I have been hooked on the Preraphaelite Brotherhood since I was a teenager. A print of Hunt's "Light of the World" adorned my bedroom wall for years, and Rossetti's damsels fired my adolescent imagination, in the days when one didn't talk about sex.
Living abroad, I missed the TV showing of "Desperate Romantics", but jumped on the DVD as soon as it came out. My first reaction was: "No! This is not they!" Rossetti all too often often comes across as a shallow cad, which he probably was. However, the final shot takes liberties, even with this libertine. We see him gambolling across the grass with his book of poems under his arm, having exhumed them from wife Lizzy's grave. What we are not told in the film is that he then suffered extreme guilt, which probably contributed ultimately to his substance abuse and mental breakdown. We are left at the end of the series with the feeling that he got away with living fast and loose. As far as the other characters go, Hunt's religious fervour is beautifully portrayed, and Ruskin is just how I imagine him to have been, intellectual, dignified, but lacking in masculinity. Millais comes across as priggish and boring, where he was arguably the most brilliant of the painters in question. But who the heck is Fred? It jars to have an omniscient narrator commenting on these larger-than-life figures, especially as he never existed. The women, without exception, are beautifully chosen, and, to use the Preraphaelite term, stunners.
My opinion: Once past the first episode, I suspended my disbelief, and became, yes, hooked. The whole thing is a romp, raunchy, sexy, modern, fun. The opening titles and the introductory music are superb, and there is definitely enough truth in the storyline to present a fascinating picture of these incredible men (and women). Watch it!