The Borgias: Season 1 (2011)


Season 1
The Borgias

Critics Consensus

It's deliberately paced and its characters might be too unpleasant for some, but The Borgias is a lush period drama with high production values and intrigue to spare.



Critic Ratings: 44


Audience Score

User Ratings: 114
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Air date: Apr 3, 2011
Air date: Apr 3, 2011
Air date: Apr 10, 2011
Air date: Apr 17, 2011
Air date: Apr 24, 2011
Air date: May 1, 2011
Air date: May 8, 2011
Air date: May 15, 2011
Air date: May 22, 2011

The Borgias: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

Toss in some Corleones with your Sopranos and you've got the makings of this sumptuous Renaissance-era soap opera-costume drama. Don Borgia, er, Rodrigo Borgia, played with devilish ham by Jeremy Irons, makes like Machiavelli (who, incidentally, shows up a few episodes down the Appian Way) and maneuvers and schemes his way to the papacy to become Pope Alexander VI. And he keeps things in the family, by naming son Cesare (François Arnaud) a cardinal, putting another, Juan (David Oakes), in charge of the papal armies and pimping out daughter Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) for a political alliance.


Jeremy Irons
as Rodrigo Borgia
Holliday Grainger
as Lucrezia Borgia
David Oakes
as Juan Borgia
François Arnaud
as Cesare Borgia
Aidan Alexander
as Joffre Borgia
Lotte Verbeek
as Giulia Farnese
Colm Feore
as Cardinal Della Rovere
Derek Jacobi
as Cardinal Orsini
Peter Sullivan
as Cardinal Sforza
Sean Harris
as Micheletto
Simon McBurney
as Johannes Burchard
Ronan Vibert
as Giovanni Sforza
Ruta Gedmintas
as Ursula Bonadeo
Michel Muller
as Giovanni Sforza
Julian Bleach
as Machiavelli
Elyes Gabel
as Prince Djem
Emmanuelle Chriqui
as Princess Sancia
Steven Berkoff
as Savonarola
Edward Akrout
as French Captain
Ivan Kaye
as Duke Ludovico Sforza
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Borgias Season 1

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (23)

Somewhere, "The Godfather" author Mario Puzo is smiling.

Dec 28, 2018 | Full Review…

As deadly as the Borgias were in life, this enthralling miniseries makes them immense fun to watch.

Dec 27, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Irons is a great actor who is aware that sometimes a project calls for great bad acting, and he not only chews the scenery in The Borgias, he savors it.

Dec 27, 2018 | Full Review…

In providing an account of the Borgias' misdeeds that is engaging and lucid, if heavy on intrigue but light on contextual detail, the US cable channel Showtime has succeeded.

Dec 27, 2018 | Full Review…

The Borgias is a visually opulent history lesson but lacks the amoral aura of a psychopathic family driven to hold onto power at all costs.

Dec 27, 2018 | Full Review…

Has all the surface requirements you'd expect from a prestige production. Now all it needs is a beating heart.

Apr 3, 2011 | Full Review…

At the center of Showtime's rich new romp about bad-boy Renaissance pope Alexander VI and his immensely corrupt circle, [Jeremy Irons] is dry as ashes and wickedly funny.

Dec 27, 2018 | Full Review…

The name alone conjures up images of depravity and debauchery. So why is "The Borgias" so dreary?

Dec 27, 2018 | Full Review…

There's enough good material to keep its sacrilegious fires burning.

Dec 28, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

It's definitely a program that's impossible not to admire on a technical level and the multi-faceted work by Irons is always fascinating, but the two-episode premiere can get a bit bogged down in its Shakespearian aspirations.

Dec 27, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Borgias: Season 1

  • Jul 07, 2019
    murder incest political intrigue this show is a historical drama based on the lives and rumours of the borgia family and it manages to do it better then Netflix
  • Apr 01, 2017
    The Borgias is not only a fun and suspenseful historical series but also an effective commentary on a wide spectrum of topics from religion to prejudice to human nature.
  • Nov 16, 2016
    Production design and directing is effective and detailed.. Congrats. The script is often yawningly clichéd, especially for Jeremy Irons. Performances are engaging except for Irons. OMG - he is so awkward. He makes a meal out of every sentence. Talk about over-stressing. I may not make it past SO2E04. Irons snaps me back into reality. Damn shame, Maybe he's been on stage too long, and can't cope with the camera performance. Bloody shock'n.
  • Aug 18, 2015
    Neil Jordan's vision is intriguing and vulgar that plays off unevenly, but audiences will find many things to be interested in with this family and the individual characters that will be met with open arms (to an extent).
  • Jul 23, 2014
    An exceptionally well acted rendition of the most interesting papal family ever. The sets and costumes are the best on TV and immerse you from the first time you look at the screen. The characters are all wonderfully different and interesting and the historical aspect is great. The directing and writing is more than competent as well. Lucrezia's Wedding, The French King, and The Art of War are all excellent high points and there are no notable low points in this season.
  • Feb 15, 2014
    I've always enjoyed a good historical drama and this show sure does pack a punch. It's very interesting, has great costumes, scenery, acting, and superb direction. It's a shame it got the ax after 3 seasons.
  • Jan 19, 2014
    Impeccably written and acted, The Borgias remains both deeply thoughtful and wickedly entertaining, examining the corrupting nature of power and the lengths one may go to preserve it. Family politics, abuse of power, hypocrisy, and self-delusion are all on display in lush period detail, and the show examines each and more in some of the best writing I've seen on television. In addition, the entire cast delivers their pitch-perfect dialogue with absolute grace and confidence. Jeremy Irons in particular is utterly spellbinding, and his performance as the power hungry and conflicted Pope Alexander VI is one of the best performances to ever grace primetime TV. This show is utterly delectable, and having just finished the first season, I cannot wait to see more.

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