The Regime is a Maddening Ride

The Regime

The Regime on HBO. What to say? Indeed, what to say? It’s a show. It’s difficult to watch. It’s maddening to watch. It’s enraging to watch. Comedic, horrific, painful, touching even. Drama? Satire? Comedy? Historical Retelling? Dystopian? I’m not sure, all of them?

The Regime tells the story of Elena Vernham, the chancellor of a Central European autocratic state. She is insane, crafty schemer, delusional maniac, abused daughter, hapless pawn of the Super Powers? Pick your poison.

For Whom are we Rooting?

If you’re looking for something to cheer you up, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. If there is one decent person in this show it’s Agnes whose misguided loyalty to Elena is her ultimate demise.

Everyone else? No, thank you. Elena? Self-serving monster. Herbert? Abusive, violent psycho. The rational cabinet? Greedy pigs stealing from the workers at every opportunity. The husband? Simp. The opposition leader? Manipulative, arrogant prick.

A show has to have someone to like? Bah, we don’t play by those rules.

The Moral Lesson?

Good luck finding anything here. The show isn’t about lifting you up. It’s about despair. Elena, in one of her rare moments of lucidity, confesses she always ends up as back as a scared child. Well, that’s a happy thought.

The Regime Quality

Superb. The acting is top-notch from Kate Winslet’s Elena all the way down. Nobody fails here. I believe them, in all their wretchedness. The sets are superb. The music is a delight, enhancing and not leading. The cinematography is beautiful, well framed shots. The sound is clear and crisp. This is a quality show in every respect. It’s just not easy to watch.


I’m not sure I can come up with a clear conclusion here. The show is wonderful and horrible.

I’ll finish with one observation. Agnes’s son. All but stolen from her by Elena. The last we see; he is laying terrified on the floor as the revolutionaries storm the building. What happened to him? The only thing we know for sure is Elena isn’t wasting any time worrying about it. That’s Elena. That’s the show.

Tom Liberman