Is Aabis from The Serpent Queen Based on a True Story?

The historical drama ‘The Serpent Queen,’ broadcast on Starz, recounts the life of the infamous Catherine de Medici and focuses on the circumstances surrounding how she came to hold the title of “Queen of the Serpent.” The show depicts a treacherous game that takes place in the French court during the 16th century and illustrates how one bad move can lead to a person’s downfall. This is true for the aristocracy just as much as it is for the common people. In a manner quite similar to that of Catherine, the people who are in close proximity to her are attempting to use her position in order to enhance their own lives. Aabis is one of the individuals in question. Aabis was first someone who Catherine believed she could rely on, but she quickly became someone that Catherine resented and became an object of Catherine’s jealously. This makes things more difficult for each and every one of them. Because of the dynamic of their connection, you could find yourself questioning whether or not someone like Aabis actually did live around the same era as Catherine de Medici. Is she modelled after a particular historical figure? Let’s find out.

The Serpent Queen
The Serpent Queen

Is There Any Basis in Reality for the Character of Aabis?

When Catherine of Medici travelled to France, she was accompanied by a sizable group of courtiers and attendants. Everyone from servants to perfume manufacturers, painters to hair stylists, courtiers to dressmakers, and so on was included in this category. The decision to just concentrate on Catherine’s close circle and to avoid the needless crowding of characters in ‘The Serpent Queen’ resulted in only a very restricted number of people who accompanied her being seen in the film. This was a creative choice. The fact that Catherine chose to tell her story using Aabis rather than any of the other persons who had travelled with her in real life could lead one to believe that Aabis plays a significant role in the narrative, but this is not the case. Although the drama features characters based on real people, such as Cosimo Ruggeri, Aabis is not one of them. Since there is no mention of a person named Aabis in any historical account of Catherine’s life, this indicates that the character of Aabis was invented solely for the purposes of the production.

The struggle to maintain one’s own existence is “The Serpent Queen’s” overarching theme. Even though Catherine is the protagonist of the plot, everyone else is driven by the ambition to maintain their position in the court and preserve their own lives during the course of the drama. Aabis, like everyone else, is compelled by the same urge. Her Ottoman heritage and the fact that she is a Christian convert in a nation that is itself in the midst of religious upheaval both position her in the position of an outsider in this society. Even though she is under Catherine’s protection, the two of them have a tense relationship, and the primary reason for this is that Aabis is more attractive than Catherine. The entirety of the circumstance is incredibly challenging for her, but she is a fighter and will prevail no matter what comes her way.

Amrita Acharia, who played the role of Aabis in ‘The Serpent Queen,’ said that the character was “very fluid” in terms of both her allegiances and her sexuality while discussing her role in the film. Aabis’s actions, similar to those of everyone else in the programme, are “very much anchored in a drive to acquire something,” whether that item is an emotional need or if it is a very political move. This is especially true of the women in the show. It’s not just there for the entertainment of your viewers or the entertainment of the men around the story; it’s actually a very powerful move that you can choose to make or not make.” I think it places sex as a chess piece in the game, where it’s not just there for the entertainment of your viewers or the entertainment of the men around the story.

Aabis is savvy enough to use her attractiveness into an asset, but this ability has the unintended consequence of straining her friendship with Catherine. “Because of where they stand in the pecking order of the narrative and the events that have transpired in the past, there will undoubtedly always be some type of gap between them. Amrita explained that the only thing that these people can put their faith in is the possibility that anyone could betray them. Aabis, the main character of the show, might be based on a specific real-life person; however, the writers of the show have portrayed her in a way that is rather realistic and true to the character of a person who is attempting to do their best to survive in those times. Considering all of this, it is clear that while Aabis might be based on a specific real-life person, the writers of the show have portrayed her in.

Plot

Catherine de’ Medici is the protagonist of this book. She is an orphan who marries into the French court as a teenager expecting to bring in a fortune in dowry and create heirs, but instead she learns that her husband is in love with an older woman who is unable to bear children. She is successful in maintaining her marriage while also ruling France for a period of thirty years.

Cast and characters

Main

  • Samantha Morton as Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France
    • Liv Hill as Young Catherine
  • Amrita Acharia as Aabis, a Christian convert who is part of Catherine’s entourage
  • Barry Atsma as Montmorency, a member of King Francis’s privy council
  • Enzo Cilenti as Cosimo Ruggeri, an Italian fortune teller
  • Sennia Nanua as Rahima, a servant girl
  • Kiruna Stamell as Mathilde, Catherine’s dwarf maid
  • Nicholas Burns as Antoine de Bourbon
  • Danny Kirrane as Louis de Bourbon
  • Beth Goddard as Antoinette de Guise
  • Antonia Clarke as Mary, Queen of Scots
  • George Jaques as Francis II

Recurring

  • Ludivine Sagnier as Diane de Poitiers
  • Paul Chahidi as Charles de Bourbon, another member of the privy council
  • Navid Negahban as Claude, Duke of Guise, the third member of the privy council
  • Alex Heath as Young Henri, second son of King Francis who marries Catherine
  • Ruby Bentall as Angelica, daughter of a famed perfumier
  • Louis Landau as Dauphin Francis, King Francis’s firstborn son
  • Naomi Battrick as Anne d’Etampes, King Francis’s mistress
  • Colm Meaney as King Francis
  • Charles Dance as Pope Clement VII
  • Adam Garcia as Sebastio, Catherine’s atelier
  • Rebecca Gethings as Queen Eleanor
  • Memet Ali Alabora as Sultan Suleiman
  • Raza Jaffrey as François de Guise, Claude’s son
  • Ray Panthaki as Charles de Guise, Francois’s son

Development

Samantha Morton plays the role of Catherine de’ Medici, a French queen who reigned in the 16th century and is the subject of the American television series The Serpent Queen, a historical drama set in that era. It was conceived by Justin Haythe, and the non-fiction book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France by Leonie Frieda, which was published in 2004, served as the inspiration for it. On September 11, 2022, the first episode of the series was shown on Starz.

In February of 2021, Starz gave the go-ahead for an eight-episode series that would be based on the book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France written by Leonie Frieda. Justin Haythe was slated to serve as both the show’s writer and executive producer, and Francis Lawrence and Erwin Stoff were also slated to serve in these capacities. Stacie Passon will direct various episodes of the series, including the pilot, over the course of the show’s run. The television production companies that were going to be participating in the series were going to be Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment.

The Serpent Queen
The Serpent Queen

Casting

Samantha Morton made her debut as Catherine de’ Medici in April of 2021 after being cast in the role.

Amrita Acharia, Enzo Cilenti, Barry Atsma, Nicholas Burns, and Danny Kirrane joined the cast in starring roles in May 2021. Charles Dance, Ludivine Sagnier, Liv Hill, Kiruna Stamell, and Colm Meaney were added to the cast in a recurring capacity at the same time. Ray Panthaki made his debut in the role of a series regular in June of 2021. It was revealed in August 2021 that Raza Jaffrey, Sennia Nanua, Beth Goddard, and Alex Heath had joined the cast of the series in unknown roles, starring roles, and recurring roles, respectively.

Filming

April of 2021 marked the beginning of principal photography.

Broadcast

On September 11, 2022, Starz broadcast the first episode of The Serpent Queen.

Reception

On the website Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates reviews from many sources, all 11 of those critics gave the movie positive reviews, with an average rating of 7.9 out of 10. The general sentiment expressed on the website is summed up as follows: “The Serpent Queen dramatises one of history’s most infamous queens with a subtle, satirical touch, with Samantha Morton’s commanding star turn sure to absorb viewers’ attention whole.” The website Metacritic, which employs a weighted average to determine scores, gave it a score of 78 out of a possible 100, which indicates that “generally positive reviews” were given.

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