Wednesday 18 September 2019

Eight reasons why people are loving 'The Crown' on Netflix

*No major spoilers here

Image: The Crown/Netflix
Image: The Crown/Netflix
Image: The Crown/Netflix
Jane Last

Jane Last

Begone Narcos, Stranger Things and House of Cards... you're behind on the Netflix curve.

Everybody's watching 'The Crown' - and here's why.

1. Everything is so exquisite (well for €100m, it should be....)

Netflix wanted to get this right from the off - and so they spent €100m on the series, and brought in 'The Queen' writer Peter Morgan.

'The Crown' looks expensive, authentic and is a sumptuous feast for the eyes. The wedding and coronation scenes are a sight to behold - the creators spent €30,000 alone on the queen's wedding dress. They filmed in some of the biggest houses and estates throughout England.

The attention paid to detail is second-to-none - you will never look at 'Downton Abbey' in the same way.

2. It was made for an American audience

The Americans love all things royal and Downton Abbey - the latter picked up a clutch of awards.

Image: The Crown/Netflix
Image: The Crown/Netflix

Perhaps this explains why Netflix went all out to ensure this was a visual feast and get the casting right.

However, this doesn't mean it that the series is in awe of the royal family.

We see Philip moaning about having to kneel before his wife, who happens to be queen, and Princess Margaret upset at not being able to marry the man she loves. However, they both live lives of huge privilege and have means which most of us can only dream of. It's hard to feel sympathy for either of them - but you're not supposed to.

3. Jared Harris

Critics are saying Jared Harris' turn in 'The Crown' is career-defining. Most of us will remember Harris for his turn as Lane Price 'Mad Men' and would wonder if he could better this.

He has in 'The Crown' and the first two episodes in this series belong to him.

Image: The Crown/Netflix
Image: The Crown/Netflix

Harris' George VI was a reluctant king, uncomfortable in a very public role and was often ill-tempered. We see him lashing out at staff as they struggle to fix his collar.

He was also a father who loved his wife and two daughters very much - and when told he has terminal cancer, he opts not to tell his loved ones for fear of upsetting them. He keeps a stiff upper lip and emotions in check.

His death sees his wife and two daughters left bereft - there is one particularly moving scene when a distraught Margaret bursts into his room during the embalment process. The sight of his elderly mother Queen Mary, clad in black, falling to her knees before the new queen Elizabeth is a sight that will live long in the memories of viewers.

Harris appears in flashback form later on in the series - as they revisit the abdication crisis of his older brother David (King Edward) and how he prepares his young family for unprecedented change.

4. Casting

Claire Foy is excellent as Queen Elizabeth - the young woman who finds herself queen at the age of 25. She is seen telling Philip she thought they would have had more time together as a young married couple before destiny came calling. Her clipped upper-class accent - her husband is 'Feeleep' - is spot on.

Former Dr Who star Matt Smith is excellent as a loving hands-on dad Philip, while not shying away from his petulance and attitude

Vanessa Kirby shines as Margaret.

Eileen Atkins as the elderly Queen Mary, provides counsel to a young queen, while also having a conflicted relationship with her elder son David ('he effectively killed my other son' is one of her memorable descriptions of him).

Some critics say that American actor John Lithgow is somewhat miscast as Winston Churchill - however, most viewers might disagree with this. Lithgow's ailing Churchill is a powerhouse who dominates Downing Street and his cabinet, and also the young queen.

5. Intrigue

Lots of palace and government intrigue here.

When the young queen insists her family will carry her husband's name (Mountbatten) - her grandmother and mother make moves to ensure the name Windsor remains.

Political and palace circles are also unsure as to what to make of Philip - an impoverished princeling banished as a baby from his native Greece when his family were forced into exile. His mother later became a nun and his three older sisters were not invited to his wedding as they were married to prominent Nazis.

Philip's uncle Dickie Mountbatten was behind Philip's advancement into the royal circle - but it becomes apparent in this series that the pair really did marry for love.

Other intrigue is in government circles - we see Churchill's cabinet despair at their boss and make discreet approaches to the palace in a bid to push him into resignation. His eventual successor Anthony Eden will have his own problems in the next series.

6. Arguments between the Queen and Philip

There are some heated scenes between the queen and Philip - and it's almost like watching your parents argue.

The queen is seen throwing something at him and chasing him from a veranda in Australia - right into path of a camera crew perched outside the property.

Another scene sees them arguing in the car.

At times, you find yourself hoping that Philip would become a better husband to his wife. He's not having affairs but seems to be having a great time with his pals, and falling into Buckingham Palace late at night after a wild night on the town.

The series will see the palace courtiers suggest Philip open the Olympic games in Australia - and then travel the country for five months afterwards to 'find himself'. His wife looks almost relieved by the suggestion.

We don't know whether this really happened - and we're never going to know.

But for a couple who have been together for 69 years, it would only be fair to suggest there were some ups and downs in the course of their relationship.

7. No sex scenes

A stolen kiss between Margaret and Group Captain Townsend, and a flash of Philip's bare bum (twice!) is as close as we're going to get to love scenes in this series.

There are no sex scenes at all - and the series doesn't suffer. Producers - take note.

8. The fall-out of the Abdication crisis

It will surprise some that the queen sought advice from her uncle David (aka Edward VII) after the death of her father.

David has been living it up in Paris with his wife Wallis.

David plays nice to the family when it suits him - but he writes of loathing them in letters to his wife (the family will not receive her after George and Mary's deaths).

This appears to be at odds when you look at the interaction between himself and his mother Queen Mary - he enjoys a good gossip with her, and is seen lighting a cigarette for her, which she gratefully receives as lies in bed close to death.

His pet name for Elizabeth is 'Shirley Temple' - and it's not meant as a term of endearment.

However, she reaches out to him for advice - and he is only too happy to offer it when asked. Particularly when it comes to Margaret and Group Captain Townsend.

During the coronation, David invites a group of friends around to his Paris abode to watch proceedings on television and gives a running commentary.

He never had a coronation ceremony, he tells them, as he gave it up for something far greater: his love for the woman who later became his wife.

Later on, he is seen crying as he plays his bagpipes in his garden - David will remain in exile in Paris until his death in 1968.

We know from historians that the queen would visit David in Paris and stayed in touch - it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next series.

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