Living through a pandemic, especially in America where there’s no end in sight, can be bleak with little upsides. However, there is a silver lining to having a significant amount of more time on our hands – no reason to feel guilty about spending an entire weekend on your couch binge watching TV. In fact, not only do we not need to feel guilty, but staying indoors is basically an act of heroism these days. This is hopefully the last time in our lifetimes where we’ll be confined to our homes for months at a time in order to stop the spread of a deadly virus, so we may as well take advantage.
If you’re looking for a new show to binge, look no further than The Crown on Netflix, which is my latest exception. Here’s a few reasons why this amazing series should be at the top of your must-see-TV list.
The Crown features one of the strongest ensemble casts on television, and the casting is incredibly spot-on when comparing the actors to their real-life counterparts. Seasons 1 and 2 was led by Claire Foy, who portrayed the queen when she was still a princess, centering between the years 1947 through 1964. Season 3 transitioned the lead role to Olivia Colman, an Oscar winner who produces an expertly layered, nuanced performance. She’s commanding and believable, making the viewer understand through 10 episodes the weight of the crown her character must singularly bear. Helena Bonham Carter brings her trademark commitment to the role of Princess Margaret. Picking up where Vanessa Kirby left off, Bonham Carter is every bit as snarky, irreverent, rebellious, and hard-partying as is expected of the queen’s younger sister.
The costume designer for any period drama has the unique challenge of capturing the spirit of an era while bringing their own sensibilities to a production. But The Crown is a beast of its own, with the added pressures of designing the wardrobes of the most famous family in the world and attaining the level of quality expected in the age of peak TV. Costume designers Michele Clapton (Season 1) and Jane Petrie (Season 2) rose to the challenge and then some, creating glamorous, memorable costumes as riveting as the drama in which they appear. Check out this Harper’s Bazaar article for examples of some of these amazing designs.
Obviously, a big draw for this show is the history that it is telling, as this blogger points out. And here, again, you can see how much time and research has gone into trying to make the show as accurate and true to history as possible. If you look at a lot of television dramas surrounding English monarchs – like The Tudors and Victoria – you can see where history ends and the fiction begins, but The Crown has stuck to history so well, that you actually learn a lot from the show. Where a lot of historical dramas will add fiction to sensationalise the story, The Crown only really relies on real events to create the show’s drama. There have, of course, been a few stories that have been slightly altered, but they still stick pretty accurately to the real story. Of course, there are liberties taken with how characters react in private and behind closed doors, but creator Peter Morgan has said that he tries to portray these unknown details as accurately as possible with the information he does have about the Royals. If you are someone who is a stickler for historical accuracy, you won’t be too disappointed with the show.
As TV Line notes, before watching The Crown, you might think Queen Elizabeth has had a relatively uneventful reign as monarch. But creator Peter Morgan (whose script for 2006’s The Queen won Helen Mirren an Oscar) finds quite a few obstacles for the new queen to navigate, including the failing health of British prime minister Winston Churchill, an ominous nuclear test by the Soviet Union, and the British Empire’s tenuous hold on its colonies around the world. One episode focuses on the Great Smog of 1952, a thick layer of pollution that settles over London and kills thousands of residents, and it plays like a life-or-death, apocalyptic thriller.