The Crown: Season 5 on Netflix

Though not a monarchist myself, in any way. I have been a fan of this Peter Morgan (The Last King of Scotland, Frost/Nixon) Netflix series. Seasons one through four were marvellous watches loosely based on the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Claire Foy and Olivia Colman had played Queen Elizabeth over the first four seasons with the mantle (or crown) being now passed onto Imelda Staunton.

All parts have been recast as the characters are now a little older than when we last left off. I know that I am not a casting agent, not by a long shot, but I do know what works and what doesn’t. This does not work. Each seems a little off. Not right. Maybe except for Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Maleficent) as Princess Margaret, though the excellent actress is not given a ton to do, and Jonny Lee Miller (from television’s Elementary) as Prime Minister John Major. All others…well. they and the series have seen better days.

Previously what the series does well is make us understand that behind the crowns and pomp and circumstance there are real people. People who have strengths and flaws. People who have been placed in pretty much impossible situations just because of the family they were born into. Putting a human face on Elizabeth, Philip, Margaret, Charles, Diana, and others. Well, that humanity has largely been erased here. In season five they have all been rendered caricatures. People we can no longer relate to. The story and characters now were keeping us at arm’s length.

Despite this being about the Crown or Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Vera Drake), this season is largely focused on a person who was seen as the black sheep by the Royal Family. Diana Spencer or, as she is known after marrying Prince Charles (Dominic West – from television’s The Wire), Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki – The Great Gatsby – 2013, Tenet) was all anyone thought about in regards to the British Royal Family in the 1980s.

She was the most “popular” member. By far. She was the glowing star here as she cared for people. All types of people. The sick, the poor, the young, and those with AIDS. The love felt towards the statuesque blonde during the 80s and 90s is not translated on screen here. I do not know if it is Debicki’s karaoke-style performance (she seems more intent on getting the voice and head tilt right than she is on bringing the Princess’s emotions to light) or the story set up. Whatever the reason you just do not connect with Diana.

This is not something which just affects the Diana character as it is everywhere to be found. Queen Elizabeth does nothing, Prince Charles is completely unlikeable, Princess Margaret is merely wallpaper, and it goes on and on. There is no buoy to cling to in this neverending ocean. No matter how much I wanted there to be.

There is a sixth season planned. It will be the final one and maybe the time has come…just writing out loud, folks.