How to Explain 'Reign' To An Outsider

Reign is a completely crazy guilty pleasure. I don't just mean that you feel crazy guilty when watching it (though that might be true too); it's actually an insane show. It might have used history as a jumping off point, but Reign wisely chose not to be reined in by things like facts and reality, and it's all the better for it. Last week, for example, Francis the Dauphin of France was completely written out (and sorry, Team Francis, but he's still not back this week) as Mary fell for his bastard (and completely fictional) brother, Bash, whom Henry was in Rome trying to legitimize.

I love Reign. I love that it's crazy and it owns its craziness. I love that it's soapy and fun and full of gorgeous dresses and contrived love triangles that I don't even care about. I love it for all of its glorious guilty pleasure-ness. But when I tried to explain that love to my roommate, who has never seen the show, I felt like a bit of a lunatic. Below is a paraphrased transcript of my attempts to explain this week's episode, "Inquisition."

Me: [Loud squeal!]

Roommate: [Concerned and speaking from her bedroom, which is just off the living room.] What's wrong?

Me: Nothing is wrong! They finally showed what the castle ghost looks like, and she's so gross. I love it!

Roommate: …Huh?

Me: I'm watching Reign. There's a ghost in the castle, but they find out that it's not a real ghost, it's just a disfigured little girl who lives in the walls like a rodent watching people and helping them sometimes.

Roommate: How did she get there?!

Me: Well, Nostradamus also lives in the castle and his dad was asked to try to remove this birthmark thing she was born with and he tried to cut it out, but that didn't work because that's crazy so they tried to use potions to heal her and now she looks like a chemical burn victim with a giant gash on her cheek.

Roommate: Oh my gosh, ew!

Me: Yeah, I know. It's awesome. I have most of the season DVR'd if you want to catch up!

Roommate: [Polite chuckle.] I'm sure they'll add it to Netflix. I'll watch it then.

Me: Yeah, but then you have to wait until practically Season 2 and I can't talk to you about it for SO. LONG.

[Brief silence.]

Me: Oh, so anyway, the castle ghost girl was saving Mary because the queen just tried to kill her. But don't worry, that's not even a spoiler because she tries to kill Mary like literally every episode.

Roommate: [Laughs.] Okay.

Me: This time she created some kind of poison to drop into Mary's bath. I thought for sure it was acid or something, but it was just like an aroma-therapy poison to kill her as it evaporated. The queen holds a knife to her neck and waits for the poison to make her pass out. Then the queen passes out and Mary slips under the water and is about to drown and they're both just about to die there.

Roommate: Well, that sounds like a stupid plan. The queen is going to die too?

Me: Yeah, I guess she's just over it. The king has been framing her for adultery the whole episode to try to annul their marriage and make the bastard son king so that he and Mary can take over England.

Roommate: Well, that would be easy for a king. He could probably just pay anyone to say anything he wanted.

Me: Yeah. He basically does. He has all of these fake witnesses and then he brings in this guy who was banished from the kingdom years ago to handle the investigation. He does it because the queen banished him and he's her enemy, but here's the kicker: She really did have an affair. It was with the guy she banished. The banishment was just to cover up the affair but they're still in love. AND he's the real father of the kid who's currently in line to be king.

Roommate: The bastard?

Me: No, the other one. The prince.

Roommate: What? Oh man…

Me: Yeah! It's a whole thing. Oh god the castle ghost just tried to save the queen but the queen wasn't having it so she just scurried back into the walls while the castle guard burst in to save the day.

Roommate: Poor castle ghost!

Me: Yeah, she's usually just shown with a creepy burlap sack on her head so that she looks like a cheap version of the scarecrow from Jeeper's Creepers.

Roommate: That sounds frightening!

Me: …Yeah, I guess it is. She's not in it a ton though. You should still watch the show.

Roommate: I will!

[Brief pause.]

Me: Have you seen the movie Willow?

Roommate: Yeah! I love that movie.

Me: Oh good, you'll love this episode then. There's a whole subplot where they have to hide this baby girl from the queen's henchmen because she has this pagan mark on her foot. It reminded me so much of Willow!

Roommate: It sounds exactly the same.

Me: It basically is. Except the pagan mark fades away before the queen can use it to prove anything.

Roommate: Those pagans should learn to tattoo.

Me: Well, if they did, the baby might be dead.

Roommate: …Then maybe they shouldn't.

[Brief pause.]

Me: God, that was such a great episode. The previews for next week show the castle ghost in a mask! She looks like the Phantom of the Opera! Please come look at it right now! I'll pause.

Roommate: Okay! [Walks to living room.] You're right! I haven't seen her real face, but I can't imagine that's better.

Me: No, the mask is even creepier. You have to watch the show!

Roommate: I will!

Me: Of course… I guess I just spoiled a whole episode for you. You're going to get to this point and be like, "Well this is familiar… I hate Kayleigh."

Roommate: Nah, I'll probably forget everything you just told me.

Image: The CW