LONDON (Reuters) - “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner is back with a new television series, but while this one is set far from the 1960s world of advertising, he says the themes are much the same.
“The Romanoffs” features eight contemporary drama stories about people who believe they are descendants of the Russian royal family, and a handful of “Mad Men” actors including Christina Hendricks and John Slattery.
Released on Amazon on Oct. 12, it is Weiner’s first television venture since winning nine Emmys for “Mad Men,” whose tale of restless and conflicted American ad executive Don Draper ended in 2015.
Weiner, who created, wrote and directed “The Romanoffs,” says the series looks at questions of identity, and nature versus nurture.
“Who am I? Am I entitled to more because I was born a certain way? Am I a survivor because I was born a certain way?” Weiner said of the show at its premiere in London on Tuesday.
“But even though my work is viewed that way, I really wanted to do a show that was entertaining,” he said.
“The Romanoffs” is set in seven countries, and each self-contained episode has a different cast, including Diane Lane, Corey Stoll, Paul Reiser, Isabelle Huppert and Marthe Keller.
Weiner said he was attracted to the story because of what the Romanoff name says about current notions of celebrity and fame. The Russian imperial dynasty ruled for 300 years until the 1917 Russian revolution, when 18 of them were killed and more than 40 remaining members fled abroad.
“It’s a time when we’re wondering why we used to be great,” he said. “Part of my fascination with the Romanoffs was that it (royalty) still has so much prestige.”
Early reviews for “The Romanoffs,” which will roll out on a weekly basis on Amazon, have been mixed. Variety called it “ambitious,” Rolling Stones said the episodes had “moments of brilliance amid unchecked sprawl,” and IndieWire called it “shallow and self-indulgent.”
Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Jill Serjeant, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien