Just when I was wondering where to get my dose of exquisite gentility since Downton Abbey wrapped after six glorious seasons, Netflix comes out with the superb The Crown, its take on the rise of Queen Elizabeth II. I’ve finished two episodes. Because I cut my teeth on trashy historical romances and have a thing for stories about royals, history, biographies and nostalgia, this show is like crack to me.
- Claire Foy, last seen playing Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall, has a knack for playing female rulers. She brings a unique blend of vulnerable haughtiness to the role, which seems to work in her favour.
- Matt Smith as the mischievous Philip Mountbatten shines in every scene he’s in. It’s impossible to look away. I’ve never had a thing for blondes, but I believe I am about to make an exception to my rule. Also, I keep muttering “why the long face?” and laughing to myself like an utter lunatic. Is there historical proof that Prince Philip always sleeps in nothing but his birthday suit? Because all those butt shots are clearly gratuitous. Did that sound like a complaint? Because it wasn’t. Royal butt shots for president!
- Winston Churchill apparently had an amazing sense of timing and absolutely no shame – dude almost upstaged the then princess at her own wedding. No wonder he beat Hitler. John Lithgow as ornery octogenarian Winston Churchill chews every scene he’s in. Git it, John Lithgow!
- Netflix has obviously shelled out mega bucks for this prestige show. This observation is brought to you by the face merkin on Jeremy Northam.
- Speaking of Jeremy Northam, I last saw him getting his head chopped off by Henry VIII in The Tudors for sticking to his morals on pain of death. Now he’s playing an ambitious silver fox of a Foreign Secretary who aspires to be Britain’s next Prime Minister. Welcome back, Jeremy Northam!
As an adopted Canadian, it is my duty to watch a show based on the queen’s life because Elizabeth II is on our money and we should all support the Commonwealth even if I have no idea what the Commonwealth even stands for anymore. Actually, I never really did and that question didn’t come up in the citizenship exam. Long live Elizabeth Regina!
UPDATE: I finished The Crown. It took two days, a few food and water breaks and zero showers, but I did it. Achievement unlocked! Also, blink and you’ll miss an appearance from Stannis Baratheon as an unapologetic modernist painter. Stannis has hair and wears a three piece suit. Fittingly, his work ends up as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light. That’s what you get for burning your own child, Stannis.
I’ve never been into the sturm and drang that accompanies Prince William, Prince Harry, Duchess Kate, et.al. But I’ve been a fan of the Queen since she consented to have 007 escort her to the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games. A queen with a sense of humor, a finger on the pulse of pop culture and an appreciation for Daniel Craig? I’m sold.
I like HerMaj because she embodies a virtue I have always admired: consistency. She’s like the seasons. Like death and taxes. Whatever else may happen, you know HerMaj is always there to bring the decorum, the diplomacy, the good manners and right conduct and of course, the exquisite jewels. The show seems to underscore this, and lays the foundation of her behaviour solely on her grandmother, Queen Mary of Teck. She schools a grieving young queen struggling to understand how to navigate the divide between the old world and a modern one starting to view the monarchy as stale and unnecessary, and also drops the mic on the Dowager Countess of Grantham:
“Monarchy is God’s sacred mission to grace and dignify the earth, to give ordinary people an ideal to strive towards, an example of nobility and duty to raise them in their wretched lives. Monarchy is a calling from God.”
The Windsors make the Crawleys look positively poor by comparison. I started out wondering if the show could compare with Downton Abbey and ended up with the realization that not only does this show match Downtown Abbey, it also exceeds it. Well done, Netflix. Well done.