Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth in The Crown

Thoughts on The Crown, Season 2

Much as I enjoy The Crown, I have to be honest with myself and accept that I just won’t have time to recap season 2. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have thoughts about it, both good and bad. And they are…

  1. Royal Yacht Britannia looks pretty awesome. I can see why the royal family was sad to give it up. It now resides outside of a mall in Leith, which does feel a little lame, no?
  2. Princess Margaret is a very glamorous trainwreck
  3. And Tony’s nonchalant ‘Oh, I’m just so out of the whole high society/court circles. I’m such an outsider and so above it all because I’m an artiste’ is complete bullshit. He was born in Belgravia and his stepfather was an earl.
  4. The fact that Prince Philip chose to cope with the devastating loss of his sister in a plane crash by learning to fly tells you a lot about his character.
  5. And on the subject of Prince Philip’s character: holy shit, who did the real Prince Philip piss off on this show? Because if we’re going entirely by The Crown’s depiction, he’s a whiny, childish bro; a philanderer, a layabout, and an emotionally abusive asshole. I don’t pretend to be hugely knowledgeable about the royal marriage or Prince Philip’s character, but I do know he has some redeeming qualities. You want to know what else he was up to during these years? Things The Crown can’t be bothered to mention because it’s too busy making bizarre insinuations about his involvement (maybe?) in the Profumo Affair? He was establishing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Commonwealth Study Conferences, joining the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (he already belonged to the British privy council); serving as president of the National Playing Fields Association and The World Wildlife Fund, and serving as Chancellor of the Universities of Edinburgh and Wales. But yeah, he was clearly just a useless jerk who spent all his time partying on tropical islands while his pregnant wife was back at home dealing with things.
  6. Continuing that theme: did it strike anyone else as… mean-spirited that this season, which is almost all about Elizabeth’s and Philip’s marital problems, dropped just after their milestone 70th wedding anniversary? I find it really hard to believe that was an accident.
  7. I want all of Margaret’s costumes. And a lot of the furniture in the Parker household.
  8. The casting of Michael C. Hall as JFK was so wrong I half wonder if we’re being trolled. I mean, it was Jonathan Rhys-Myers-as-Henry-VIII wrong. It’s like, in both those cases, the casting director went, ‘Right, we have an incredibly iconic, well-recorded historical figure. Who do we know who looks, sounds, and acts the least like him? Let’s get that guy!
  9. Jodi Balfour was a bit better cast as Jackie Kennedy, but holy shit someone needed to calm those wigs the hell down. I’m surprised she was able to get through doorways!

    Is he looking down her front?
  10. But the casting of young prince Charles is SPOT ON, down to the ears
  11. Suggesting that Elizabeth’s trip to Ghana came about purely because she was jealous of Jackie and sad that Jackie said mean things about her (and suggesting that both women may have been manipulated in this way by powerful men) does her a serious disservice. She went to Ghana of her own accord, to keep it from going over to the Soviet Union, which was a serious concern to the world. She was taking a risk in order to do her job–one of the hardest parts of her job, no less, which is to try and give the rather motley and reluctant collection of Commonwealth countries something to rally around, playing a delicate diplomatic game without pissing anyone off. Playing into the ‘women are so catty and hateful to each other, not to mention shallow as hell. They’re always competing, and always hating the prom queen because she’s the prettiest’ trope is just offensive.
  12. Does anyone else feel robbed that we didn’t get to see the late-night drinking party between Tommy Lascelles, Philip, and the Queen Mum? I know I sure do!
  13. Edward and Mrs Simpson definitely aren’t going to get any love from this show. Not that they deserve it. They were terrible.
  14. That pug birthday party though…
  15. Alex Jennings has made a hell of a career out of playing royals, hasn’t he? He’s played King Leopold of Belgium (Victoria), the Duke of Windsor (The Crown), George III (Liberty! The American Revolution), and Prince Charles (The Queen). Which means he’s played his own great-great-great nephew, his own great-nephew, and his own great-great-great-great-great grandson and great-great-great grandson.
  16. Was there a reason for the forays into the Macmillans’ marital complications? In a show called The Crown, are we really supposed to care about the prime minister’s wife’s longstanding affair? Why?
  17. It’s astonishing to me that, with their tendency towards cold showers and leaky windows, the kids at Gordonstoun didn’t all have pneumonia.
  18. By the way, apparently that depiction of Gordonstoun isn’t terribly exaggerated, if at all. My grandfather apparently went to a school like that and hated it as much as Charles did.
  19. Oh my God, did it just break your heart to see Charles come back from school and be comforted by all those servants while his mother, who refused to stand up for him against her abusive bully of a husband just withdrew to another room and didn’t even say hello? You see something like that and don’t think, ‘Wow, it’s amazing he had such difficulties with his relationships with women as an adult.’ You think, ‘Holy shit, how did this person ever have any functional relationships with another human being at all?’
  20. Elizabeth gets her haircut and Zadok the Priest plays!
  21. Claire Foy continues to be a marvel. That chilly way she says, ‘Well, we must have her again’ when she hears what Jackie Kennedy was saying about her? Ouch! And that long shot of her standing by the loch at Balmoral, somehow telegraphing a million complicated feelings while barely moving a single muscle on her face? Bravo, madame. We bow down to you.
  22. And finally: in a show called The Crown, which was sold to us, the audience, as an intimate look into the life of Queen Elizabeth, we got a whole season that was about Philip’s complicated family and general douchiness, one Prime Minister’s drug problem and another one’s marital problems, the Kennedy’s drug and marital problems, and Margaret’s desperate desire to beat her ex to the altar, no matter how disastrous that promises to be. Basically, it’s a story about everyone around Elizabeth, and very little about her. And yes, it’s called The Crown, not ‘Elizabeth’ and these are all people connected (even in an extremely peripheral way) to the crown and the institution of the monarchy, but I still feel like the person who’s supposed to be at the centre of this story is such a cipher, and we don’t really spend much time trying to get into her head the way we did, say, Philip’s. Where’s her version of Paterfamilias? When do we really dig into what makes her tick? Or are the makers of the show too afraid to go there, because she is, after all, such an iconic figure, and still alive (not that that stopped them from making a lot of assumptions about Philip…)? Do we need to wait until series 3 to get a deep dive into Elizabeth? Or do they feel there’s not much to dive into, because she lacks dead Nazi sisters and parents who hate her?

 



2 thoughts on “Thoughts on The Crown, Season 2

  1. And on the subject of Prince Philip’s character: holy shit, who did the real Prince Philip piss off on this show? Because if we’re going entirely by The Crown’s depiction, he’s a whiny, childish bro; a philanderer, a layabout, and an emotionally abusive asshole. I don’t pretend to be hugely knowledgeable about the royal marriage or Prince Philip’s character, but I do know he has some redeeming qualities. You want to know what else he was up to during these years? Things The Crown can’t be bothered to mention because it’s too busy making bizarre insinuations about his involvement (maybe?) in the Profumo Affair? He was establishing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Commonwealth Study Conferences, joining the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (he already belonged to the British privy council); serving as president of the National Playing Fields Association and The World Wildlife Fund, and serving as Chancellor of the Universities of Edinburgh and Wales. But yeah, he was clearly just a useless jerk who spent all his time partying on tropical islands while his pregnant wife was back at home dealing with things.

    Look, Philip could be a jerk sometimes. But I get the feeling that the series’ showrunner never really explored the problems Philip had in developing his role as Prince Consort. I mean, didn’t Prince Albert have his own problems? As for the insinuation that he may have slept with a Soviet ballerina who was eleven years his senior? That was pretty ridiculous.

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