The Crown is a Netflix Original series based on the award-winning play ("The Audience") by showrunner Peter Morgan. The series chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to modern times. The series begins with an inside look at the early reign of the queen, who ascended the throne at age 25. Every character in The Crown is a period character in a period piece in a world that is rapidly moving toward the present day. The series does a good job of showing viewers that the Queen is also a human (not your next-door neighbor, though) who was born in exceptional circumstances and had to make hard choices to do what was best for her family. Netflix sought to produce a classy franchise with The Crown spending millions on it.
The actors do a great job portraying both the good and bad sides of their character. John Lithgow, like Churchill, punches a hole in the old idea that the British do American accents better than Americans do British. What I like about his approach is that he is very conversational, rather than constantly making speeches out of every uttered sentence. He does make speeches of course, but he also talks to people like human beings instead of an icon. The scenes between him and an artist painting his portrait (season 1, episode 9) are particularly illuminating.
I found seasons one and two to be very engaging; some of the parts were slow but the show still managed to hold my attention. I felt that while Season three was good, it felt a bit glum, with its characters sinking into middle age as Britain sank into grayness in the '60s and '70s. I kept hoping for more glamour, more sizzle; season four definitely brings all of that and more. I had the privilege of viewing the first three episodes of season four via a digital screener that was sent to me.
The action starts around 1980 when the queen now in her mid-50s and still played by Olivia Colman greets the arrival of two women who threaten her preeminence. First comes Margaret Thatcher, the grocer's daughter (played by Gillian Anderson) whose sheer relentlessness made her not only Britain's first female prime minister but also a force to be reckoned with.
What The Crown is great at showing the audience is how, while the royals may appear superfluous and extravagant in the modern age, they prove useful to Britain in several ways. Most prime ministers, except Churchill, come to the queen at their first meeting skeptical and slightly anti-monarchical, but they in time realize her unbiased guidance is an incredible asset. She wants her country to succeed but doesn't have to shill for votes to get into a position to help. Overall this show is a must-watch if you are even remotely interested in historical dramas.
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