Critics Are All Saying The Same Thing About The Crown Season 6: Part 1

The nation is in crisis in The Crown’s sixth season. Unfortunately, so are its reviews.
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in The Crown
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in The Crown

It’s been just over seven years since the first season of The Crown hit the metaphorical shelves of streaming giant Netflix.

The award-winning initially featured Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II for two seasons, depicting the young royal’s rapid ascent to the throne.

She was then succeeded by Olivia Colman for the next two seasons, which charted everything from Margaret Thatcher’s premiership to the wedding (and divorce) of King Charles and the late Princess Diana.

Season five saw yet another cast reshuffle, with Imelda Staunton taking the lead as the action moved further into the mid-1990s.

And that brings us to season six.

Imelda Staunton, Olivia Colman and Claire Foy have all taken the lead in past seasons of The Crown
Imelda Staunton, Olivia Colman and Claire Foy have all taken the lead in past seasons of The Crown

The final series – split into two parts – is set to cover the events of 1997 to 2005, encompassing Princess Diana’s tragic death, King Charles and Queen Camilla’s wedding and the early relationship of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

But while the show has previously been met with critical acclaim, the same can’t be said for the first half of season six, which began streaming on Thursday.

Here’s a selection of what the reviews have said so far...

“Beyond all its formal failures, late-period Crown is also impossibly hamstrung by being set well within living memory. Even if there were anything to engage with, the memories and consequent questions that crowd into the viewer’s mind at every stage would make it impossible.

“Was Charles really so astute about what her death would mean, so quickly? It seems unlikely, from everything we knew then, and the mountains we have learned since... We would have seen it. The suspension of disbelief can never be established. Ghost Diana dances among ruins.”

BBC (2/5)

“In its sixth and final season, The Crown doesn’t waste a second in getting to its most obvious, looming event.

“Instead of righting the near-disaster of last season, it leans into its flaws, including the miscasting of the earthy Dominic West as Prince Charles and the endless, unenlightening reconstructions of the real images and videos.”

“While the shadow of death can offer creative tension, it also makes The Crown feel like an ailing project. ‘You’ve taught us what it means to be British,’ the ghost of Princess Diana tells the Queen (yes, you read that correctly).

“And The Crown, similarly, has taught the world what it meant to be British, in the 20th century. But it has also run out of road – run out of history to retread – and, on its last legs, has less to say than ever, about what it means to be British now.”

The Crown completes its demolition job on the late Queen’s character, a six-series arc which has taken us from Claire Foy’s bright young woman to Imelda Staunton’s sour old boot… Now she is little more than a hairdo: no interior life, no personality, no intelligence.

The drama trudges towards its terrible conclusion… [but] when set against real-life events, The Crown’s dramatic reconstructions feel limp.”

“In humanising [Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed] in life and in death (there are no ‘ghosts’ here), juxtaposed against the reigning monarch’s stoicism and commitment to grating tradition, the show invites the audience to consider the choices made by the British royal family, which have contributed to its relic-like state.

“With this devastating first section of its final chapter, Netflix’s crown jewel bids farewell to an icon, and retakes its throne.”

“The Crown’s biggest misstep comes in episode four, Aftermath, which spans the six days after the crash. As the country reels from the news of Diana’s death, Britons flood the streets around Buckingham Palace to grieve and place thousands of flowers in her memory.

“Yet for the royal family, the People’s Princess is not yet gone. Diana — her memory? her spirit? her ghost? — appears to Charles and later Elizabeth for brief and heartfelt conversations, offering consolation and guidance, though not quite absolution. It’s an odd flight of maudlin fancy for a series that’s handled most events in the royal family’s lives with a grounded — if fictionalised — realism.”

The Times (4/5)

“A big takeaway from the four episodes released (apparitions aside) is how very affecting they are, how well the story is told, despite, obviously, mining tragedy for ratings. Yes, there are factual inaccuracies, liberties taken and some bits that made me feel downright queasy, such as Prince William lying in bed checking his clock radio at 11.13pm, blissfully unaware that the seconds were ticking to his mother’s death…

“Deciding a star rating is difficult, because while some “imaginings” are gauche, most performances here are excellent. The question is, is it a compelling piece of television with very high production values that makes you want to see more? The answer is yes.”

The first four episodes of The Crown season six are now streaming on Netflix. The final six will follow on Thursday 14 December.

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