Let’s be honest: There’s only one show we’re all going to be watching, talking, and reading about this week: season five of Netflix’s Emmy-winning drama, The Crown, which introduces a new cast for the final two seasons. While it’s easy to spend the beginning of the first episode doing commentary on how much the actors look or don’t look like their real-life counterparts (as we did in season three when Olivia Colman took over from Claire Foy, etc.), that will quickly give way to the compelling storytelling and captivating performances. Also, pay attention to some very nostalgic cameos from the opening scene and on this season.
What’s interesting is that while The Crown has been in the news a lot lately—namely Dame Judi Dench calling for a disclaimer to say the show is purely dramatization—I find myself having more empathy for the real-life figures after I watch. No one can know what really goes on behind closed doors, which is why it’s so fun to see something that might be as close to it as we’re going to get. But of course a showrunner is going to take creative liberty with a television series. It’s a show!
Also, who better than Peter Morgan? Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to drama, among other notable honors, he was the Oscar-nominated screenwriter for the 2006 biographical drama The Queen. In The Crown, he presents all sides of the royals and give us what is probably the most insightful take on the most famous family.
As Imelda Staunton (Queen Elizabeth II in the new season), told me during our interview which will run later this week, “I hope viewers continue to realize that Peter Morgan doesn’t take sides. He’ll present things and you might not like what you’re seeing, but he shows you both sides. Within that, he’ll create tension, and that makes a drama, which is what this is. I hope the audience feels that they are watching something that has been written, performed, designed, and created with great respect and delivered with dignity. I don’t think you can write about a family you don’t really feel you can invest your writing ability to create those imagined bits of the tapestry in-between if you didn’t really like them.”