Grant Mitchell

When “The Crown” debuted on Netflix back in 2016, it was a revelation. The ensemble was glorious, with great actors like Claire Foy, Vanessa Kirby, John Lithgow and Jared Harris gracing the cast list. Not to mention the subject matter was royals and history, one often publicized but rarely in a nuanced portrayal. Even with the show’s anthology approach to replacing actors with older counterparts every two seasons, the transitions do not diminish any of the ravenous consumption of episodes “The Crown” experiences from its fans.

For myself, “The Crown” was not a show I was chomping at the bit to watch. While a lot of other people are infatuated with the celebrity of the royals in England, I never really got it. I didn’t understand why people found the monarchy of Great Britain so interesting. The Queen, in my head, was just a figurehead whose family took hundreds of millions of dollars from everyday people who needed those funds more. While I tried to get into the show before the past several years, I couldn’t consistently watch it until I started to watch “The Crown” this past Summer. By episode five I was hooked.

This is the part where I tell you everything I said before, all the criticisms and snipes about the English monarchy, should be ignored because this show is just so darn good.

The show begins with the end of King George VI’s rule and the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s. The transition is done in a very tasteful and bittersweet manner, the illness faced by King George VI is sad as his deteriorating condition illustrates the humanity and vulnerability behind those who wear the crown. As for Elizabeth II, Claire Foye brings the queen down to earth while also still showing viewers that the royals are somewhat aloof to everyday life and problems faced by their subjects.

Beyond the perspective of royals toward the commoners, there is an incredible amount of drama in “The Crown” which is quite addicting.

There are many dramatic moments, such as when Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, has a torrid affair with a married man and senior attendant to the King. Or when Elizabeth gives a speech at a factory that is viewed by the public as insensitive and out of touch and leads to a huge public controversy over the necessity of the crown. And those are just from seasons one and two.

Seasons three and four, starring a whole new cast of actors as the royals, has just as decorated a list of actors as the first two season of the show did. Additionally, the drama in these two seasons is far more present and significant. Strife between the crown and common people of England reaches an all-time high. That is until Princess Diana swoops in and saves the image of the royals while herself reaching a level of admiration and celebrity never seen before or since.

“The Crown,” for my money, is one of the best shows available to watch. While the royals way of life is far more lavish than anything any of us will ever see, “The Crown” manages to humanize the royals and depict the internal struggles of royalty and the lonely road many in that life face.

Ultimately, “The Crown” offers a unique look into the lives of the royals, showing that what we see is a gilded representation of who they are and that there is much that exists behind closed doors.

Grant Mitchell is a senior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

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