In the past year or so, I’ve cut back on the number of TV shows I watch. I seem to only have a few that I keep up with regularly: American Idol, The Office, and whatever Bravo reality show is on Wednesday nights (though none are as good as Project Runway). But my favorite show right now is HBO’s Rome.

I love its use of history and politics as a set for its drama, intrigue, and occasional humor. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s not afraid of a little male nudity from time to time! Last season ended with the death of Caesar. (I’m a little disappointed that the scene didn’t steal Shakespeare’s famous line, “Et tu Brute.”) I love how self-centered and cruel Atia can be (this week’s scene of her supervising the torture of a servant is typically delicious).

The friendship between Pullo and Vorenus is the heart of the show. I’ve liked Kevin McKidd since I saw him in Topsy Turvy, one of my favorite movies. McKidd is also great in Bedrooms and Hallways, in which he plays a gay man who joins a men’s group and falls in love with the seemingly straight Brendan, played by James Purefoy, who happens to play Marc Antony in Rome — clearly the English acting pool is a small one.

My favorite character has been Brutus, played by Tobias Menzies. He’s the conscience of Rome’s conniving elite. I think he’s cute and I love his accent, but he’s also a very good actor. A lesser performer would quickly make Brutus seem morose and weak. Menzies embodies his conflicted sense of honor and the welfare of the republic, which are often mutually exclusive in this series. I hope to see him in other productions.

I’ve also enjoyed Octavius, who until this week was played by Max Pirkis. Pirkis has been great in this role; he has the perfect blend of patrician arrogance and childish lack of experience. Starting this past week, Octavius is now an adult and is played by Simon Woods, who played Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice last year. Here he is in Rome:

Not only is Woods in this series now, but so is Alex Wyndham from The Line of Beauty. Again, the British pool is a small one. Hopefully, Octavius gets a little action soon — Woods is adorably cute, though I prefer him with his faux-hawk from Pride and Prejudice rather than with his Caesar cut here!

Unfortunately, this season is the last one of Rome, or so I’ve read. Apparently, it’s too expensive to produce. I really wish it would go on and on. I really enjoy the show. I don’t know what I’ll start watching once it goes off — where else can I see handsome British actors, historical intrigue, and frequent male nudity all at once? And when is someone going to produce a series that traces the politics, sexual hijinks, and social activities of the Restoration/late seventeenth century? Wouldn’t we all like to see Behn, Rochester, Charles II, etc. on our TV screens? Maybe Alex Wyndham could play Rochester and Simon Woods could be Etherege. It could be Rochester getting it on with his servants (instead of Atia’s bald servant buggering the other slaves).

Until someone creates that show, I’ll enjoy my new favorite Atia quote:

“It would serve you right to be gelded. And I would, you know, if eunuchs weren’t so unfashionable. Next time, if you want a boy, pick one up at the market! Everyone knows boys you pick up on the street aren’t to be trusted.”

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