Binged on Black Mirror? Devoured Daredevil? Overdosed on OITNB? If you’ve asked Santa for a new show to dive into during the holidays, then Netflix may have just the thing you’re hoping for waiting under its proverbial tree–and you don’t even have to wait until Christmas Day!
Medici: Masters of Florence is the latest show from executive producer Frank Spotnitz, whose previous credits include The Man in The High Castle and The X-Files, and Nicholas Meyer, who wrote and directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Set in 15th century Florence, the shows explores the Medici dynasty–a wealthy Italian family who rose to political and later royal prominence thanks to the Medici bank, the largest in Europe at the time. The family would go on to inspire and help fund the Italian Renaissance, produce several Popes, and have incredible influence across Europe for hundreds of years.
Starring Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), Stuart Martin (Crossing Lines), and Dustin Hoffman, Medici was shot on location in Italy which adds to its amazing visual style, a hallmark of Spotnitz’s work. A look at the trailer provides us with a glimpse of a show which combines House of Cards‘ political drama, Game of Thrones‘ ambitious scope, and The Queen‘s dramatized take on real historical events. Personally, I can’t wait to dive into this world.
All eight episodes of Medici: Masters of Florence arrive on Netflix today (December 9th), and we spoke with Frank Spotnitz about the show.
GeekMom: Your new series is called Medici: Masters of Florence. What can you tell us about it?
Frank Spotnitz: This is a series about one of the most important families in the history of western civilization. The Medici not only helped fund the Renaissance in the 15th Century but their massive economic power as bankers to the pope changed the way people lived, creating economic opportunity for ordinary people when previously there was none. This series deals with all of that, but at its heart, it’s a family saga, a love story and a murder mystery about a son who has to sacrifice his dreams in order to fulfill the dreams of his father.
GM: What inspired you to tell this story?
FS: I was approached by Luca Bernabei at Lux Vide Productions in Rome, who said how personally meaningful this story was to him and his father, Ettore, who was one of the giants of post-war Italian television. He said he intended to bring the very best of Italian talent to the project and that we would shoot in the real locations in Tuscany and Florence. The ambition of it appealed to me enormously. And when I started reading and educating myself about the Medici, I saw this was a very timely and important story to tell about the sacrifices it took to build the civilization we all enjoy today.
GM: Medici is a fictionalized telling of historical events; have you taken many liberties with the history?
FS: We’ve taken one big liberty, which is asking the question “What if Gioivanni de Medici was murdered?” There is no evidence that he was–we couldn’t, in fact, determine how he died–but asking this question allows us to create a narrative drive and a way into the story that we thought would interest all audiences, not just those already interested in the Medici. We wanted to make a series that would appeal to people whether they liked historical dramas or not.
GM: The series has already premiered in Italy. How has it been received?
FS: The series was a huge success in Italy, averaging something like 7 million viewers every night, becoming the highest-rated program in two years and trending worldwide on social media each night it was shown. It was enormously gratifying.
GM: Medici will air on Netflix in the U.K. and the US as a Netflix Original. How did that relationship come about?
FS: They were one of several platforms we talked about, and we felt they were really the perfect home for us in the English-speaking world. Their audience reach is incredible, and we loved the idea that the series would be available for people to watch how they want, when they want, for a very long time.
GM: How has the experience been working with Netflix?
FS: Although we began talking to them some time ago, the deal was only announced recently, so we haven’t had a huge amount to do with each other. But we’re very excited to be partnering with them.
GM: Season two has already been confirmed; can you give us any clues about what’s coming next?
FS: We began this season with Cosimo and Lorenzo de Medici taking over the reins of the bank from their father, Giovanni. Next season, we’re going to skip ahead in time 20 years to the reign of Cosimo’s grandson, Lorenzo de Medici. He’s an incredible figure–a true Renaissance man–and it’s a hugely exciting and dramatic story.
GM: What are your hopes for the series when it is released in the States?
FS: I hope people will not only enjoy and be moved by the story, but see themselves and our world in the drama that Cosimo lives out.
GM: What can we look forward to from you in 2017?
FS: It’s another busy year! My company is called Big Light Productions and we’re based in London and Paris. In addition to Season 2 of Medici, we have a series called Ransom that premieres on CBS and Global in Canada on New Year’s Day, then will be broadcast on TF1 in France and RTL in Germany. We start filming soon on a comedy-drama series called The Indian Detective with Russell Peters. And, of course, The Man in the High Castle debuts its second season on Amazon next week.