Kill "Will": TNT's New Shakespeare Drama

The YouTube Thumbnail Picture

Are those groundlings or the extras from a Billy Idol music video?

Is there a single piece of Elizabethan clothing in this entire thumbnail?

Is that one of the Wachowski sisters on the left with the pink cyberpunk dreads?

Is there a God?

0:00 - 0:10: Very Angry Xylophone

The trailer starts. A woman with a sexy voice whispers "Will," just to confirm that Will is, in fact, short for William, and William is Shakespeare's first name. A woman, presumably she of the sexy voice, kisses Will Shakespeare horizontally on a bed, in the way that attractive people in movies can just float down on each other for a shot of them making out in profile.

There is a very angry xylophone in the background: TINK TINKLE TINK TINKLE


Shakespeare writes something with a quill pen because he's A WRITER

A hand with rings caresses a flagstone.

"A TNT Original Series" because they're proud of this, apparently.

0:11-0:18: Shakespeare Fun!

Voice-over, continuing: "[Torn between]....TWO FAITHS"

We get an extremely bad CGI Elizabethan playhouse and bustling townscape, which only lasts .3 seconds to avoid scarring your eyes. Will Shakespeare fords his way through a crowd of people who look like 20% Bjork, 30% Scandinavian viking metal, and 50% the Macbeth home video I made when I was 12.

When the voice-over says "two faiths," one shot of a faceless rando praying to a Catholic crucifix (Catholics were persecuted in England during the reign of the Protestant Elizabeth I) is opposed to scenes of drunken partying with strippers.

Not sure if they're implying anything about Anglicanism, or they just wanted to show you shots of people in tacky costumes making out under obviously electric lighting in extremely try-hard imitations of the Givenchy fall 2015 face jewelry because why not.


Angry xylophone continues.

0:18-0:23 : Shakespeare Straight!

Voice-over: "[Torn between]....TWO WOMEN."

Shakespeare is shown making out with a beautiful blonde minx, before another brunette woman, presumably his wife Anne Hathaway, is seen crying among the groundlings as Will notices her, shocked.

As you can see, TNT's "Will" attempts to piece together a sexual biography of Shakespeare by conflating him with the author of the sonnets, because what rich dramatic material lies in his obsession with the Dark Lady! Shakespeare was obviously torn between two women instead of between, I don't know, a woman and a man. I mean, where would people get that idea? The sonnet speaker's admiration of men was completely platonic.

I almost need to watch all of 2005's "A Waste of Shame" as penance for absorbing this 5 second scorched-earth campaign by TNT against our beloved bisexual Shakes, but I will soldier on through this heteronormative dystopia with Katy Perry costumes

[^^^ Above GIF is "A Waste of Shame," which I strongly recommend watching while you boycott "Will."]

0:23-0:40 : We Will Rock You

Xylophones cease. Shakespeare introduces himself to a guy who's probably James Burbage, and of course when he says he's "Will Shakespeare" we're supposed to pee our pants because zomg THAT SHAKESPEARE, and then there's a long


long beat, after which Burbage says, "Never heard of you,"


We then get the rousing drumbeat that's a shameless knockoff of Queen's "We Will Rock You," which is both an unintentionally adorable level of desperation and a double insult to the bisexual community by means of bringing Freddie Mercury into this. Please do not bring Freddie Mercury into this.


Some rival poet (or someone with a stack of papers in his hand) with a love-lock (probably the first actual Elizabethan fashion item I've seen) tells Shakes that "You can't just make up words!"

Probably because the first factoid most tweens learn about Shakespeare from the teacher who tells them that Shakespeare Can Be Cool™ is that Shakespeare "made up" lots of words.

0:40-1:13: EXTREME!

Marlowe's voice-over: "MONEY!"

"We Will Rock You" drum riff continues


Some poor scrub in an Amadeus mask looks through a door


There's some noob at a table with a sack over his head, which is probably going to be some edgy interrogation scene, instead of a shot-by-shot recreation of the 1598 engraving of Shakespeare's rival poet Robert Greene in winding-sheet from Greene in Conceit. If it is Greene, however, I will actually take all criticisms of this show, print them out, and eat them.

A few shots are devoted to Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays a Christopher Marlowe with uncharacteristically tamed hair (and skintight leather doublet, effacing my beloved FLUFFY POOF JACKET, why you do this?) and chest tattoos of a skull! Because he's EXTREEEEEMEE!!! I used to think Jamie was better than these roles, but if he keeps taking them, maybe he's not.

Then he murmurs icily, "Because it's all just theatre," Wow so deep tell me more.

A guy in state robes says that theatres must be destroyed and then they light stuff on fire because EXTREEEEME!!! A guy (Marlowe?) gets creamed in the face and his blood spatters the camera. Public executions. I see the producers of this series went to the John Orloff/Roland Emmerich School of How Elizabethan England Was Basically North Korea. EXTREEMMMEEE!!!!

"We Will Rock You" is replaced by an ominous trailer piano ding, and red plague crosses are painted on the doors.


1:14- 1:27 :One Man

Ah, now the trailer has entered Act III of most historical movie trailers, which I like to call the "one man/woman" movement because it involves ONE MAN (the hero) taking a stand against the HISTORICAL BAD GUYS. Will Shakespeare says that the players have created a world where a "common man can be a king" (sure, fine) and that "the time has come" to fight for their beliefs. More weapons shown. (WTF? Are the Lord Chamberlain's Men now a secret Catholic militia?)

Also, what the heck is this troupe? Some of they guys seem appropriately dressed, but:

Are they starring in the new play "Much A Douche About Nothing?" Playing the roles of Literally Every Douchebag?

Shakes then declares that their only weapons are words, which seems ridiculous considering he was just holding a sword a few seconds ago, and stood next to a dude with a gun. Also, pretty sure that Elizabethan writers DID pack heat. The dagger that killed Marlowe was his own, and Ben Jonson regularly fought, killed, and beat people up. But sure, words, whatever, whatever. Shakespeare and the actors proceed to Fight the Man. I'm starting to think that this drama will be pushing the "Elizabethan London's literary scene was full of queer people, people of color, and rebel misfits fighting for justice and rocking that glitter" aesthetic while simultaneously straightwashing Shakespeare and whitewashing the Dark Lady and featuring extras who play fictional genderbending strippers (as opposed to, I dunno, actual historical Earls) for edgy kool points.* When I imagined this film as being a Panic at the Disco! influenced fanfic of Roland Emmerich, I had in mind the movie "Anonymous," but it's looking more like "Stonewall" now, tbh.

*Note: There is a credit on "Will"'s Wikipedia page for Black actress Jasmin Savoy Brown as Italian-English court poet Emilia Bassano, who is put forward by some conspiracy theorists as the "Dark Lady", although this trailer makes it very clear the "Dark Lady" is the blonde Olivia de Jonge character. And I am just reviewing the trailer, in which Savoy Brown does not appear.


More strippers.

Shakespeare mutters some Bardolatrous thing about himself writing plays about "what is human."

It premieres July 10th on TNT.


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