Medici: Masters of Florence or I, Medici as it’s known in Italy, tells the story of Cosimo de Medici (Richard Madden) as he rises to power in Florence after his father, Giovanni (Dustin Hoffman) is poisoned. Cosimo has never been keen on being a banker which is what all the Medici men do and are good at it. Instead, Cosimo wanted to be an artist. After falling in love with a model while pursuing his art, Cosimo is forced to mary Contessina de’ Bardi (Annabel Scholey). Neither of them are happy with each other and their turbulent relationship and the investigation into Giovanni’s murder take center stage in the show. Coupled with a simmering and tense rivalry between Cosimo and Renaldo Albizzi, Medici is a show you shouldn’t miss.
It’s easy to see why Madden was chosen to play Cosimo de’ Medici. Despite the fact the real Cosimo wasn’t all that handsome, Madden dominates the screen with a seductive and restrained presence that crackles dangerously and slyly. From the beginning, it’s obvious that Cosimo is a force to be reckoned with and he delivers threats and asserts his power with a steely, blue-eyed gaze that commands your attention. In the love scene between Cosimo and Contessina when they’re first married, there is a power in him, a disconnect between himself and the act of claiming his wife that is chilling. The manipulation is obvious in everything Cosimo does and Madden plays it to perfection. Cosimo is such an interesting character.
The cast of supporting characters around Madden really bring the fire as well. No character feels underdeveloped in this series despite it only being eight episodes long. I think the strongest supporting character by far, though, is Contessina. Her and Cosimo’s relationship is the backbone of the story, at least it feels like that to me. So much hinges on them together and Scholey and Madden have a chemistry for the ages. They play off of each other so well. Not only that but Scholey stands on her own two feet and is just as fierce as Contessina as Madden is as Cosimo. It’s easy to see why their relationship was so strained.
I could go on and on about Medici: Masters of Florence. I really could and I feel like I still wouldn’t capture every emotion I have about it. The easiest thing I can say is to go onto your Netflix account and just check it out. Take a chance. It is definitely a lesser known Netflix original but just because it isn’t popular doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deserve some recognition.
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