. Surrounded by a cast of mostly British actors, this American-born Oscar winner more than holds her own, finding a chilling coarseness run through her portrayal of Mary Villiers,” adding that “Mary and George” is “not so much a story about power as it is about seduction.”

But isn’t power and seduction one and the same?

“These are people who use sex not just for intimacy and relationship building, but for power, as a transaction,” Moore told The New York Times of unpacking her titular role. “The most compelling thing to me about Mary was that she was very aware of how limited her choices were. She had no autonomy, her only paths are through the men she is married to, or her sons.”

Moore added that her son George “is almost her proxy; he has access to a world she doesn’t have.”

The sexual politics and gendered divisions of power onscreen further seems to echo Moore’s latest turn as both a mother and a seducer in “May December.” Moore reflected on the royal legacy of “Mary and George,” saying that “this history could be told through a female lens, a queer lens.” The actress called the series “very punk, very active, and modern,” quipping, “It’s not a historical drama that is relaxing!”

Up next, Moore will star alongside Tilda Swinton and John Turturro in Pedro Almodóvar’s first English-language feature “The Room Next Door.” Meanwhile, her “Mary and George” co-star Galitzine leads rom-com “The Idea of You” with Anne Hathaway in May.

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