2019 was a pretty rough year for television queens across the board.
Queen Daenerys became one of the most hated characters in TV history, Queen Elizabeth showed up far too late at the Aberfan disaster and Queen Calanthe threw herself off a tower with her kingdom lying in ruins. But, on the face side of the coin, there were also several queens (in the regal, drag and New York sense) who found more success in the reigning department.
Without further ado, here is a look back on the year’s TV queens, rated on their, well, queenliness.
Queen Elizabeth II from “The Crown” – 3/5 Crowns
Season 3 of “The Crown” saw Olivia Colman pick up the royal mantle during a time of great turmoil for the British people. To be fair, the crippling economic crisis of the 1960s wasn’t entirely her fault, but she let her people down in a crucial moment after the disaster of Aberfan, failed as a supportive mother to her eldest son Charles and trotted off to America with her flirtatious horse whisperer while her own family members plotted a governmental coup behind her back. Elizabeth learned quite a few lessons in Season 3, and it’s hard to crown or dethrone her at the halfway stage of her televisual rule. Three crowns out of five seems a fair assessment.
It was a pretty rough year for Queen Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals…you know the rest. She had a chance to unite the Seven Kingdoms and rule with her lover, um, nephew Jon Snow by her side, but it’s fair to say she blew it in spectacular fashion. Burning your potential capital city to the ground and flambéing thousands of your new subjects isn’t going to endear you with anyone, let alone angry “Thrones” fans. Overall, there’s no doubt Daenerys was the worst queen of the year in a field packed with some pretty terrible monarchs.
Before the eighth and final season, who would have thought that Cersei would look like the fairer, less mad queen on “Game of Thrones?” Yet after Daenerys’ rampage, the brutal reign of Queen Cersei will be looked back on fondly by what few people are left alive in the city of King’s Landing. Part of the reason why Cersei didn’t come off as badly as in previous seasons was that she really didn’t do anything, other than leave her subjects for dead in the penultimate episode. Plenty of fans joked on social media that all actor Lena Headey, who lest we forget gleaned five Emmy nominations for the role, had to do was stare out of a window and look pensive or smug at her chances of victory. For that passiveness and her hugely disappointing death, she gets a sympathy 2.5 crowns.
Queen Calanthe of Cintra from “The Witcher” – 2/5 Crown
(WARNING: “The Witcher” Season 1 spoilers to follow.) Many of you probably haven’t encountered Queen Calanthe yet, given that “The Witcher” only came out on Netflix Dec. 20, but believe me, if you thought Elizabeth’s haughty disapproval at Anne’s nighttime dalliances was bad, Queen Calanthe says, hold my flagon of mead. Episode 1 sees the paranoid ruler lose her husband in battle and her kingdom to a fierce invasion by the Nilfgaardian Empire, resulting in her pulling a Tommen and jumping from her keep’s tallest tower. Then three episodes later, in a past timeline, she tries to have a hack at the knight her daughter has chosen to wed because he looks curiously like a hedgehog. Parents, if you’re looking for a study in how not to react when your child brings their first boyfriend/girlfriend around to your castle for dinner, Queen Calanthe provides exhibit A.
Catherine of Aragon (Queen of England) from “The Spanish Princess” – 5/5 Crowns
In Season 1 of the Starz period drama, young princess Catherine of Aragon is shipped over to England to marry Prince Arthur, only for him to die suddenly and for Spain and England to start fighting each other for the umpteenth time throughout history. After a disastrous start, Catherine recovers pretty well all things considered and ends up setting her sights on prince Harry, who we all know is a tough guy to tie down in the wife department. Good luck with that in season 2 Catherine! But for now, five crowns out of five for staying alive, and promoting inclusivity with her diverse court.
Catherine the Great (Queen of Russia) from “Catherine the Great” – 2.5/5 Crowns
We’re talking about the lesser of two Catherines here. Helen Mirren ticked off another historical royal on the bingo card this year in the limited HBO series about the 18th century Russian ruler. On the plus side, she supports freeing the serfs from landowning noble overlords, but on the minus side, she murdered her husband to seize power, raises her son to be a pompous imbecile and lets the bombastic General Potemkin run roughshod over her court and fight a never-ending war with the Ottoman Empire. More like the Catherine the not so great…two and a half crowns out of five.
Yvie Oddly from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” – 5/5 Crowns
Season 11 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” saw Yvie Oddly sashay away with the crown, title and cash prize after a stunning lip sync performance of Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” carried her to, well, glory. It’s hard to forget Oddly striding onto stage in that spectacularly ornate mirrored headpiece with one face towards the crowd, before leaning back like a limbo dancer to reveal her nightmarish eye-bleeding makeup. For slaying this season of “RuPaul” from beginning to end, it’s five crowns out of five, Oddly or not.
Queens the New York City borough from “Sunnyside” – 4/5 Crowns
See what I did there? “Sunnyside” may have been untimely plucked from the schedule by NBC after only four episodes, but there’s no doubting the key role the titular Queens neighborhood plays in conveying the immigrant-centered sitcom’s important message. As creator and star Kal Penn put it to Variety, “Queens in general seemed to be the perfect location to set a show because it’s rich with comedies and stories that haven’t been told in a this-is-all-America way.” However, given that the show actually shot in on the Universal lot in Los Angeles, it’s only four crowns out of five for this Queen(s).
The Giant Bee from “Dickinson” – 4/5 Crowns
OK, bear with me on this one. In episode 3 of the Apple TV Plus show (arguably the wildest, funnest one of the bunch), Hailee Steinfeld’s Emily Dickinson and her friends get high on opium and throw their handkerchiefs in the air like they just don’t care. Suddenly, Emily starts to hallucinate that she’s dancing with a human-sized bee, voiced by Jason Mantzoukas. Granted the bee isn’t female, so it can’t technically be a queen, but given the fact Emily was buzzed (sorry) and having a royally good time with the insect, I’m sure showrunner Alena Smith would forgive me. Four crowns out of five for having a giant bee in a period drama.