|Also known as|
|Created by||Tony McNamara|
|Music by||Nathan Barr|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||20|
|Running time||50-61 minutes|
|Original release||May 15, 2020 –|
The Great (titled onscreen as The Great: An Occasionally True Story and later as The Great: An Almost Entirely Untrue Story) is a historical and satirical black comedy-drama streaming television series described by its commissioner Hulu as "anti-historical" loosely based on the rise to power of Catherine the Great, Empress of All Russia. All ten episodes of the first season were released on Hulu on May 15, 2020. The series stars Elle Fanning as Empress Catherine II and Nicholas Hoult as the Emperor Peter III.
In July 2020, Hulu renewed the series for a second season which premiered on November 19, 2021. In January 2022, the series was renewed for a third season.
The Great is a historical and satirical black comedy-drama about the rise of Catherine the Great from outsider to the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia's history. The series is fictionalized and portrays Catherine in her youth and marriage to Emperor Peter III of Russia, focusing on the plot to kill her depraved and dangerous husband.
|1||10||May 15, 2020|
|2||10||November 19, 2021|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"The Great"||Matt Shakman||Written for Television by : Tony McNamara||May 15, 2020|
|In the eighteenth century, a young and naïve Catherine marries the Peter III of Russia. Her ambitions and optimism shatter as she finds out about Peter's unserious, cruel and spiteful nature, and that he only married her for an heir. Catherine finds an unexpected friend in her maid, Marial, a former noblewoman demoted to serfdom. When Catherine discovers that women are not educated in Russia, she succeeds in securing funds with the permission of Peter to establish a school. But Peter burns the school soon after learning that the school was meant for girls. When Peter shoots the bear he gave to Catherine during a ball, she slaps him in front of everyone. Peter punches her in seclusion and warns her. Catherine, now being nothing more than a prisoner, decides to evade the castle with the help of Marial, but the plan fails as Peter finds out. Disheartened, Catherine is about to slit her wrist when Marial informs her about a law in Russia: if an emperor dies without an heir, the throne will ultimately be given to the empress. Delighted, Catherine begins to plot to overthrow her husband.|
|2||2||"A Fake Beard"||Colin Bucksey||Tony McNamara||May 15, 2020|
|As Catherine and Marial struggle to devise the murder of Peter, the latter suggests to use Orlo, a member of Peter's inner circle, by seducing him. Matters do not go as planned as Catherine fails to seduce Orlo and straightforwardly spells out her plan to him. When Peter apologises to Catherine for his prior behaviour, she declines. Meanwhile, Orlo endeavours to retain the civilians' free will as Count Rostov is repulsive of having his beard shaved off according to an edict. The ladies despise Catherine at court, which, along with Catherine's lack of submission, enrages Peter who decides to kill her in a carriage accident. Archie warns her and she pretends to be affectionate and submissive to Peter, making him change his decision. She also learns about Peter's mother who was harsh towards him. As Catherine forces Orlo to cooperate with her for the country's sake, he refuses but assures his confidence. When depraved Peter coerces Orlo to shave Rostov's beard, Orlo agrees to join forces with Catherine.|
|3||3||"And You Sir, Are No Peter the Great"||Bert & Bertie||Tony McNamara||May 15, 2020|
|Catherine and Orlo prepare manifestos for their new era when Peter brings a 'lover' for Catherine, Leo Voronsky, but she is reluctant to the notion. Orlo suspects Leo to be a spy for Peter, which Catherine declines to believe. Catherine asks Leo not to consummate and to pretend that they had a lovely night. The next day, Catherine assures Peter that she and Leo had a great night and he could let him go but Peter beats Leo up for not convincing her to keep him for long. Orlo and Marial suggest Catherine to leverage Ivan, Peter's half-brother, against him. Catherine succeeds in locating Ivan out with the help of Aunt Elizabeth, who is hidden in a secret room in the castle. Meanwhile, Peter is humiliated by his comrades for his lack of strategizing abilities. Catherine embarrasses Lady Svenska at ladies' tea in retaliation for hurting Marial, causing the ladies to turn on her. When Peter gives a speech about the remarkability of his father, he gets emotional when an officer mocks him. Encouraged by Catherine to bring forth his real emotions, he instead stabs the officer. Delighted, Peter allows Catherine to have a lover of her own choice, but Catherine, now taking an interest in Leo, lies to the latter that Peter did not let him go but she accepts him as her lover. As a result, she begins a passionate relationship with him.|
|4||4||"Moscow Mule"||Bert & Bertie||Tess Morris||May 15, 2020|
|Catherine and Leo pursue their love affair. News breaks about the patriarch, Bishop Ivan Illyich, the Russian Orthodox church leader, has passed and Peter must choose a new one by the following day. Catherine, Marial, and Orlo continue to plan for their new era, aiming to appoint Bishop Tarcinkus as the new church leader. Catherine is made aware of the horse-relations rumour Lady Svenska started and tries to make amends for political purposes. One bishop renounces Peter and commits self-immolation during the bishop selection. Meanwhile, Catherine devises to gain the other ladies' admiration through gifting Fabergé eggs. Lady Svenska invites Catherine to a tea with the rest of the ladies in which they push, kick, and belittle her. Peter instructs Archie to receive a vision from God to decide on who the new bishop shall be. He consumes psychedelic mushrooms and Catherine stumbles upon him as he hallucinates. He believes her to be an angel and she tells him that he is the rightful bishop. To celebrate Archie's new title at the party, Catherine and Marial stage a slapping as a lesson to the other ladies, as advised by Marial herself and Aunt Elizabeth.|
|5||5||"War and Vomit"||Ben Chessell||James Wood||May 15, 2020|
|Catherine and Elizabeth visit the Russian front amid the war with Sweden. Appalled with the horrors she witnessed there, Catherine becomes determined to gain the throne in a nonviolent manner. Catherine attempts to convince Peter to withdraw the military, though she is unsuccessful. Peter instead heads off to eat dinner, and is soon joined by Grigor. Grigor poisons Peter's borscht with arsenic, unable to bear Peter's affair with Georgina any longer. This causes Peter to become gravely ill, and leaves Catherine next in line for the throne. However, Catherine's claim to the throne is threatened by the existence of Ivan and her lack of supporters. A search for Ivan ensues, resulting in Elizabeth murdering Ivan to secure Catherine's claim. Catherine's newfound belief causes tension between her, Marial, and Orlo, who try to convince her that she must engage in bloodshed as Empress. As Catherine and Marial squabble over whether or not to kill Peter, he awakens, miraculously cured.|
|6||6||"Parachute"||Ben Chessell||Tony McNamara||May 15, 2020|
|Peter feels inspired to better himself after his brush with death. Elizabeth encourages Peter to sire an heir, leading him to seek out Catherine. They become more intimate, putting a strain on her relationship with Leo. Catherine uses Peter's newfound interest in her to encourage him to bring arts and sciences to Russia. Vlad teaches Peter about parachutes. Archie discourages Peter's pursuit of the arts and sciences and threatens Catherine, who retaliates. Orlo becomes lost in the woods and encounters soldiers. Archie puts a crow in Peter's room to scare him, angering Peter. Catherine asks Peter to reinstate Marial as a lady of the court. Peter refuses, revealing the reason for her demotion: her father committed necrophilia with Peter's mother's corpse. Catherine changes her plans for better Russia. Peter uses the parachute on Marial's dog. Catherine celebrates this demonstration of science with hope for the future.|
|7||7||"A Pox on Hope"||Colin Bucksey||Tony McNamara and Gretel Vella||May 15, 2020|
|Thanks to Catherine, the Russian court is excitedly consuming art previously banned. Catherine becomes optimistic that she can change Russia by influencing Peter instead of killing him, and gifts him a printing press. Archie is opposed, but Peter finds the press's ability to print funny cartoons amusing and allows it to stay. To thank Catherine, he performs cunnilingus on her and she reaches orgasm, which troubles her as she feels she's been unfaithful to Leo. When Peter discusses the event with Leo, he becomes frustrated that Catherine has been spending more time with her husband and is becoming closer to him. He gets drunk and distributes cartoons depicting Catherine having sex with a horse. Georgina feels that she is losing Peter's favor. Marial kisses Vlad and is about to have sex with him when she discovers evidence of smallpox on his back. She and Catherine attempt to help him, but Dr. Chekov is indifferent and plans to burn Vlad along with several other serfs who have been affected by an outbreak. Catherine pushes for inoculation, but the court and Peter are against her. Peter is furious when she inoculates herself before the entire court to convince them of its efficacy. He bans the practice and locks her away until it is certain that she has not been infected. Catherine emerges from her apartments and witnesses, from a distance, the serfs, including Vlad, being burned.|
|8||8||"Meatballs at the Dacha"||Colin Bucksey||Teleplay by : Tony McNamara|
Story by : Amelia Roper and Tony McNamara
|May 15, 2020|
|Catherine and Peter travel to meet the King and Queen of Sweden for peace talks. Peter tries to make amends with Catherine by giving her a large diamond, but she remains angry with him for burning the pox-infected serfs, including Vlad. Along route to Sweden, Catherine again tries to get Velementov to join the coup, but he is only interested in seducing her. Peter and Catherine share a moment of closeness before the peace talks begin. Peter initially gets on well with the Swedish king, Hugo, finding him a kindred spirit, but becomes enraged when Hugo demands the return of St. Petersburg. The peace talks fall apart and both sides threaten to escalate the war, until Catherine steps in, claiming to have heard the Emperor talking in his sleep, and presents a compromise that everyone agrees to. Troubled by the distance he feels between himself and Catherine, Leo prepares to return home, but is stopped by Marial who reveals Catherine's coup plans to him. Catherine and Peter return to Moscow and are celebrated for their victory. Peter thanks Catherine for helping him, revealing he knows he doesn't talk in his sleep. Catherine and Leo are reunited and he enthusiastically joins the coup.|
|9||9||"Love Hurts"||Geeta Patel||Tony McNamara||May 15, 2020|
|Orlo, Marial, Velementov and Leo set out to bring more aristocrats to Catherine's side and achieve mixed results. Velementov and Leo are forced to kill Count Gorky after he refuses to join the coup. Elizabeth's suspicions are aroused, as Gorky had been Peter the Great's best friend, unbeknownst to the conspirators. Peter becomes convinced there is a threat to his life and surrounds Catherine and himself with guards everywhere they go, as the entire court, aside from Elizabeth, Georgina and Grigor, are subjected to torture. Catherine, determined to show the court that she is not in league with Peter, undergoes torture herself. She and the other conspirators succeed at keeping the coup a secret. Grigor confronts Peter and at last tells him he's uncomfortable with his affair with Georgina. Peter agrees to end the relationship and reveals he's fallen in love with Catherine. Rostov, who was forced to shave his beard and lost the love of his wife as a result, returns only to face ridicule from Peter and Grigor. After a tryst with Marial, who is as ever desperate to become a noble again, Rostov is convinced to break into the room where Peter is hiding with Catherine and attempt to kill him. Peter, Grigor and Georgina succeed at fighting Rostov off and killing him. At a dinner with the Russian court, who are all recovering from a day of torture, Catherine gives a passionate speech that unites them in devotion to her. Afterward, Peter tells Catherine he loves her. She returns to her apartments and discovers evidence that she's pregnant.|
|10||10||"The Beaver's Nose"||Geeta Patel||Tony McNamara||May 15, 2020|
|Initially in shock at the revelation that she is pregnant by Peter, Catherine wakes on her 21st birthday determined to enact the coup today. Peter prepares a special cake and other gifts for his wife, then plans to kill Leo, believing this will cause her affections to transfer to him. Catherine sends Velementov to gather the military leaders to support her and sends Orlo to kill Archie, while promising Marial that Archie will not be harmed. Leo goes hunting with Grigor and Peter and they attempt to kill him, but are unsuccessful. Catherine prepares to kill her husband during a birthday lunch with Peter, but is halted when he reveals her gift: the philosopher Voltaire, whom Catherine idolizes. She finds herself unable to kill Peter in front of Voltaire, but once he leaves finds her courage. Peter claims that Leo has abandoned her, but Catherine instantly realizes her lover is either dead or in danger and attacks Peter, who easily fends her off, believing her assault to have arisen out of passion for him, and locks her in the room. Orlo fails to kill Archie and is injured. Marial, frustrated that Catherine has not killed Peter, becomes convinced the coup will fail and discovers Orlo attacking Archie. Furious that she's been betrayed, she is persuaded by Archie to reveal Catherine's betrayal to Peter. In exchange for becoming a lady again, Marial shows Peter Catherine's plans for overthrowing him and reveals that she's pregnant. Heartbroken, Peter confronts Catherine, who nearly convinces him to abdicate. He instead shows her that Leo is his prisoner and threatens to kill him unless she calls off the coup. Catherine goes to Velementov to stop the uprising, determined to save Leo, but he shows her that she has filled Russia with hope for a new future and that is more important. He points out that if she doesn't proceed now, their attempt will never succeed. Catherine goes to see Leo and explains what has happened. He expresses regret but understands her choice. Catherine kisses him goodbye, then signals Velementov, who fires his pistol to restart the coup.|
|Title ||Directed by||Written by||Original release date |
|11||1||"Heads, It's Me"||Colin Bucksey||Tony McNamara||November 19, 2021|
|It has been four months since the coup began. Leo is missing, though Catherine remains hopeful he is alive. A standoff has occurred in the palace with Catherine's forces in one wing and Peter's in another. Catherine attempts to smoke out Peter using Molotov cocktails, but Peter, Grigor, and Georgina flee to his country villa. Peter sends for his chef, Jean-Louis, to follow him, and Catherine's troops follow and surround the villa. A stalemate ensues, which is broken when Catherine has Jean-Louis prepare a feast and wafts the scent across the river to torment the starving Peter. Peter surrenders and agrees to transfer power to Catherine, asking only that he be placed under house arrest and have a meal with Catherine and their unborn child every day. After his abdication is signed, he casually gifts Catherine a bag containing Leo's severed head. Later, Peter reveals to Grigor and Georgina that he has a plan to retake the country.|
|12||2||"Dickhead"||Colin Bucksey||Tony McNamara||November 19, 2021|
|Catherine brings Peter, Grigor, and Georgina back to the palace. She reconciles with Marial, promoting her back to her status as a noblewoman, and strikes a bargain with Archie, who has given instructions to turn religious Russians against her if he is killed. She also launches her long-awaited girls' school, though she is met with resistance from Lady Svenska and the ladies at court. Prior to her coronation, Catherine begins meeting with the nobles of her empire, but many of them do not respect her and present her with disparaging gifts referencing the rumor that she had sex with a horse. One particularly rude noble, Tarzinsky, threatens Catherine with violence but is cowed by Archie's presence. The only visitor who positively interacts with Catherine is Father Basil, a country priest, who reveals he is Leo's cousin and gives her Leo's letters. Catherine is crowned and begins her rule. Her first decree proclaims religious freedom in Russia, provoking Archie's ire, and Catherine decides to groom Father Basil's as Archie's replacement. Meanwhile, Peter announces that he plans to wait for Catherine to fail and make her fall in love with him. Gregor and Arkady plot to "help" Catherine fail by frustrating her agenda. On Aunt Elizabeth's advice, Peter asks Catherine what she would change about him and agrees to curb his propensity for violence. This lasts until Peter becomes enraged at Tarzinsky for calling him a "dickhead" and stabs him to death in the palace courtyard.|
|13||3||"Alone at Last"||Zetna Fuentes||Tony McNamara||November 19, 2021|
|Catherine awakes from a nightmare about Leo, who she refuses to let herself mourn. She punishes Peter for killing Tarzinsky by locking him in his rooms, despite his protests to go truffle hunting, an activity he remembers bonding with his father over in childhood. Desperate to leave Russia, Georgina convinces Catherine to exile her and Grigor to France, much to Peter's disappointment. Trying to avoid dreaming about Leo, Catherine takes drugs to stay awake and, in a manic state, appoints Father Basil as Archbishop of Russia. Pressured by his intimidating uncle Vanya, Orlo takes advantage of Catherine's intoxication to convince her to build a road in his impoverished home state. Peter, locked in a room with the body of his dead mother, becomes increasingly angry with how she treated him, and eventually breaks her glass coffin and accidentally destroys her corpse. After a confrontation with Catherine where he angers her by casually mentioning Leo's death, Peter escapes to the woods to go truffle hunting. He is caught by Velementov, who reminds Peter that he, not Peter's father, took him truffle hunting as a child. Peter begins to come to terms with his parents' neglect and abuse. Catherine takes Peter's dog into the woods, and accidentally comes across the clearing where she said goodbye to Leo and bursts into tears. Consoled by Marial and Elizabeth, she allows herself to admit that she could not have saved him. Grigor, feeling that Peter needs him, stops the carriage enroute to Paris and returns to the palace without Georgina.|
|14||4||"The Devil's Lunch"||Zetna Fuentes||Tami Sagher||November 19, 2021|
|Catherine grows increasingly sexually frustrated as her pregnancy continues. Peter gains Catherine's reluctant permission to throw a Baby shower for their unborn son, Paul in exchange for ceasing his efforts with Gregor to remind the court how fun his reign was. Velementov insists that Russia should go to war with the Ottoman empire, but Catherine is reluctant to start a war. Sundak, an Ottoman ambassador and an old friend of Peter's, comes to meet with Catherine, who has a dim view of the Ottoman's misogynistic culture. She challenges him at their first meeting by arranging the room to imply she has an all-female counsel of close advisors, but he is unruffled by the implied insult. Velementov begins an affair with Lady Svenska, who is secretly spying for Peter, and lets slip that war with the Ottomans is a possibility. Catherine and Peter try to win Sundak to their cause, which is complicated by Peter's jealousy of Catherine's interest in the handsome Sundak. Meanwhile, Archie attempts unsuccessfully to ingratiate himself with Catherine on Marial's advice, and Marial begins an affair with a depressed Grigor. Peter attempts to undermine Catherine and Sendak's relationship by throwing a raucous Baby Shower, but Catherine outwits him by taking over the party and impressing Sundak on a hunting trip the next day. Sundak leaves after a peace agreement has been reached, but Arkady and Tatyana, believing it will advance Peter's cause, intercept Sundak's carriage and kill him. After a failed attempt to have sex with a guard, Catherine is manipulated by Elizabeth into taking advantage of Peter's skills in cunnilingus.|
|15||5||"Animal Instincts"||Matthew Moore||Tony McNamara||November 19, 2021|
|Catherine immediately regrets her sexual encounter with Peter, but he is thrilled that she shows signs of returning his affection, to Elizabeth's delight and Grigor's frustration. Elizabeth counsels him to make himself a mystery to Catherine, and he successfully intrigues her by playing hard to get. The court is thrown into alarm when a crocodile mysteriously begins roaming the palace and attacks Elizabeth, wounding her leg and eating her pet mouse. Catherine dismisses the superstitious nobles who believe the giant lizard to be a demon or a supernatural omen, but becomes frustrated when Father Basil tells the court that the creature may indeed be a sign from God. Archie announces that as Patriarch, only he can discover the meaning of the "omen", and Catherine realizes that he has planted the creature himself. He blackmails her by threatening to proclaim that the lizard is a sign that God condemns her reign unless she agrees to revoke religious freedom, remove Father Basil from power and "meet God." Catherine asks Peter, an excellent hunter, to search the Palace for the lizard with her, but he ignores an opportunity to kill the beast to spend more time with her. Catherine agrees to Archie's demand, and he takes her to "meet God" through the use of psychedelic mushrooms. Although the two see different visions, they recognize their mutual hope for a better Russia and find common ground. Meanwhile, Marial encounters an elderly serf, Shakey, who she shared rooms with during her time as a servant. Learning that Shakey has been declared to old to work, Marial takes reluctant pity on the old woman and takes her on as a maid. Catherine is able to capture the crocodile using opium-laced mice, but when she presents the captured animal to the court, the nobles panic when it starts to wake up and stab it to death. That evening, she agrees to dance with Peter, sharing a romantic moment with him that she abruptly stops, uncomfortable with her growing interest in him.|
|16||6||"A Simple Jape"||Matthew Moore||Tony McNamara & Gretel Vella||November 19, 2021|
|In the middle of a tryst, Peter and Catherine argue when he accuses her of using him for sex and she refuses to admit she loves him. They angrily call off their current arrangement. After being confronted by members of her girl's school who think she is not changing the system quickly enough, Catherine resolves to free all the serfs. Orlo cautions patience, but the impatient Catherine decides to play a "jape" on the court to prove her point. She disguises Shakey as a member of the aristocracy at a party, and introduces her as "Lady Anastasia." Lady Svenska is fooled and charmed by the old woman, but horrified when Catherine announces Shakey's true identity. Meanwhile, Father Basil takes his leave of Archie, condemning his political gamemanship in a passionate speech. Archie suddenly kisses Basil, an act that leaves him shaken and confused. Grigor, realizing that Catherine's stunt has greater implications, forces Orlo to give him Catherine's plans for liberating serfs at gunpoint, and uses them to turn the nobles against Catherine. This goads Catherine into proclaiming immediate freedom for the serfs, and Peter takes advantage of the situation to urge the nobles to call for Catherine's abdication. He plans to escape his rooms with the help of a body double, Pugachev, and take Catherine hostage. The palace serfs rebel against the nobles, and in the resulting chaos, Marial discovers that Lady Svenska has murdered Shakey for her part in the jape. Catherine's advisors call on her to put an end to the violence, but she cannot bring herself to fire on her own people and orders them out of the room. Peter bursts into Catherine's office with a gun, but when he finds her weeping alone at her failure, he comforts her and willingly returns to his captivity. Catherine reluctantly orders Velemntov to subdue the rebellion. After the violence is over, Marial shoots Svenska in the head, killing her in revenge for Shakey.|
|17||7||"Stapler"||Ally Pankiw||Tony McNamara||November 19, 2021|
|Catherine hosts a science contest for new inventions. Marial hopes this will snap her out of her negative existential mood. Peter decides that he does not want to be Emperor and plans to support Catharine, enraging and confusing Grigor. Peter tells Catharine he does not wish to be Emperor and offers to help with the science contest by attempting to create an invention to enter. Peter and his followers kidnap a scientist en route and steal his invention, a cold box. Catherine feels disillusioned with her supporters and team when they abandoned her side during the serf rebellion. Archie struggles over his recent kiss with Basil and confesses these feelings to Marial. Grigor conspires to force Catharine to abdicate to Peter. Catherine's mother, Princess Joanna, arrives to visit. While excited, Catharine feels belittled by the updates on her siblings' successful marriages and faces disapproval from her mother for her coup and keeping Peter alive. Joanna continues to disapprove and accurately read and dress down the members of court for attempting to take advantage of Catherine's naive optimism. Orlo steals money from the treasury to support his family in their home region. Aunt Elizabeth warns Peter that he must gain Joanna's approval, but he dismisses her concerns. Catherine immediately susses out that Peter has kidnapped the scientist from Norway but goes along with the plan to win the science contest. Joanna is fascinated and horrified by Peter when they meet but then lightly seduces him and informs Catherine she is aware the cold box/fridge is missing. A serf approaches Catherine with a new idea for an invention for the science contest, a rollercoaster, which Joanna disapproves of.|
|18||8||"Seven Days"||Ally Pankiw||Tony McNamara||November 19, 2021|
|Joanna has an allergic reaction to peanuts brought from the Americas, causing Catherine to feel immense guilt. Joanna gives Catherine a list of individuals she feels should be killed for Catherine to succeed, including Aunt Elizabeth and Marial. Later, Joanna tries to seduce Peter, arguing that it is not cheating as they are family and would simply be making each other happy. Elizabeth again warns Peter not to have sex with Joanna. After a medical exam, Elizabeth pronounces that Catherine's baby will be born in 7 days. The court begins preparations involving rituals for Peter and Catherine. Because of this, Catherine tries to run the country while on forced bed rest. Peter is taken into the woods to dig graves for his wife and child ceremoniously should they die in childbirth. Catherine is inspired by hearing from the noble ladies to change laws regarding women when the Ottoman Empire sends word they are open to diplomatic talks, which turns out to be an assassination attempt. Joanna tries to seduce Peter again, and her long game is revealed: she wants Peter to take power again to reinstate her plan for another daughter to marry the French monarch, while Catherine would simply raise the baby as heir to Russia. Catherine is disillusioned with her mother. Joanna finally seduces Peter as he gives in to her advances; during their sexual encounter, Joanna falls out of the window and dies. Elizabeth, Peter and Marial hide the body and make it appear that she left suddenly. Peter and Catherine reconcile and Peter hides Joanna's death from Catherine as she goes into labor.|
|19||9||"Walnut Season"||Colin Bucksey||Tony McNamara & Gretel Vella||November 19, 2021|
|Catherine gives birth to Paul I of Russia. 6 weeks later, Peter is avoiding Catherine and Russia has gone to war with the Ottoman Empire. King Hugo of Sweden and his wife arrive after being run out of Sweden as democracy takes hold. Grigor's wife returns to court and tries to ingratiate herself with Catherine and win Grigor back. Marial's father dies, leaving her future in jeopardy as her nephew Maxim arrives to claim the family inheritance. King Hugo attempts to convince Catherine to lend him the Russian army to retake Sweden, but she is preoccupied; King Hugo then develops a plan to overthrow Catherine so that Peter gives him the army. Peter accidentally informs Elizabeth that his mother drowned her son; Elizabeth kidnaps Paul and goes to her country estate. Catherine and Peter travel there to retrieve Paul and Peter continues to avoid telling her the truth about her mother. Archie struggles with his sexual feelings while Marial tries to find a husband. Elizabeth appears to have a psychotic break over her grief for her son, calling Paul by her son's name "Igor". Catherine and Peter convince Elizabeth to return to court with them; Catherine confesses her feelings for Peter and they reconcile. Marial decides to marry her nephew to keep her estate and continues her affair with Grigor. Archie reveals that Orlo stole money from the treasury; Orlo leaves the court in disgrace. Grigor accidentally confesses to Marial about peter's part in Joanna's death.|
|20||10||"Wedding"||Colin Bucksey||Tony McNamara & Fiona Seres||November 19, 2021|
|Marial plans her wedding as the Ottomans agree to meet Catherine. Marial confesses that Peter had sex with and then accidentally killed Joanna, and Catherine's world is shattered. Catherine goes to the front for the war. Grigor reasons out that Marial informed Catherine about Joanna's death. Peter and his supporters plot how to get him out of the mess they find themselves in. Catherine and Peter ruminate on their present predicament- to kill and have the throne or forgive. Catherine enacts her plan to meet with the sultan- she ends up killing him and has her hand stabbed; she and Elizabeth flee. Peter's supporters try to stage another coup. Catherine's courtiers argue about the best path forward. Peter attempts to flee with Paul but returns to leave the baby. King Hugo tries to convince Peter to kill Catherine. Elizabeth and Catherine argue about Peter's actions and Catherine's philosophy. At Marial and Maxim's wedding, tensions run high as both Peter and Catherine arrive and confront one another. Velamentov arrives at the wedding and arrests several nobles on Catherine's orders, including Marial, Grigor, and others. Catherine enters Peter's apartments and stabs who she thinks is Peter, only realizing when Peter enters that it was his double, Pugachev. Catherine and Peter uneasily look at each other.|
The series is based upon Tony McNamara's play revolving around Catherine the Great, which premiered at the Sydney Theatre Company in 2008. McNamara also wrote a film adaption of the play, "It had been a play and a film, and I was always struggling with the fact it was such a massive story for a film. I wanted to tell it as a story that goes for years and years." The series was initially pitched as having six seasons, having planned to introduce key historical figures in Catherine's life as the series continued.
On August 24, 2018, it was announced that Hulu was close to giving a pilot order to a miniseries about Catherine the Great. The series was written by Tony McNamara who also served as an executive producer alongside Elle Fanning and Marian Macgowan. Production companies involved with the pilot consist of Media Rights Capital, Echo Lake Entertainment, and Thruline Entertainment. On November 20, 2018, it was reported that Matt Shakman was directing the pilot. On February 11, 2019, it was announced during the Television Critics Association's annual winter press tour that Hulu had given the production a series order. On July 2, 2020, Hulu renewed the series for a second season. On January 11, 2022, Hulu renewed the series for a 10-episode third season.
Alongside the initial pilot announcement, it was confirmed that Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult had been cast in the pilot's lead roles as Catherine the Great and her husband Peter III of Russia, respectively. In November 2018, it was announced that Phoebe Fox, Sacha Dhawan, Charity Wakefield, and Gwilym Lee had joined the cast of the pilot. In January 2020, Sebastian De Souza, Adam Godley, and Douglas Hodge were added to the cast. On May 14, 2021, Gillian Anderson was cast in a guest starring role as Johanna, Catherine's mother.
Principal photography for the pilot episode had commenced by November 2018 in York, England with other filming locations expected to include Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Hever in Kent. The main filming locations were Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire and the Royal Palace of Caserta in Italy. The loggia on the lake at Hever Castle doubled as the location for a Russo-Swedish peace conference. The fields of the St Clere Estate near Sevenoaks in Kent were used to stage battle scenes in episodes five and seven. Filming for season two began on November 4, 2020 and ended on July 17, 2021.
The series premiered in the United States on May 15, 2020.
In Australia, all episodes were released on Stan on May 16.
The series airs on Channel 4 and StarzPlay in the UK. It was released on StarzPlay 18 June 2020  and on Channel 4 on 3 January 2021.
StarzPlay also distribute the series in Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Benelux, Latin America and Brazil. More.tv broadcasts the show in Russia, Sky in New Zealand, and Amazon Prime Video in Canada.
The second season premiered on November 19, 2021 in the US, and on the same day in Canada, for Amazon prime.
Starzplay premiered the second season 5 December 2021 in the UK.
Hulu has described "The Great" as "anti-historical" and the series' title sequences declare it to be an "occasionally true story". According to "Los Angeles Times" critic Robert Lloyd, "McNamara had jotted down some names, relationships and a few historical bullet points, torn up the paper, and started writing. And so must the viewer abandon himself to what's on the plate without a care to learning anything useful or even true about Russia or any of the real people represented here."
|1||88% (84 reviews)||74 (33 reviews)|
|2||100% (25 reviews)||86 (7 reviews)|
The first season received mostly positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 88% based on 83 critic reviews, with an average critic rating of 7.51/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Great can't quite live up to its namesake, but delicious performances from Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult and a wicked sense of humor make it a pretty good watch." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 74 out of 100 based on 33 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
On Metacritic, the second season has a weighted average score of 86 out of 100 based on 7 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a "Certified Fresh" 100% approval rating based on 24 reviews, with an average critic rating of 8.40/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Great continues its revisionist reign stronger than before thanks to its addictive wit and marvelous cast − huzzah!".
|2020||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series||Matt Shakman (for "The Great")||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||Tony McNamara (for "The Great")||Nominated|
|TCA Awards||Outstanding New Program||The Great||Nominated|||
|Individual Achievement in Comedy||Elle Fanning||Nominated|
|2021||American Society of Cinematographers Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Motion Picture, Miniseries or Pilot Made for Television||Anette Haellmigk (for "The Great")||Nominated|||
|Artios Awards||Television Pilot and First Season – Comedy||Rose Wicksteed||Won|||
|Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Awards||Best Comedy Series||The Great||Nominated|||
|British Academy Television Craft Awards||Best Make-Up & Hair Design||Louise Coles, Sarah Nuth, Lorraine Glynn and Erin Ayanian||Nominated|||
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Comedy Series||Nicholas Hoult||Nominated|||
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||The Great||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Nicholas Hoult||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Elle Fanning||Nominated|
|Gotham Independent Film Awards||Breakthrough Series – Long Form||Tony McNamara, Marian Macgowan, Mark Winemaker, Elle Fanning, Brittany Kahan Ward, Doug Mankoff, Andrew Spaulding, Josh Kesselman, Ron West and Matt Shakman||Nominated|||
|Independent Spirit Awards||Best Female Performance in a New Scripted Series||Elle Fanning||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Villain||Nicholas Hoult||Nominated|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series||Elle Fanning||Won|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Belinda Bromilow, Sebastian de Souza, Sacha Dhawan, Elle Fanning, Phoebe Fox, Bayo Gbadamosi, Adam Godley, Douglas Hodge, Nicholas Hoult, Louis Hynes, Florence Keith-Roach, Gwilym Lee, Danusia Samal and Charity Wakefield||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series||Nicholas Hoult||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Comedy Series||Vanessa Alexander, Tony McNamara, Tess Morris, Amelia Roper, Gretel Vella and James Wood||Nominated|||
|Episodic Comedy||Tony McNamara (for "The Great")||Won|
|2022||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Comedy Series||The Great||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Comedy Series||Nicholas Hoult||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Comedy Series||Elle Fanning||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||The Great||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Nicholas Hoult||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Elle Fanning||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Julian Barratt, Belinda Bromilow, Sacha Dhawan, Elle Fanning, Phoebe Fox, Bayo Gbadamosi, Adam Godley, Douglas Hodge, Nicholas Hoult, Florence Keith-Roach, Gwilym Lee, and Charity Wakefield||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series||Elle Fanning||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Episodic Comedy||Tony McNamara (for "Alone at Last")||Won|||
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Excellence in Period Television||Sharon Long (for "Seven Days")||Won|||
|Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design for a One-Hour Period or Fantasy Single-Camera Series||Francesca di Mottola (for "Dickhead", "Seven Days", "Wedding")||Nominated|||
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