From the article:
"Does a great costume drama have to have great costumes? Do great costumes make a costume drama great? The answer to the first question is no, but it helps. The answer to the second is absolutely not: consider "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005), an orgy of sumptuous silk wrapped around an anorectic drama, or this year's Oscar winner for best costumes, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," which laid an overheated golden egg. The historical epics, swashbucklers and literary romances that fall under the costume-drama rubric favor kings, queens and aristocrats over the common man. Royalty may be rotten, but it always looks good.
The colors of Colonial New England, on ample display in HBO's seven-part miniseries John Adams, tend toward drab browns and grays. Let's admit it: democracy was not stylish."