"The Crown": The Raw Historical Netflix Drama
by Liz Peterson | published Jan. 2nd, 2017
Who wouldn't want to be royal? The glitz and glam, being waited on left and right; it's a pretty grand life.
There's more to being royal than just wearing the extremely expensive crown and fancy waving at crowds of doting subjects. In the Netflix original, "The Crown" we follow the life of a young Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) as she ascends to throne and we quickly learn that the job of the Queen isn't exactly fun or easy.
During this time, the crown is seen as a deity. But as we watch the dilemmas the Royal family faces, their flaw-filled lives humanize them and you begin to sympathize with the characters.
In the very first episode, we watch the King keep his cancer a secret. Princess Margaret is in an intense affair with the married Group Captain Peter Townsend, who also happens to be her father's right-hand man. Winston Churchill, a beloved country icon, makes a comeback at 79 years old. All the while, Elizabeth and Philip are preparing for their wedding day and their new roles in the Royal family.
After an eventful start to the show, I found that I couldn't resist pressing the play button on the next episode. After an eventful start to the show, I found that I couldn't resist pressing the play button on the next episode. Some might find that hard to believe. After all, who would want to watch a show about a queen who is currently 90 years old? You'd probably think it's all narrative and boring, harshly restrictive and concealing. It's far from it. "The Crown" has a fresh raw uncensored approach to depicting royalty in which nothing is off-limits. The show has a creative freedom present to let people be people, say what they want and do what they please.
However, it wasn't just the sullen final days of George VI, the scandalous affair, or the contracting crude dialect from the high class jargon that sucked me in. It was the genuine connection I felt and how painless it was to follow this first installment through. Sure, there were a lot of times I squealed or wanted to punch Elizabeth but I knew exactly how she was feeling and why she had made the choice she had made. Creator Peter Morgan made the historical icon accessible; something he has been praised for doing once before with his screenplay for "The Queen".
For those unfamiliar, "The Queen" was a 2006 British drama centered on how the Royal Family handled Princess Diana's death. Once more, Morgan's characters come to life with these original personas, leaving viewers feeling as if they got to see a whole new, more intimate side of the story, the side that's typically kept under wraps.
A contrast to his earlier piece, Morgan was less concerned about historical accuracy in "The Crown." Where in "The Queen," most could say the story was depicted with factual details capturing characters' back stories and responses or actions; with "The Crown" some details were skewed to give a more climactic and emotional delivery to the story. For example, in real life, Her Majesty and the Prime Minister, at the time, Sir Anthony Eden did not concoct a scenario in which Princess Margaret and Townsend were unable to marry, but in fact, they tried to work against the obstacle that prevented them from doing so [marrying one another]. In "The Crown", we see that Elizabeth gives her sister an ultimatum, threatening Margaret's royal title if she marries Peter before her twenty-fifth birthday, blaming the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
But besides that little switch-a-roo, don't be discouraged. "The Crown" and its storyline follows many other historical points down to the nail such as Winston Churchill holding a second term as England's prime minister, George VI becomBut besides that little switch-a-roo, don't be discouraged. "The Crown" and its storyline follows many other historical points down to the nail such as Winston Churchill holding a second term as England's prime minister, George VI becoming king due to his brother's choice of relinquishing the Crown for his divorced mistress, Elizabeth's coronation as the first to be televised, George VI king due to his brother's choice of relinquishing the Crown for his divorced mistress, Elizabeth's coronation as the first to be televised, George VI's sick sickness and and eventual death while Elizabeth was on tour of Australia, Elizabeth and Philip's tour of Australia, and the obvious given: Elizabeth tour of Australia, and the obvious given: Elizabeth's coronation as queen. queen.
Let's take a step back from all the authentic "nitty-gritty" and look at the show for what it is: a Netflix masterpiece. Netflix has been on a roll with all of its original content and "The Crown" didn't disappoint. The storyline is very easy to follow. Surprisingly, you don't get lost in translation of the language. The display of the English culture wasn't daft or clichéd, but appreciated and alluring.
And I can't say it enough, but the characters really make this show.
Watching Elizabeth confront her internal dilemma of separating her true self from her title is one that will not bore you. All her life, she has been prepped and groomed to serve as only one position, her father's successor. But throughout each episode, you see who "Lilibet" has grown to become. She is lost and unsure of how to proceed, always taking caution before delivering a verdict so her personal speculation won't get in the way. As she fights her opinion, she develops her "Queen" mindset and makes the choices the Head of Church should make.
Despite her being in one of the most powerful positions in the world, you discover she has little power. And Elizabeth isn't alone. Every character is trying to figure out how they fit in this new reign. The Queen Mother still wants to dictate the royal household and assert her opinion. Philip is having trouble accepting that he is now the inferior in a once-balanced partnership and needs to discover his new role as a nonessential spouse. Churchill comes to understanding that he is too old and frail to continue living a life of politics. Margaret has to accept her sister's newly acquired responsibilities and needs to open her mind to the "bigger" picture.
These aren't far-fetched, impractical conflicts. They are relatable if you apply the principles to everyday life. The predicaments are common developmental revelations normal people go through and that is exactly what will get you hooked, what will keep you watching. This show is bound to become one of your fixations. It has humor, depth, consistency, appeal. Once you breeze through the all ten hour-long episodes, you will find yourself hoping that there will be another season.