Skip to content Skip to footer

The Regime

Oscar-winner Kate Winslet leads this dark HBO comedy about the decline of a fictional European dictatorship

Flip through the pages of your local newspaper or turn the television to your preferred news network and you’ll see it: a plethora of stories chronicling the ins and outs of national politics. Oftentimes, the politics are related to your own nation, but in order to understand one’s own country’s goals, desires and needs, the news must also look abroad. While these updates and articles centre exclusively on real-world issues in a 24-hour news cycle context, one incisive, outrageous dramedy is going above and beyond to bring real concerns into a scripted environment.

The Regime, a new miniseries from Will Tracy — whose previous writing credits include Last Week Tonight With John Oliver and Succession — takes an in-depth look at the intricacies and concerns that come hand in hand with an authoritarian government. Created as a darkly comedic peek behind the curtain of fascism in the making, HBO’s much-anticipated political satire premieres this Sunday.

The Regime on HBO Canada. Pictured: Hugh Grant as Chancellor Elena’s chief rival, the Leader of the Opposition.
Miya Mizuno/HBO

Previously operating under the working title The Palace, The Regime stars Oscar- and Emmy-winner Kate Winslet, returning to HBO after acclaimed limited series Mildred Pierce and Mare of Easttown, in the role of Chancellor Elena Vernham. Although that title has often been associated with Germany, Winslet’s “chancellor” is the sinister and darkly comedic leader of a wholly fictional country. As a teaser trailer illustrates, the titular regime is determined to see “a new Europe without limits [and] without cruelty,” but what that means for the regime is wildly different from what that means for the average citizen.

According to HBO, the show “tells the story of a year within the palace of a modern European authoritarian regime as it unravels,” and who better to tell that story than the people behind some of the most successful business and political dramas of recent years: Succession and The Crown.

The Regime on HBO Canada. Pictured (at left) Andrea Riseborough as the “Palace Manager,” Elena’s closest confidante.
Miya Mizuno/HBO

Brought to life by directors Stephen Frears (The Queen) and Jessica Hobbs (The Crown), creator Tracy made sure to bring many talented satirists into the writers’ room with him. Helping realize his vision for a dark and satirical political dramedy are old HBO colleagues Gary Shteyngart (Succession) and Juli Weiner (Last Week Tonight), as well as Jen Spyra (Our Cartoon President), Sarah DeLappe (Bodies Bodies Bodies) and Seth Reiss, with whom Tracy co-wrote delectable horror satire The Menu.

In front of the camera, Winslet is joined by big-name stars Hugh Grant, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts and Martha Plimpton.

The Regime on HBO Canada. Pictured: Raising Hope alum Martha Plimpton as the U.S. secretary of state.
Miya Mizuno/HBO

While The Regime takes place in a fabricated Middle European nation, several locations in the series may look familiar to Austrian viewers, or those who have previously visited that country’s capital of Vienna. The city, which was used as the primary filming location, is filled with Baroque architecture and an old-world European vibe that provides The Regime with a perfect setting, complete with grandiose abodes and lush greenery. Chief among these edifices is Liechtenstein Garden Palace, which is today part of the Liechtenstein Museum, on the Fürstengasse, in Vienna’s ninth district; per German-language online newspaper Kurier, the Garden Palace is, in fact, where much of the show was filmed.

While travellers may be taken with the backdrop, movie buffs will recognize the sardonic, over-the-top dark humour from Tracy and Reiss’s The Menu. A deeply critical commentary on the absurdity and pomp of the modern luxury dining experience, if The Menu is any indication of Tracy and Reiss’s writing style, The Regime is bound to be a scathing reflection of international politics.

Vulture writer Justin Curto perhaps put it best when he called Winslet’s performance “deeply unserious” and touted The Regime as the perfect thing “to fill the Succession-size hole in your watching schedule.”

The Regime on HBO Canada. Pictured: Red Sparrow star Matthias Schoenaerts as Corporal Herbert Zubak, a lowly soldier invited into Elena’s inner circle.
Miya Mizuno/HBO

Curto went on to list the most notable pieces of the HBO trailer, such as the Chancellor “enlist[ing] a nobody military guy [Schoenaerts] to her inner circle as she navigates her political friends and foes,” the latter of which appears to include a politician from America, played with poise and dignity by Plimpton. The Vulture writer also notes that the teaser sees our troubled Chancellor face “hard questions from children, [dance] in a Christmas number, and . . . get gravely ill.”

The Regime premieres Sunday,March 3, on HBO Canada

Leave a comment

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Ritatis et quasi architecto beat

Whoops, you're not connected to Mailchimp. You need to enter a valid Mailchimp API key.