When American audiences think of period dramas, our minds tend to go immediately to England in Tudor, Victorian, or Regency times and popular shows like Bridgerton, Victoria, Downton Abbey, or The Tudors. But that's certainly not the case with the upcoming drama Domina, a new series that aims to explore the intricacies of life in Ancient Rome - and, unlike the handful of historical pieces we've seen set in this era, will focus on the perspective of one of its most influential women.
Domina will follow the story of the extraordinary life of Livia Drusilla, following her rise to power as the first empress of the Roman Empire. Also known to history as Julia Augusta, she was the wife of Octavian, nephew of Julius Caesar, who ultimately became Caesar Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. She was also the mother of the emperor Tiberius, great-grandmother of the emperor Caligula, grandmother of the emperor Claudius, and the great-great-grandmother of the emperor Nero.
Her life certainly had no shortage of drama: She was forced to flee Italy when her first husband ended up on the wrong side of the fallout from Caesar's assassination, her father committed suicide (along with the infamous Cassius and Brutus) at the Battle of Philippi, and she lived in exile with her sons Tiberius and Drusus in the years leading up to Octavian's reign. Though both were married when they met, they divorced and wed each other - and remained married for the next 51 years.
Devils' Kasia Smutniak stars as Livia Drusilla opposite an international cast that includes Matthew McNulty as the future Emperor Augustus, Claire Forlani as Claudia Octavia, Christine Bottomley as Scribonia, Gaius’ first wife and Livia’s mortal enemy; Colette Dalal Tchantcho as Antigone, Livia’s trusted handmaid who has been granted freedom and becomes her confidant; Ben Batt as Agrippa, Gaius’ childhood friend, then general and later consul. Game of Thrones alum Liam Cunningham plays Livius, Livia’s father, alongside Isbella Rosellini as his wife Balbina.
"I’m thrilled to be playing such a complex character as Livia Drusilla in Domina," Smutniak said in a statement. "As a frontrunner in defending women's rights, she was a tough woman who was both feared and cherished and was strong enough to seal the fate of the Roman Empire."
Watch the trailer for yourselves below.
The eight-part series is airing in the U.K. as a Sky Original and will premiere here in the U.S. on cable network Epix, home to such imported dramas as Belgravia.
Domina will premiere on June 6 at 10pm.
What do you think of Domina? Would you watch more period dramas set in other eras? Let's discuss in the comments.