The Great season 2—everything you need to know about the plot, release date and cast…

The Great season 2 trailer has landed and Catherine isn't giving up yet in her quest for power

The Great Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great
(Image credit: photo: Ollie Upton / ©Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection)

The Great season 2 is drawing ever closer and if the new teaser trailer is anything to go by, fans are in for some seriously dramatic scenes as Catherine remains determined to seize Russian rule.  

With its sumptuous costumes, comedic elements and dark scenes, The Great had everything fans were looking for in a new historical drama. Depicting the early life and rise to power of the infamous Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, the Hulu show’s debut season saw her plotting to remove her husband Peter from the throne. 

And with so many questions left unanswered in *that* explosive finale, viewers were delighted to receive confirmation of The Great season 2 in July 2020. Now, just over a year later, they’ve been treated to the first glimpse of the highly-anticipated second season and it promises to raise the stakes even higher. 

But what is The Great about, what did the new trailer tease and who is joining the season 2 cast? We reveal all you need to know ahead of the hit show’s return...

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

What is The Great about? 

The Great is a comedy-drama series by Hulu that is loosely based on the life of the infamous Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, masterfully played by Elle Fanning. The show charts her astonishing rise from Prussian outsider to become the longest reigning female monarch in Russian history after first removing her depraved husband Emperor Peter from power. 

Whilst The Great is sure to excite fans of hit period dramas such as The Crown and Bridgerton, there is a definite comedic edge to the Hulu show. And though some have called for The Crown to carry a fictional warning, concerned that viewers could mistake fictional events for fact, every episode of The Great begins with the disclaimer that you are watching “an occasionally true story”. 

Elle Fanning in Hulu's The Great

(Image credit: photo: Ross Ferguson / ©Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Happy to diverge from historical events and embellish others, The Great season 1 ended with Emperor Peter III discovering his wife’s attempts to overthrow him after realizing he’s not quite the husband—or ruler—she had imagined. Instead of having her killed, however, he spares her due to her pregnancy. 

But is he the father, her lover Leo or even someone else? We'll just have to wait and see...

Who was Catherine The Great?

The real-life Catherine the Great was born Princess Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg in Prussia in 1729. As depicted in The Great, Sophie moved to Russia to marry the future Emperor Peter III, arriving at age 15, before marrying Peter a year later. From then on, she was known as Catherine, leaving her birth name behind. 

Found in the collection of State Hermitage, St. Petersburg. Artist : Rokotov, Fyodor Stepanovich

(Image credit: Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

In the early stages of The Great season 1, viewers saw a naïve Catherine hoping for Peter to actually fall in love with her, before being disillusioned. However, it seems that Catherine the Great was perhaps not quite as prone to romanticizing, with some suggesting that she was always more ambitious.

As in the show, it’s thought that in real life, Catherine also had affairs and the paternity of her son Paul was the subject of many rumors. Catherine later overthrew her husband Peter and seized control of the vast Russian Empire in 1762 and it was soon after this that the former Emperor passed away. 

Though some have since suggested that he was assassinated on her command, this has never been proved.

What is The Great season 2 release date? 

Much to the delight of The Great fans everywhere, the newly released teaser trailer has revealed an official The Great season 2 release date—and it’s not that far away! On November 19 2021, the hit show's second season will premiere on Hulu, with the exciting news being confirmed in typically dramatic style in the closing stages of the trailer. According to, it’s expected that The Great season 2 will also be available for UK fans to enjoy around a similar time on Disney+ Star.

This comes just over a year after Catherine the Great herself, Elle Fanning, took to social media to share her excitement at the drama being renewed for the highly-anticipated second series. 

Posting a hilarious snap of herself in costume as the infamous Russian Empress, Elle wrote, ‘I can’t hold it any longer! THE GREAT is renewed for a SEASON 2!!!!! Okay, now seriously @nicholashoult I’m going to get you this time…’. 

This particular sentiment about her on-screen husband would perhaps have come as no surprise to The Great fans, as Catherine and Nicholas’ marriage was hardly a fairytale romance. However, it reminds us once again that the two Russian rulers' attempts to out-manoeuvre each other will likely be even more dramatic next season. 

The Great season 2 trailer teases serious drama  

Landing just a month after Elle Fanning shared that filming had wrapped on The Great season 2, the new trailer teased some seriously suspenseful scenes. Following on from the dramatic conclusion of The Great season 1, it seems Catherine is still plotting against her dangerous royal husband. 

The trailer opens with Emperor Peter asking his wife how she is, to which Catherine responds, “At war with you, that’s how I’ve been”. And from there, the stakes only get higher, as viewers are given tantalizing glimpses of the powerful couple’s attempts to win control over Russia. 

From Peter matter-of-factly shooting an unarmed man, to a heavily pregnant Catherine watching in horror as the court fights one another, there’s no shortage of memorable moments as the pair debate whether they can successfully rule the country without resorting to violence.

And this direction is something echoed in the official synopsis for The Great season 2, which suggests that Catherine will finally get her wish to liberate Russia from her husband.

According to ET, the synopsis declares, "Catherine finally takes the Russian throne for her own -- but if she thought coup-ing her husband was difficult, it’s nothing compared to the realities of liberating a country that doesn’t want to be.”

Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult in Hulu's The Great

(Image credit: photo: Ollie Upton / ©Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection)

“She’ll battle her court, her team, even her own mother (played by guest star Gillian Anderson) in a bid to bring the Enlightenment to Russia. Meanwhile, she’ll also battle her heart as Peter slowly transitions from a much-hated husband to a prisoner? Ally? Lover?" it continues. 

“Ultimately, Catherine will learn that to change a country, you must let it change you, that there is a fine line between idealism and delusion, and that becoming 'Great' will ask more of her than she could have imagined."

With Catherine forced to question how far she’ll have to go to secure power, it seems fans will get to see a whole new side of this iconic Queen come to the fore in The Great season 2.

Who is in The Great cast?

The Great sees Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult portraying the lead couple, Empress Catherine and Emperor Peter III of Russia respectively. The talented cast also includes Midsomer Murders star Gwilym Lee as Peter’s right-hand man Grigor Dymov, Phoebe Fox as Catherine’s maid Merial and Sebastian de Souza as the Queen’s lover, Leo. 

Though it’s not yet known whether Leo will return as a character for The Great season 2, there is one new addition that fans will no doubt be looking forward to seeing on screen. 

Gillian Anderson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020

(Image credit: Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty)

It seems there’s a The Great and The Crown crossover you never knew you needed as Gillian Anderson appears in full regal attire in the recent teaser trailer. Some reports have suggested that she is set to guest star as Catherine’s mother, Princess Joanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp, though what her role could be in season 2 remains to be seen.

Fans will have to be patient as they wait for The Great season 2 to land, but it seems like it will definitely be worth it.

Until then, why not enjoy all ten episodes of The Great season 1 on Hulu or if you’re looking for something a little different, the best French Netflix shows are sure to keep you hooked!

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.