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story.lead_photo.caption Kerry Bishe stars in Amazon’s drama series The Romanoffs.

The Romanoffs, Amazon's new drama series in which characters are descendants of Russia's royal family, has not received the best reviews.

"What's most frustrating about The Romanoffs is that there was clearly the potential for a decent show here, if it could have shed a few pounds of blubber and been given a stern talking to," Rebecca Nicholson wrote in The Guardian.

James Poniewozik, in The New York Times, called it a "series of ornate but ponderous creations, a shelf-busting set of Faberge ostrich eggs."

But one of the harshest reviews has come from an unlikely source: the Romanovs themselves (the name can be spelled both ways). Well, from at least one member of the House of Romanov: the self-declared Grand Duchess Maria of Russia.

The duchess is a resident of Spain who claims to be the rightful heir to the crown that disappeared from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. She is a great-great-granddaughter of Czar Alexander II, who was assassinated in 1881 and was a relative of Nicholas II, the czar who was killed, along with his wife and five children, by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

The duchess's chancellery (that is, her office) recently issued a news release on the show.

"The Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness concurs with the general consensus of the critics," it says. It then quotes the Rotten Tomatoes website's summary of reviews, saying the show is "fatally indulgent, asking for the utmost patience from audiences without a compelling incentive."

The Romanoffs is a drama in which each movie-length episode centers on characters who are meant to be descendants of Russian royalty but are living today, such as an elderly woman in Paris struggling to cope with a Muslim caregiver, and an American man experiencing marital problems.

The chancellery's news release said that descendants of the Russian crown have a "fascinating history" ripe for television. But the release said that Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men and The Romanoffs, had squandered the chance to present that history. Instead, the release said, Weiner has made "a series of plodding fictional stories on banal subjects of no consequence."

The chancellery would not have issued the release at all if The Romanoffs were simply dull, the release went on.

"Dullness may be disagreeable, but it seldom causes offense or insult," it said. "Alas, to the series creator's great discredit, The Romanoffs manages to do both."

The duchess's main problem appears to be the show's opening credits. These portray, somewhat comically, the murder of Czar Nicholas II and his family.

"To see the martyrdom of the Imperial Family treated as a piece of gory entertainment" -- especially in the year of the 100th anniversary of their death -- "was appalling," the news release said.

It also criticized a scene on a cruise ship where "costumed dwarfs" pretend to be the czar, his family and Grigory Rasputin, the notorious monk who befriended them.

"Surely standards of decency still count for something in the portrayal of certain events and the individuals involved," the release said.

It was unclear if the duchess's views are shared by the many other people who are -- or claim to be -- descendants of the Romanovs.

A spokesman for Princess Olga Romanoff, a great-niece of Czar Nicholas II who has appeared on reality-TV programs, said that the princess "has no comments at all concerning the Amazon series -- she hasn't seen it." Rostislav Romanov, a British-Russian painter and another descendant, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Weiner declined to be interviewed about the duchess's critiques. But her royal news release did not appear to have affected the show: New episodes have since been released.

Style on 10/30/2018

Print Headline: Romanoffs gets negative review from descendent

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