In November of 2020, Netflix’s “The Crown” released its most anticipated season yet: season four. The show captures the reign of England’s Queen Elizabeth II who was in power from 1952 until her recent death last year.
When the highly-acclaimed season four dropped, the show pulled in existing fans and new viewers with the introduction of the legendary Princess Diana who in the show was played by actress Emma Corrin.
One of the show’s biggest successes is capturing the people these characters were built upon with almost nearly identical looks. With this success, the show gives the visuals of younger versions of these people and chillingly captures those who have died as if they were still alive.
Emma Corrin’s portrayal of the younger Princess Diana in season four was entirely immersive, engaging and impactful. When “The Crown” released its next season on Nov. 9, replacing Corrin with the amazing Elizabeth Debicki was not only a reminder of her predecessor but also provided a nearly perfect re-creation of Diana.
Along with Debicki, the show replaces the entire cast for the third time in order to capture the aging and growth of the Royal Family. In season five, the late Queen Elizabeth II is played by Imelda Staunton, Prince Phillip is played by Jonathan Pryce and Prince Charles by Dominic West.
While Pryce and West received criticism about their portrayals visually, both actors provide their acting talent in a way that is both engaging and character building.
Staunton’s acting is absolutely grand in this season as she portrays the Queen in what is considered to be one of her most challenging and cursed years.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who love Princess Diana, but it was clear her story would be the main topic when it was confirmed that this season would cover the years of the 1990s.
Filled with dread and honesty, Debicki really does find herself accurately becoming the late Princess of Wales on the screen. It takes a moment for a viewer to adjust to the change from Corrin to her; but while Debicki captures the real Diana, she also looks like an older version of Corrin’s younger Diana in multiple scenes.
Recreating the legendary “Revenge Dress”, the infamous BBC Panorama interview, and Andrew Morton’s “Diana: Her True Story” — this season proves that Diana’s impact on the royal family was not only massive but explains to a new generation the impact she had and how her marriage and life unfolded.
Unfortunately, the show does manage to spend a lot of time away from the Diana and Charles storylines and forgets to cover a lot of important character moments that previous seasons have built up such as Diana’s eating disorder. Rather, we focus on Diana’s growing paranoia and how it was abused to secure the unethical Martin Bashur interview.
While spending time jumping between the families of many different characters, Prime Minister, and metaphors of dissipating control, it is incredibly unfortunate that the show fails to tell stories how it once did.
One of the biggest issues with this season of “The Crown” is the fact that changing the cast does take a moment to get adjusted to and could be seen as a slight bit of a welcomed distraction once you do get over that hill.
Recently, the show received a lot of backlash from the Royal Family due to them feeling the need to push the message that the show is fictional and can’t accurately capture what is going on behind the scenes of the family. It shouldn’t come as a surprise however that a show “based on a true story” isn’t 100% accurate. It seems that the family’s degradation of the show comes in the form of attempting to control a narrative.
The show has unfortunately taken a new approach to capturing moments and scenes by not going in depth as much as they used to due to the Queen’s recent death. The show seems to skip around to different dramas and controversies without allowing characters multiple moments to react and be impacted by them. This fast pace only belittles the importance of certain historical moments and it is unfortunate that the controversy has impacted the writing, dialogue and plot structure of the show.
Despite controversies and the show’s lowest reviewed season yet: “The Crown” season five does offer a portrayal of one of the most important eras in the Royal Families history while continuing to provide lifelike re-creations.
With the upcoming final season, we can expect the heart wrenching death of Princess Diana and the introduction of a teenage Kate Middleton. The most we can do is hope that the show will hear out the complaints, improve and go back to the elements that made season four one of the best television seasons to ever recreate history.
Gabriel Kanae can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.