“Unfortunately, a good portion of the interpersonal conflicts have to do with marriage and men.”
Title: The Crown
Episodes Reviewed: Season 1
Creator: Peter Morgan 👨🏼🇬🇧
Directors: Philip Martin 👨🏼🇬🇧, Benjamin Caron 👨🏼🇬🇧, Stephen Daldry 👨🏼🇬🇧, and Julian Jarrold 👨🏼🇬🇧
Writers: Peter Morgan 👨🏼🇬🇧 and Tom Edge 👨🏼🇬🇧 (4 episodes)
Reviewed by Mimi 👩🏻🇺🇸
Touted as the most expensive drama produced by Netflix, the biopic about the 25-year-old Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension certainly makes for sumptuous period porn. Yet, the pleasure is purely surface-level. The actors do their best to glower, stare icily, and eke out whatever emotions they can within the confines of otherwise wooden subjects, but some may wonder if the royal family is interesting enough on its own—beyond splashy headlines—to warrant an entire series. Is the queen really so enigmatic? Or is she exactly as she was groomed to be?
Does it pass the Bechdel Test? YES
The series devotes a fair amount of time developing Elizabeth’s (Claire Foy) relationships with the domineering Queen Mother (Victoria Hamilton) and her party girl sister, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby), as they grapple with duty, family, and scandal. Unfortunately, a good portion of their interpersonal conflicts have to do with marriage and men.
At least two of the episodes feature Elizabeth and Philip (Matt Smith) touring Britain’s former empire, including countries in Africa, where people of color essentially fulfill the role of set dressing. In a later episode, the Egyptian president Abdel Nasser (Amir Boutrous) turns up in what would be the prelude to the Suez Crisis, but his presence is merely to create a headache for the new prime minister, Anthony Eden (Jeremy Northam).
As per our methodology, if there’s no representation in this category it will still garner a 3/5 so long as it makes sense within context. In this case, one could make the argument that the writers were merely staying true to history and the relevant figures. Regardless, I do wonder whose stories may have been left out.
Mediaversity Grade: C- 3.13/5
Anglophiles will have no trouble bingeing the season, but I admit I was left feeling somewhat unsatiated in the end.