By Ashleigh Clark
My mom and I have been watching “The Crown” together for several years now. I make us lattes and we sit on our ugly green couch in the living room and binge each new season in a few days. As a lover of the Royal family and historical dramas, my mom was the perfect person to review the latest season of ‘The Crown’ with me.
First, a little about my mom: Michelle Clark graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor’s in History from Cedarville. She taught U.S. History and Civics at Twin Tiers Christian Academy for ten years. She is excited to retire from teaching and live her golden years as a stay-at-home grandma. She has been learning about the Royal family from books and documentaries for as long as I can remember.
Season six followed Princess Diana for the first three episodes, with the third ending with her tragic death. The next seven episodes deal with the aftermath of her death and the rise of the new generation of the royal family. Diana, Charles and their son William take the central role in this season, with Queen Elizabeth’s reactions as a backdrop to modern events. Amidst the royal turmoil of the 90s and early 2000s, the Queen provides a timeless perspective.
For my mom, this was the first season in which she clearly remembered events depicted in the show. “My husband and I were on a weekend trip to my brother’s house to help him move. While we were moving, we heard the news of Diana’s death,” she said.
She also noted the effect that “The Crown” had on her perspective of these events. “I think “The Crown” adds the personal side and private perspective that the news didn’t share.” The emotion from the writers and actors reminded us that these were real-life events that actual people suffered through.
It is important to understand that “The Crown” is not a 100% accurate show. Since the Royal family remains focused on their protected privacy, the show has to play around with details and conversations to entertain the audience. This led to my mom and I pulling out our phones every episode to look up what exactly was accurate and what was added for dramatic effect.
As for the show itself, the music and actors’ performances played a huge role in the drama. We were sucked in by every intense glare from Elizabeth Debicki (Diana) or outburst from Dominic West (Prince Charles). The producers knew exactly which scenes deserved an extra few seconds of camera time to draw out the spectacle.
Debicki’s performance is the highlight of the show. She portrays Diana in this show as a broken woman trying to piece together her life. Long stares and muttered phrases key the viewer into her inward struggles. Through her extravagant lifestyle and rebellious behavior, the show builds up a grand yet unsatisfying life for Princess Diana. Her two sons, Harry and William, are her only source of joy. Because of her untimely death, she never got the opportunity to come into her own outside the Crown.
Imelda Staunton plays the resolute queen in this season. Although Queen Elizabeth takes a back seat in this season, Staunton gives her all to the role. The best part of Staunton’s performance was in the last episode. The Queen must address the details of “Operation London Bridge,” a.k.a. her funeral. In this episode, the resolution on the Queen’s face slips away. As she reviews the placement for the funeral processional, she undoubtedly suffers from sudden existentialism.
The last season frequently utilizes conversations with the dead. This comes back to play in the final minutes of the last episode. Swelling music follows a monologue from Prince Philip as it becomes apparent to the audience that their conversation is happening from beyond the grave. As the Queen leaves the Abbey, the screen cuts to black, suggesting that her time as monarch has also ended.
Watching this show with my mom showed me how good acting and direction play a huge role in the success of a show. Additionally, it has been a fantastic bonding experience for the two of us. Her knowledge of Royal history made her the perfect watch buddy.
Overall, “The Crown” paints the Royal family as they are. Not some perfect group of heirs to the throne, but flawed individuals with personal desires. My mom and I are big fans of the show, and we recommend watching it if you are a fellow Royal family fan.
All six seasons of “The Crown” are available to watch on Netflix
Ashleigh Clark is a senior Political Science major. She loves hiking and playing Animal Crossing.
Images courtesy of Netflix