The much-anticipated fourth series of Netflix’s royal drama The Crown has finally arrived, and it does not disappoint. Covering the late 1970’s and 1980’s, this is the season we have all been waiting for as the rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher, and the blossoming relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana, takes centre stage.
For anyone who has not been privy to the excellence that is Netflix’s The Crown, the show is based on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, played by the extravagant Olivia Colman, following the Queen from her coronation to the present day. It has been possibly one of the most entertaining series on Netflix due to great writing, excellent performances, and extravagant cinematography. Season four is nothing short of spectacular, being, in my opinion, the best season yet.
Episode one is ominous; opening the new series with a scene of violence and turmoil with real-life footage of the troubles in Ireland, foreshadowing and setting the tone for the political troubles and disorder yet to come. The civil unrest in Ireland and the relationship of Charles and Diana juxtapose the frivolous humour of the Windsors, making every episode of the new series an emotional rollercoaster. If you are not laughing at the wicked humour of Elizabeth II, then you are bound to be crying at the devastation caused by Thatcher’s rule. This season is capable of bringing the viewer to tears by the first episode. ‘Balmoral Test’ stands out in particular amongst the ten episodes as it provides an intimate insight into the royals’ unrelenting superficial politeness and mockery of society, establishing a balance of both loving the royal family and resenting them at the same time.
What really made this season stand out though are the newcomers and the sheer power of their performances. Emma Corrin’s embodiment of the young princess Diana is enchanting, capturing the charismatic, silly persona of the young girl and her eagerness for attention. She’s fun, energetic and full of warmth and the show really homes in on the fairy-tale romance between herself and Prince Charles. We can never really know for sure how Diana was in person, but the writers of the show make sure to depict her with an empathy and care that makes it difficult for the audience to not fall in love with her.
Then there’s Gillian Anderson, who is an absolute joy in the role of Thatcher, portraying the rivalry with the queen perfectly as they puzzle about one another, poking at their prejudices. She’s remarkable both in appearance and performance, holding the Thatcher grimace so well that for a moment, you forget that this is an actor playing Thatcher and not actually the woman herself. Together, Corrin and Anderson give The Crown a powerful energy that’s unprecedented compared to the last three seasons. Indeed the queen, her sister and the Duke of Edinburgh may not be as influential in this new series, however the newcomers more than make up for it, bringing a feminist authenticity that we can all root for.
Season four of The Crown drives home that the royals’ failures can more often than not be self-inflicted; it is simultaneously heart-breaking, humorous and absolutely beautiful to watch. Bringing to life Britain under Thatcherism, the new series does not disappoint with excellent scripts, direction, and performances across all ten episodes, making it a perfect binge for Lockdown 2.0.
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