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Historical Inaccuracies in Television

Z Wartski
Alexcina (Z) Wartski
Faculty Adviser(s)

Historical dramas on streaming services are a popular genre. Through historical dramas, the audience can transport themselves back into a time period. There, they can look at that time with rose-tinted glasses, and avoid the harsh realities of the era. However, much of the information found in these series is inaccurate and overly dramatized. Episodes of these shows are riddled with intimate love-making scenes, gruesome tortures and deaths, and vastly exaggerated events.

Two groups of historical figures that Netflix writers have dramatized, the Borgia and Medici families, are examples of figures that have also been grossly misrepresented throughout history. These families were powerful forces in the Catholic church from the mid-fifteenth century until the sixteenth century. While these two families were constantly at odds socially, they were similar in their scandalous and calculating methods. The Borgias were so corrupt and ruthless that they were excluded and purposefully erased from much of the Church’s history, and then treated almost as if the family never existed.

My research demonstrates that I have analyzed programs based on the lives of these two prominent families and have identified major historical inaccuracies. I found the drama The Borgia’s to have the greatest historical discrepancies, from main characters who were barely mentioned in history, to the fabrication of whole new personalities. In this presentation, I will show that what you see on television is not always correct.


Alexcina (Z) Wartski is a senior at Salem College majoring in Communications and Media Studies as well as History with minors in Race and Ethnicity Studies and Sociology. She is also a member of the Honors program. She is from Hillsborough, NC and is attending graduate school next year for History with a concentration in Museum Studies.