The Regime Review


Look for Oscar-winner Kate Winslet (The Reader, Titanic, Mare of Easttown) to land another Emmy nomination for her role in The Regime. As Chancellor Elena Vernham in HBO’s savage new dark comedy, Winslet delivers a riveting performance as an eccentric, paranoid, hypochondriac ruling over a fictional Central European nation decaying under the pressures of economic turmoil. Executive producer Will Tracy serves as showrunner and writer on this engaging, often hilarious series, no doubt still flying high off his previous success as a seasoned writer on Succession, which dominated the Emmys, and the hit film The Menu.

But Tracy’s love for boardroom brouhaha—so aptly captured in Succession—broadens here, nearly bordering on camp. That’s not a bad thing, but don’t expect much depth, even when the series attempts to wander beneath the surface. Still, if anybody can deftly walk that creative tightrope between dark comedy and social commentary, it’s Winslet. But you’ve never seen our dear Kate quite like this.

The Regime takes viewers within the walls of a modern authoritarian regime as it begins to unravel. Chancellor Vernham, constantly fretting about mold and overly concerned about her public image, turns to a gruff soldier, Herbert (Matthias Schoenaerts of Django and Amsterdam), making him an unlikely confidant. Herbert’s influence over Vernham has terrible ripple effects, resulting in Elena’s thirst for even more power. Guillaume Gallienne (The King’s Favorite), Andrea Riseborough (Alice & Jack), Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope, The Real O’Neals), and Hugh Grant (Wonka, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves), costar in a series that is wickedly fun, but may prompt deeper questions. Let’s dive in.

Hail, Kate Winslet

The Regime

The Regime


Release Date
March 3, 2024


Warner Bros. Discovery

Streaming Service(s)


  • Writer Will Tracy, who previously worked on Succession, helps deliver another fantastic script to The Regime.
  • Kate Winslet offers an excellent performance as Chancellor Elena Vernham.
  • The production design throughout the series is brilliant.

  • Audiences looking for a deeper understanding of fascism and politics won’t find it here.

The Regime never really offers a more profound understanding or solution to the issues it is raising about fascism. Instead, Will Tracy is inviting audiences to play around with Kate Winslet—chewing up scenery at every given turn—and saving deeper explanations about government, totalitarianism, and self-absorbed politicos to be explained by, say, the likes of Bill Maher on the same network. That doesn’t mar this otherwise fine series, but for deep thinkers out there, especially viewers who appreciate political comedies and dramas, it may raise a few eyebrows.

Thankfully, Winslet offers yet another fantastic performance. The actress loses herself in the role of Vernham, giving birth to a frantic autocrat we can love and loathe. It helps that Will Tracy, freed from the walls of a boardroom and corporate jet, can have great fun with the script and what he’s feeding Winslet. Chancellor Vernham and her husband (Guillaume Gallienne) live in a former hotel that the chancellor took over after toppling the previous regime, which, we’re told, was filled with a bunch of “neo-Marxist thieves” who made everybody feel hopeless.


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For her part, Vernham often comments on the deep shared love she and her country have for one another. This is done mostly through public addresses. Behind the scenes, the woman is more candid. For instance, hoping to land a significant alliance with America, Vernham is miffed to learn that top government officials opted to send a senator to her palace to speak on America’s behalf. Vernham’s response is savage.

“They’re sending me a mule. Some chairman of the Senate foreign f***ing what have you. No president, no vice president, just some frequent flyer corn f***er from the farm state.”

On the Writing and Production Design of The Regime

This is some of the finest dialogue in a series we’ve experienced this year—as sharp as it is clever. Kate Winslet is given the meatiest lines, executing them with a kind of fervor audiences may not have experienced in the actress before. She moves from the more melodic yet purposely measured deliveries to those filled with vile narcissistic pomp. One standout sequence finds Winslet’s chancellor crooning Chicago’s If You Leave Me Now—off-key and with a lisp to boot.


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Matthias Schoenaerts captures the tormented Herbert to winning ends. A weathered soldiered, his experiences in the country’s coveted cobalt mines have affected his psyche. As the episodes play out, Elena and Herbert’s sick bond grows, resulting in big twists mid-way through its six episodes and even bigger turns by the final outing. Martha Plimpton also stands out in Episode 2 as a senator visiting the chancellor. Plimpton never disappoints, but there’s something about the way she captures this kind of female American politician that lands exceptionally well. It is best to experience Hugh Grant’s character and how that factors into the story yourself. It’s a nice creative move by Will Tracy.

Other characters, perhaps those with the most depth, exist slightly on the fringe of the chancellor’s bubble. Andrea Riseborough is exceptional, playing the Chancellor’s go-to on the home front. But the woman has tired of the chancellor’s whims, and her main concern is to keep her young son healthy, a son who keeps slipping farther away emotionally and mostly into the chancellor’s inner sanctum—because having a young child nearby the chancellor looks good, you see.

Meanwhile, there’s Kave Quin’s (Trainspotting) production design, which is downright luminous—everything from the vivid greens and crimson tones and ornate and grand spacious rooms to smaller details found in food design, china, chandeliers, wallpaper. Just brilliant. All of it feeds into the frilly fascism on hand.

Take note: Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, State of the Union) and Jessica Hobbs (The Crown) take turns directing the series. Both seasoned vets, particularly with shows that have political overtones, we’re in good care here. Camera angles—low gazing up; high veering down—capture the mood, however flitty or fabulous it may be at any given moment. The few times The Regime attempts to swim deeper waters, placing its key characters, particularly Winslet’s Elena Vernham, in situations where they truly must “be real,” something feels off. We’ve already indulged entirely too much whipped cream at that point, so that creative carrot seems amiss. However, any way you spin it, The Regime is a joy to experience and the one series to watch now. The Regime premieres on Max on Mar. 3. Watch the trailer below:

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