Had I seen it before: No.
What IMDb says: Follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.
Why I picked it: This is one of those shows that seemed to really impress industry insiders but no one else. It’s up for a shitton of Emmys and also won the Golden Globe for Best TV Drama and Best Actress in a TV Drama.
That being said, when was the last time you saw someone in your newsfeed be like “OMG have you seen The Crown yet?? SO GOOD.” Yeah… me neither. Hot Topic already had Stranger Things merch within months of the show premiering. 13 Reasons Why was the show you wish people could shut up about. The Crown is just a show on Netflix everyone has heard of but no one seems to be watching. It’s a hit without really being a hit, and that intrigues me.
Also I just watched that HBO special about Princess Diana and so the next day I was like “dammit, I’m watching The Crown!”
What I liked: From a technical standpoint, the show does a good job of bringing you into its world. The costumes, sets, hair and makeup, score, and directing are all great, no complaints there.
There’s also plenty of future conflicts to come. How will Prince Philip cope with giving up his esteemed Navy career to be a full-time husband? Will the show do a good job of pointing out that women in this time period were expected to make such decisions on the regular? There’s lots of potential for interesting and relevant exploration of gender roles, and that’s exciting.
What I didn’t like: So there’s a saying in theater that one of the worst things you can say about a play is that it had good sets. And well… as mentioned two paragraphs ago, it had good sets.
Shockingly little actually happens in this pilot. I had this moment where I checked to see how far I was into it and was surprised to see I was already 33 minutes in. Yet all that had really happened was Elizabeth and Philip’s wedding, and a bunch of doctors trying to save the king from cancer.
It’s also amazing to me how Elizabeth has barely any screentime. It’s mostly just the king, Philip, and Winston Churchill talking about Elizabeth. She doesn’t make any real decisions that give us insight into her character. There are some conversations about how she married Philip when no one wanted her to, but this just pays lip service to her fierceness rather than letting us experience it firsthand.
And at the end of the pilot, she still isn’t queen yet. I mean we know she’s going to become queen soon but fuck, we knew that from the beginning. When I turn on a pilot expecting to learn about the early life of Queen Elizabeth II, you can’t make your major cliffhanger “so guess what…she’s gonna become queen.” It’s like if I watched all the trailers for Breaking Bad and then the pilot ended with Walter White’s cancer diagnosis.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: I mean this certainly wouldn’t be the first case of a Netflix series that needed more than one episode to really get me hooked, so I might give it a chance. But I’m a third of the way through this project now and I can’t see this as one of the shows that’s going to stick out in my brain come Sept. 1 when I’m allowed to continue watching these shows. It’s too forgettable.