Netflix original, THE CROWN tells the story of the young Queen Elizabeth II (Clair Foy). The story begins right before her wedding and marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh aka The Doctor himself, Matt Smith. Each episode deals with a different obstacle the Queen must face in her new role as the Sovereign. The actors give great performances and the production quality is so good that it feels like you’ve been transported to London in the 1950s. However, I believe they should give a disclaimer that if you don’t know anything about the UK’s political system you may find yourself a bit lost.
In Wolferton Splash we’re introduced to King George IV (Jarred Harris) who has been experiencing some pretty gnarly coughing fits. And he’s not made aware of the true nature of his illness till much later.
During the wedding ceremony, Princess Elizabeth and Philip share some awkward glances and pauses. They actually share a lot of these stares that seem to be their own way of communicating when people are around. Princess Margret also shares some stares of her own with the married, Peter Townsend, which signify a scandal waiting to happen. Then we meet an unexpected wedding guest, Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) who is campaigning for another term as Prime Minister.
Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage starts off as most marriages in the 1950s, Philip has a naval career and Elizabeth is a stay at home mom. Until the King’s illness (lung cancer) worsens and he asks Elizabeth and Philip to make some international appearances on his behalf. Phillip is asked leave his naval career to be a house husband and be at his wife’s side. And Elizabeth realizes she might become a Queen well before she’s ready.
In Hyde Park Corner, after the King’s death, Elizabeth has to step in to fulfill her royal duties as Queen. She tries to exercise her authority and be a good wife in Windsor and ask that her children, Charles and Anne keep their father’s last name. This turns out to be a huge deal and everyone advises the Queen against this including Churchill. The Queen seems to be stuck between rock and hard place between wanting to please her husband and her family. She chooses her family name.
Winston Churchill’s character is portrayed as an aging Prime Minister who is getting too old for his position. Parliament tries to get him to resign to allow for a younger, more rational, and albeit more gullible PM. He had the support of the King and now, the new Queen. But in Act of God he comes close to losing his position due to his dismissal of the deathly smog that is wreaking havoc on London. But once his assistant is struck by a bus as a result of the fog he changes his stance and orders aid be given.
I’ll be honest, I’m not well versed in the English monarchy system. But I knew the basics, Queen Elizabeth II is the current reigning Queen of England. I also saw The King’s Speech so I knew that King George IV was the one with the speech impediment. Since I didn’t know much about the history or current history of the Queen’s life, I did a lot of Googling while watching the show.
My favorite character was the Grandmother Queen, Queen Mary. She gossiped about everyone including her son, the former King, Duke of Windsor. I loved when she explained to the sister nurse the differences between the 3 Queens, something I felt like the writers added for people like me. There was also a lot of cigarette smoking. But it was the 1950s so it was common. Doctor’s obviously weren’t aware of the effects of smoking. Every time King George had one of his coughing fits he would light one up. It was clear how the writer’s felt about smoking almost to an annoying point. The emphasis on smoking sometimes felt like an anti-smoking ad.
I also appreciate stories with a strong female lead. I think the show does a great job of portraying the Queen being nervous about her new position and still stepping up to the plate. I was also impressed at her first back door deal she tried to make with Churchill asking for his support in changing the family name and in return her support of keeping him in office. Lithgow also gives a great performance as the crotchety Winston Churchill.
One of the first things I noticed about The Crown was its title sequence, it bears a striking resemblance to HBO’s Westworld. Maybe it was done by the same guy. I’d Google it but I’d already spent far too much time Googling things while I was watching this show. I felt like I needed to have an English history degree to understand what the hell was going on. It was like watching an educational film for a school project that I would need to write a report on after.
The Crown reminded me of a really slow episode of Keeping Up with the Kardasians. Rich people with a lot of money but not much to do. I don’t recommend this show for anyone who is looking for a fast-paced drama. The stakes just needed to be higher for me. Even though the events are based on real life it just wasn’t that interesting. Also, the way the family members spoke to each other kind of weird and super formal. It was hard to get a grasp on how people really felt because they talked to each other like they were on a job interview. I thought the show was turning it up a notch when Churchill’s assistant was killed in the bus accident, but I was wrong. It went right back to being a slow drawn out story. At the end of each episode there wasn’t anything to make me want to watch another one. I hope things get more exciting in the next episodes but my expectations are low.
Season 1, Episode 1-4 (S01E01-04)
The Crown streams on Netflix at
Kiana is a self-proclaimed pop culture connoisseur that loves live music, breakfast in bed, and hiking. If she were a TV character she’d be a hybrid of Tina Belcher and Liz Lemon.
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Kiana G. | Contributor