Before ending with a mostly empty gesture of solidarity, “Six” simplifies and updates many of these women, transforming Anne Boleyn, a shrewd political actress, into a girl of good times, framing Katherine Howard, a blatant victim of abuse, like a barely legal tease. (âLock Up Your Husbands, Lock Up Your Sons / K-Howard is here and the fun begins.â) Costume design, nodding to pop standards, sexualizes every woman, associating their worth with their warmth.
In her song, Katherine Parr, Henry’s widow, reminds listeners of her accomplishments:
I wrote books, psalms and meditations,
Fought for the education of women
So that all my wives can independently study the scriptures
I even had a woman to paint my picture
Why can’t I tell this story?
Well why can’t she? Instead, the songs on “Six” center women’s relationships with Henry, emphasizing his attraction to them (or rejection of them) rather than the accomplishments of the wives. “The things these women were doing should be of historical interest, whether or not they were married to it. [expletive] man, âsaid Jessica Keene, a history teacher who studies the Tudor period.
This substitution of sexuality for excellence can extend even to more enlightened spectacles. This episode of “Dickinson’s Sewing Circle” features a dynamic cameo from Sojourner Truth, played by writer and talk show host Ziwe. Because “Dickinson” remains extremely self-aware, he jokes about Ziwe’s youthful appearance (“I’m about 66, but look good as hell”) and the sex bomb vibe. from Truth in the 19th century (“Oh, they’ll know I’m a woman in this dress”).