How important is a yacht to you? That’s a big question to keep in mind as you watch Netflix Season 5 The crown (Premier on November 9), which makes strong use of the thematic SS Britannia, the former cruise ship of the British royal family. In the show’s ponderous metaphor, Britannia represents the monarchy itself: a grand old thing loved by some and seen by many as an unnecessary and even appalling indulgence.
Just as this stately ship has come of age, so too does Queen Elizabeth II, who is now being played with pepper and pepper Imelda Staunton. The season spans the early to mid 1990s (roughly) when the Queen was in her 60s and struggling to keep up with the times. She didn’t get most of the nation’s attention: the tabloids and gossip-hungry public were fixated on the trials and tribulations of Princess Diana, who was unhappy in her marriage Karl (then Prince of Wales) and chafes badly against the shackles of her lonely, tried life. But Queen Elizabeth still piloted the ship, which she does with increasing myopia as the season progresses.
It has long been the game of watching The crown to find out what creators Pete Morgan and its writers think of these absolutely ridiculous people. Is the show slavish royalism, maudlin and awkward in its misty devotion to ancient traditions? Once in a while. Is it a judgmental, sensationalist look at blindered dinosaurs and the poor cultured people who trample them? Occasionally yes. Season five is really exciting as the show takes a hard look at the wacky ways Elizabeth and her cohort reject compassion and conformity. But just as often, if not more often, The crown snuggles up to his subjects, bathing them in a reverential and loving glow.
The season is particularly sympathetic to Charles. How could it not be when the dashing rake Dominic West is in the role? What dumb casting this is, one that robs the show of one of the fundamental dichotomies of Charles and Diana’s marriage. Where is the lanky stiffness of the real Charles – so counterbalanced by Diana’s easygoing appeal – when he’s portrayed by West? I suppose it’s a bit mean to focus on looks, but it’s weird to watch an entire season of The crown where Charles is something of a stud.
No matter how realistic the portrayal, this season’s Charles is a likeable character. Desperate to drag the monarchy into something reminiscent of modernity, he quarrels with his mother over the family’s antiquated public image. In the show’s tight vacuum, it’s hard not to see Charles as something of the story’s hero, one of the few people involved with this ridiculous institution who understands it needs to change — whether those changes are more of a cosmetic nature are or not really structural. One episode even ends with Charles break-dancing with some youths while title cards explain his civic accomplishments.
Charles is deeply devoted Camilla (Olivia Williams), mainly due to the humiliating media storm surrounding the whole tampon affair. (Look it up if you’re unfamiliar.) Which almost makes Diana seem like part of the villainy that separates these two soulmates. That doesn’t sound all that fair, although the season is certainly likable to Diana in her own way. She is, of course, the very raison d’être of the whole series at this point, making the role a tremendous responsibility for any actor who dares play her.
Very practical, the big one Elizabeth Debicki nail it. She precisely calibrates the public Diana’s elegant boredom, her familiar crooked neck, her downcast gaze, so knowing and haunted as she speaks in the coo of that sad dove. It’s a soapy treat watching Debicki navigate the pathetic lows and fleeting highs of Diana’s final years, from her doomed relationship to Hasnat Khan (Humayun Said) on her budding friendship with the billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed (the master Salim Daw), father of her later lover Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdallah).
However, there is an odd italic in the way the show views Diana’s affairs with brown men (one within the season, the other hinted at): a hint, however subtle, of their difference. The show then almost perverts that attraction into a weakness when Diana naively trusts an insidious act Martin Baschir (Prasaana Puwanarajah), whose landmark televised interview with the princess has long been shrouded in conspiracy theory, simply stating it as fact The crown.
https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/11/the-crown-season-5-is-a-compelling-prelude-to-tragedy ‘The Crown’ Season 5 Is a Compelling Prelude to Tragedy