The Merry Lives of Windsor

REVIEW:  ‘The Crown,’ Season 6, Part 2


I still have yet to watch the last season of “Boardwalk Empire,” and it broadcast in 2014.

There is a part of me that gets attached to a show like a new group of friends I’ve made, and when the series ends it feels like I’m moving away from them, or they’ve died.

“The Crown” has been such an amazing series to follow as a lifelong Anglophile and royal enthusiast, but the second half of the last season was uneasy for me, even before it debuted on Netflix on Dec. 14, because it started after the death of Diana, or when I really became a royal watcher, and didn’t know how seeing events I watched in real time with the millennial royals would play out.

A friend told me how critical her grandmother was of the first season, since the romance between Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend occurred when she was a teenager and naturally, followed the drama closely.

“He was so much more handsome than the actor,” her grandmother had told her.

While the physical appearance of Prince William with all three actors who played him in early to late adolescence were on par with his boy-band looks of the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, the persona, as creatively imagined by the writers of “The Crown,” actually felt close to what I had imagined when I was a teenager with posters of the blonde dauphin in my room.

“The Crown”’s William is somewhat moody and shy, and altogether uncomfortable with “Willsmania” hordes of teenage girls screaming for him. In addition, he presents a steely reaction to his mother’s death, insisting on returning to Eton as soon as possible, much to the shock and dismay of Prince Charles.

The acting is superb, as it typically is in “The Crown,” and the tension between father and son feels realistic, but the first episode completes a character arc for grandfather, Prince Philip, that feels too engineered.

In an usually sentimental and emotionally astute speech at the end of the episode, Prince Philip rectifies his own reticence with his Prince Charles by asking Prince William to delve deeper into his feelings towards his now late mother.

From a literary standpoint, “The Crown”’s final season is everything its characters should turn out to be, but feels hollow because we know the story continues after 2005 (when the series ends at Charles and Camilla’s wedding).

There is some tension shown between Wiliam and Harry, but appears resolved at the end of the series, even though the writing was clearly influenced by revelations in Harry’s memoir “Spare.”

What has always been the greatest appeal of the “The Crown” for my generation and younger generations is watching major historical events occurring, all the while watching a family respond in the most public and private ways.

The Suez Canal crisis was not an event I lived through and barely one I can even recall in global history studies, so while knowing “The Crown” is a fictionalized account, the main vein of major, global news has always been an asset to the series because it felt like you were gaining the knowledge from a documentary whilst enjoying sumptuous backgrounds and deep, emotional performances.

In the final season, the Sept. 11 attacks are mentioned, much in the way the JFK assassination in Season 2 is dealt with, but knowing firsthand the all-encompassing news of the former just feels curious and somewhat misplaced when it’s reduced to the entre of announcing Porchie’s death. Granted, it fit in nicely into the ultimate death of Princess Margaret and the old world they symbolized.

The portrayal of Carole Middleton as an engineer of the meeting and relationship between Prince William and daughter, Kate, seems too much of a mirror of Muhammed al-Fayed and his push of Dodi with Diana.

Show forerunner Peter Morgan has stated in previous interviews that he is not necessarily a royalist, but the direction of the writing team has definitely been one where we have honored the Windsor family with plotlines that always show them as a victor. In this final season, the initial popularity of Tony Blair unsettles Queen Elizabeth, but she ultimately shows her connection with the British people, triumphing over his brand of modernity with their diametrically opposed receptions at the Women’s Institute.

While it was with a heavy heart that I watched the second half of the final season, the show is happily on repeat from Season 1 in my den and this time, perhaps, I can take delight in the literary masterpiece it is that weaves in historical fact with human emotion. 


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