TV Review: The Crown delivers what is currently missing from drama in television

It almost seems uncanny that Netflix‘s new royal drama, The Crown, would be released the same time that the drama in the US had been at its peak – and it has absolutely paid off. As I’m sure for many viewers, this series came as a well-received break from the real life drama unfolding on our television screens. It gave us a chance to return to the other side of the pond for the high-quality drama the UK is renowned for, especially after the huge success of Downtown Abbey.

The series commences just as a young Princess Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and to-be Prince Philip (Matt Smith) are about to be wedded, parallel to King George VI’s (Jared Harris) declining health. From there, a whirlwind of drama erupts as a young woman is thrust upon a throne she is unprepared for.

The Crown Season 1

The tone of The Crown is obvious, as stated by the King himself, “The Crown must win. Must always win.” This moving statement rings true throughout the season as each character attempts to put personal motives aside as the new monarchy arises; most notably seen as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip try to adjust to a married life that is overtaken by Lizzie’s duties as the leader of the British monarchy. The dynamic between these two performers is absolutely stunning, and the chemistry between both characters exudes onscreen. Both Foy and Smith are not only well trained to speak in the notoriously difficult royal vernacular, but play the Queen and Prince in a fresh style rather than an imitation of prior performances.

As in the vein of creator Peter Morgan‘s previous royal endeavor The Queen, the series engagingly highlights themes regarding the relevance of the monarchy in a post-World War II society, particularly through the incredible scenes featuring Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (John Lithgow). Though not entirely a physical resemblance of “the father of the nation”, Lithgow’s performance as Churchill embodies the historical figure that is captivating. His quick wit and cards-to-his-chest attitude during his weekly meetings with the Queen result in incredible performances, coming to a head in the fourth episode, focusing on the Great Smog of 1952. His eccentric demeanor is delivered in a way that is not a parody of the historical figure, but rather an out-of-the-box take on such an icon.

The Crown Season 1

Although The Crown can be slowly paced at times, the moments of intense drama are well worth the watch. The series touches on the infamous scandals within the royal family’s history; most particularly Prince Edward’s (Alex Jennings) controversial choice to abdicate the throne to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson (Lia Williams), and Princess Margaret’s (Vanessa Kirby) affair with Group Captain Peter Townsend (Ben Miles). Using these historically accurate events to create the tone of acclaimed British drama has been an excellent choice by Morgan and has been delivered captivatingly.

Comparisons with Downtown Abbey are present, but the influence of Netflix’s political drama success story House Of Cards is clear in The Crown.  Not only is this through the scandals and the drama, but the use of extremely high-quality direction, cinematography, a lavish and detailed set and costume design, and emotive musical score add to the extensive caliber The Crown sets as a full-blown British drama.

The Crown Season 1

Overall, The Crown signifies not only the return of excellent British drama but also highlights the current relevance of the royal drama – more so in the current time we live in. The biopic reminds audiences of the traditional roots of Britain, and the how the weight of such an empire was held on the shoulders of a young Queen, who continues to do so today, even in the wake of modern change.

Although these factors create excellent television, the diamond within The Crown is its stunning ability to capture the incredibly human face that lies underneath it.


All episodes of The Crown are now streaming exclusively on Netflix.


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