“The Crown” (Netflix)

I ‘m guessing that just about everyone reading this is either in the middle of watching or has finished Season 4’s depiction of the decade-by-decade shenanigans of the British royal family. We dumped those folks over 250 years ago, but we still can’t get enough of them. If you were born before 1985 not much of this review will be a spoiler alert. Apologies in advance if that isn’t the case and I inadvertently destroy your evening in front of the telly. What I already knew– but was completely engrossed in revisiting: Margaret Thatcher was a horror. Gillian Anderson in this series and Meryl Streep in the 2011 film “The Iron Lady” provide a brilliant portrait of a person who would fit in well with our departing administration. My in-depth historical Wikipedia research seems to indicate that she really was as awful as she is depicted. But is Queen Elizabeth, portrayed magnificently by Olivia Colman, as saintly as the Crown’s writers would have us believe? One of the persistent tropes of the Crown is the sacrifices she has made to become Queen. Instead of leading a quiet life as an ordinary British citizen, gardening, cooking, tending her horse, she has had to bear the weight of crown. (hence the title)–in spite of the fact that she has truly no power at all in terms of what happens to Britain in real world decisions. We never really quite know who to feel sorry for–the sensitive, intellectual Charles, pressured into marrying an unformed teenager, forced to give up his bawdy, salt-of-the earth married lover? Or the teenage Lady Di naively marrying “for love” a man she barely knows? We watch the bleak loneliness of her existence as she roller skates around Buckingham Palace between bouts of bulimic vomiting. Somewhere toward the end of the Season series, the view shifts a bit. Elizabeth is less appealing for a number of reasons, the castle is ever so slightly seedy, the camera catches a mouse running across a carpet, turns out Pathetic Prince Charles is quite the narcissist , etc. etc. And all the pomp and circumstance fails to hide the fact that the monarchy is really just a Big Family Business. But for diversion starved streamers such as myself, the Crown serves the same purpose as the real monarchy does for many Brits. Would so much rather talk about their soap opera than what’s going on here. Season 4 takes us up to Thatcher’s departure and Charles and Diana’s divorce. Prince Philip maintains his benign cipher-like presence (I swear he’s got a toupee, but I don’t know if that’s the actor or his portrayal), and the now matronly but still unruly Princess “Margo”, drinks too much and remains unlucky in love. We all know what happens next, but that doesn’t deter me, at least, from eagerly awaiting Season 5.


  1. My husband won’t even watch The Crown — he so dislikes the British upper class, and somewhat accusingly makes fun of me watching it with comments like “Oh, their use of language among these rich morons is so elegant, isn’t it?” Nevertheless I’m completely hooked. I’ve just finished Episode 3 of season 2. I know they’re vapid, vainglorious and filthy rich spoiled children (yes, even Lilibet, though less so) and yes Ishould detest watching along with Wayne, but, I want to see how they lived and especially the matters of state such as abdication of Edward VIII and the Suez Canal seizure (so far), I also admit to enjoying looking at beautiful palaces, rooms, furnishings, paintings, cars, and clothes. So call me superficial. I’m going to finish this review quickly so I can go onto Episode 4…..


    1. I don’t decorate my house in that Empire-style (!) either, but from palaces to ordinary kitchens in a flat, I think the furnishings, hairdos, household items, formality, etc. all is so well done to put us “there”


  2. I love this review; spot on! I’ve watched 4 episodes of this latest season of The Crown and I’m finding it mesmerizing. The first three seasons were also entertaining, but this one seems deeper and darker and really resonates with our own times. It’s such a brilliant portrait of a family mired in profound loneliness and isolation, the consequences of living in a bubble of wealth and privilege, the perpetuation of deep-seated narcissism through generations. And, yes, the directing, writing and acting are all superb!


  3. I would like to leave a review of this review! I found it entertaining, funny, informative and an inspiration to go back the series. Thanks! ❤️❤️❤️


  4. Just a finla note: The British government wrote a letter to Netflix in mid-December I believe, asking that the series have a disclaimer as in “The following drama is fictional.” Otherwise, their argument goes, people will come away with THIS MOVIE as history! I think for a couple part of it – it is true. They said that Charles did not have the affair with Camilla at the outset of their marriage as implied in the movie. It’s a small point given that I presume the affair started in a year or two after the marriage began. But he was emotionally unfaithful and cruel to Diana.
    I’m a kind of purist about movies relating historic times, persons and events so I have some, limited sympathy here. But from what I’ve read the writers were pretty close to the bone. A few conversations like those between Thatcher and the Queen that might have drifted off-tune….


    1. There was an interesting NYT’s piece about how it got Charles wrong and what a good guy he is,etc. Interesting. I think it’s hard to find a really factual historical series unless it’s a Ken Burns kind of documentary.


  5. Your description of The Crown matches my feeling for it and doesn’t explain why I’m always there to watch another episode. Eagerly.


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