Philosophising about the 'S'-word: Watch… and learn
The series is set around the turn of the 16th century. It follows the Borgia family, an Italian dynasty of Spanish origin, to the pinnacle of the Roman Catholic Church and their struggles to maintain their grip on power. The beginning of the first season depicts the election of Rodrigo Borgia to the papacy through simony and bribery with the help of his son, Cesare (François Arnaud). The triumph in the papal conclave of Borgia, who becomes Pope Alexander VI (Jeremy Irons), enrages his rivals in the College of Cardinals, some of whom decide to plot against him. With the help of his family, Alexander takes on his enemies while striking alliances with other European powers to strengthen his position.
Meanwhile, Alexander’s great rival, Cardinal Della Rovere (Colm Feore), travels across Italy and France to seek allies to depose the pope. He manages to persuade King Charles VIII of France to assist him in removing Pope Alexander in exchange for supporting the King’s claim to the throne of Naples, an ally of the Borgias through marriage. Season one culminates with Charles and his army, accompanied by Della Rovere, marching to Rome and finally coming to a head with the Borgias.
The show premiered on April 3, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime in the United States. The cancellation was implied to be due to the expense of production, with plans for a two-hour wrap-up finale also scrapped. A fan campaign was started in an attempt to convince Showtime to revive the series. On August 12, 2013, it was announced that the two-hour series finale script would be released as an e-book, after it was determined that a movie would be too expensive to produce.