History does repeat itself when ‘Marie Antoinette’ premieres March 19 on PBS

Emilia Schüle and Louis Cunningham in Marie Antoinette. Photograph: Caroline Dubois/BBC/Capa Drama/Banijay Studios France/Les Gens/Canal+

You know the story. You studied it in school somewhere along the line. The future king of France is not exactly a catch. Marie Antoinette, barely a teenager at 14, has been sent from Austria to be married off to Louis-Auguste, the eldest son of the King of France.

Airing Sundays, March 19 through May 7, Marie Antoinette stars Emilia Schüle (Berlin Dance School) in the title role. Marie is just a teenager when she leaves Austria to marry the Dauphin of France (Louis Cunningham, Bridgerton).

When Marie arrives at Versailles, she must obey the numerous and complex rules of the French court. The princess quickly suffers from not being able to live her life the way she wants, while her mother, the Empress of Austria, (Tony nominee Marthe Keller) keeps pushing her to continue the Bourbon line and thus secure the alliance between the two countries. However, faced with Louis’ avoidant and solitary character, the mission turns out to be more complicated than expected.

Written by Deborah Davis, who also wrote The Favourite, for which she was nominated for an Oscar, Marie Antoinette heads to PBS as part of the Sunday night drama series, Masterpiece, beginning March 19.

Based on the fact that both historians and purists in France, where the series launched last Fall, have unsurprisingly called it “obscene” and full of “historical aberrations”, including the supposed rebrand of Marie Antoinette as a feminist icon, it’s bound to be an audience favorite.

As the last queen of France before the revolution, Marie Antoinette starts out as a naive and playful teenager. What lies ahead is a future that she has not chosen, one that begins with learning how she must be ‘trained’ in Frence etiquett. She learns an elaborate curtsy, smirking at the ridiculousness of it by saying, “Is that good enough for Versailles?

Well, if there is any reason to believe that history does, indeed, repeat itself, Marie Antoinette reminds all of us that marrying into a royal family should never be regarded as a fairytale.

In: Drama