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  • Writer's pictureSteve

The Crown (Season 5)

I found history lessons at school to be an interminable chore. I'm not just referring to the details of the many, many battles we were forced to endure, dragged unceremoniously around Normandy, hiking Mont St Michel and giving the Bayeux Tapestry the once over, like dawdling through a barren, featureless cave, mind elsewhere, where the sun was bright and the beaches and teenaged girls proved to be far more inviting. And even less inviting were the lives of the privileged, borne out of luck. My patience and empathy for them ended as soon as it began.

As you might imagine as the decades passed between then and now, I would have matured enough perhaps to evolve more than a passing interest in those same lives. Yet still, I retain what little time I have to dabble in history to it's most recent events. I don't care what Henry VIII did then, anymore than I do now, for example, but when this history ventures into gossip and it demands our current attention, it ceases to be history (for now, at least) and becomes news. Or in this case, entertainment.

So to be honest, I may not be the most well-averse reviewer on this subject, if only for the reasons mentioned above. As far as The Crown is concerned, this is the first series I have even bothered with. I am reliably informed that there have been wholesale cast changes for this season, which in itself is not exactly an original concept (this also happened between Season 2 and 3, I believe) and it only piqued my interest because of all of the negative press the series has received of late, suggesting that this entirely fictional story was in some way in poor taste, given the demise of both Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in recent years. When did good taste ever get in the way of Netflix's profits? That isn't a moral dig, more glib, half-hearted, observation.

Making up stories about the living is perfectly legitimate, apparently, but not if they've died? Loosely (and I mean loosely, though my knowledge of its voracity of authenticity is questionable) based on events around the Windsor's unending dramatic strife has long been the staple of binge-watching Netflix subscribers for years already and this makes no attempt to upset that applecart. Released to much bluster and the kind of aggressive marketing enjoyed only by most eventual Oscar winners, it would come as no surprise that this classy and costly ten episode run would land with a grand belly-flop of a splash.

Concentrating much of its running time with the back end of Charles and Diana's marriage, the de-commissioning of Britannia (the Royal yacht) and the usual shenanigans of the senior royals and what terrible, pitiable lives these corn-fed millionaires are forced to lead in the name of Monarchy. It really is awful for them. How they keep getting up every morning to their tax-free pre-prepared breakfasts and chauffeured appointments where they are universally applauded and adored. How tiresome. It puts you right off your foie gras of an evening.

Universally lamentable though they may be, the public continue to be fascinated by their underhanded skulduggery and plum-mouthed sequined existence. Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps this microcosm of familial standards, or lack thereof, is a marker by which to regulate our own selves? Maybe it's just simple relish in their torture, the entitled rich have never been received abundantly well anywhere, by little more than polite clapping and flag-waving to my knowledge, not by the plebeian masses, at least, of which we are all included, unless you have a title and more than a dozen people employed just to fold your linen and open your post.

Agree with the idea and concept of Monarchy or not, it would be a downright lie to say that I wasn't entertained in the same way I got my kicks out of Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy in Dallas, forty years before. Different country, different money, but still lots of it, shared out unequally by a huge family, who were always (almost all, Gary Ewing, we still love you, no wonder you left for Knot's Landing) hatching some kind of cunning plan to get more of the family dollar. There was lust, envy, avarice, murder, blackmail and grubby double-dealing aplenty. Ring any bells?

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