This article contains spoilers for all 10 episodes of Hulu’s The Great.
Russia in the 18th century stood on the verge of disaster, with a war raging against Sweden and its cultural and intellectual progress failing to keep pace with Western Europe’s. Yet in Hulu’s historical satire The Great, Emperor Peter III (played by Nicholas Hoult) appears untroubled. Surrounded by the comforts of royalty and the support of eager-to-please advisers, he treats the war as a nuisance, governing as a chore, and news of unrest as annoying falsehoods. As he and his subjects claim, all is bliss in the court of Peter III. When his new wife, Catherine (Elle Fanning), doesn’t approve of his lifestyle, he brushes her off with a casual retort: “It is hell to dwell.”
Truth has been similarly unwelcomed by today’s American leadership. False claims downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and suggesting a swift end to the crisis have dominated Donald Trump’s press conferences. Before states put social-distancing measures in place, he assured the nation that the virus would disappear, “like a miracle.” When it became evident that it wouldn’t, he suggested nonsensical fixes, such as injecting disinfectant into bodies as a cure. This week, he revealed that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug medical experts have warned people against using because of its dangerous side effects. Trump has treated facts as inconvenient, rejecting them in favor of minimizing the coronavirus’s impact.