Brits love, lambaste new season of Netflix’s ‘The Crown’

As England entered its second national shutdown and the country’s pubs and shops closed their doors once again, Kate Cutler crouched down in front of her television to watch the latest season of “The Crown” on Netflix.

Like millions of others, Cutler had seen previous seasons of the critically acclaimed drama, which traces the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. But this season turned out to be the most gripping yet, introducing future Princess Diana and portraying the early years of her tumultuous marriage to Prince Charles.

« It felt like a soap opera and very entertaining, » said Cutler, 35. « But I was also aware that many of these things, not necessarily verbatim, but in general, were true. »

« General » is not good enough for Dickie Arbiter. For Charles and Diana’s former assistant, Netflix’s dramatic liberties with real-life events that many still remember too clearly are a real scandal.

« It is false, » declared the referee, « and at the end of the day it is a lie with a capital letter. »

Britain is currently suffering from a pandemic that has killed more people here than anywhere else in Europe. It teeters on the brink of a final chaotic break with the EU and faces its worst recession in 300 years. But the treatment of their crowned heads in a very good show that doesn’t pretend to be a documentary is what has worried some Britons, especially readers of the country’s right-wing and realist press, who refuse just Netflix and relax. .

The blurred line between fact and fiction in season 4 of « The Crown » has even led some to accuse the streaming giant of macabrely profiting from the royal family’s pain for its own financial gain. It doesn’t matter that the British tabloids routinely do the same.

This is « trolling on a Hollywood budget, » an unnamed source at the palace told the British press. Friends of the 72-year-old Prince Charles, who goes awry in the series, broke protocol by publicly jumping to his defense and complaining that royalty was being « kidnapped and exploited. »

Previous seasons of « The Crown » also contained factual inaccuracies and real-life events altered for dramatic effect. The queen, for example, did not harbor burning jealousy of Jacqueline Kennedy, as described in season 2. (Not that they were fast friends either). But those inaccuracies didn’t provoke the kind of vitriol he’s encountered last season.

That could be because there are more people who can remember the events narrated in the last season than those who lived the previous eras shown. Or it could be that those earlier historical shifts largely « painted ‘The Firm’ in a good light, » wrote Phil Harrison, author of « The Age of Static: How Television Explains Modern Britain, » wrote in the The Guardian newspaper.

Not so this season.

In the new episodes, covering the period from 1977 to 1990, Elizabeth is often seen as cold and distant, putting the needs of the monarchy before those of her family. His sister, the frivolous Princess Margaret, continues to enrage against the limitations of royal decorum, often with the help of a liquid soda.

As for the time of the show’s heir, a stooped Charles is portrayed as an emotionally unavailable scoundrel who marries a naive young Diana despite being in love with his married ex-girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles. The fact that viewers also know how the story unfolds – the couple’s bitter and public divorce and Diana’s death in a car accident in Paris in 1997 – does not help improve her image.

While Elizabeth may not be amused by the show, « the queen is pragmatic, » said the referee, who served as spokesman for Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, it goes with work.

Charles, however, « will probably be a bit upset, » Arbiter added. “He’s portraying him as the big bad wolf and he wasn’t. He portrays him as a perpetrator and Diana as the victim. Not once has he said a bad word about her.

In the view of royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams, « what we’re seeing for the most part is not people but cartoons. » He also put a great deal of responsibility on Netflix’s digital shoulders, suggesting that the survival of the monarchy might be at stake, or at least offering an unflattering take on the credulity of his fellow Britons.

« The Netflix audience is new, » Fitzwilliams said. «Many of them are young spectators who would not know [whether] what is being described is frankly false or a distorted truth. If they are led to believe that the royal family is so monstrous, selfish, selfish … you might ask, why have a royal family if it is so? «

The intense scrutiny and devotion to the British royal family is nothing new, of course, neither here nor in the US, where many sycophantic Americans seem not to understand that their ancestors in fact decided to get rid of this very family in 1776.

Almost a quarter of a century after Diana’s death, the circumstances surrounding her break with her in-laws and the pressures to which she was subjected are still debated. More recently, the BBC has been forced to launch an investigation into whether correspondent Martin Bashir used unethical means to secure his explosive 1995 interview with the princess, who declared that there were « three of us » in their marriage. Prince William, the eldest son of Charles and Diana, supports the investigation.

An endless stream of books, exhibits, documentaries and films on all aspects of the innermost life of royalty continues to fill the shelves and on the airwaves.

Some of them have also made questionable claims. But it seems that « The Crown » is carried out to a different standard.

The show’s obsessive attention to period detail (getting the costumes and set design perfect) and an acclaimed cast that includes Oscar winner Olivia Colman as the queen and Gillian Anderson as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher It has apparently led some viewers to believe that the same authenticity applies to the script.

« It is a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other television productions, Netflix should be very clear at first that it is just that, » Britain’s culture secretary Oliver Dowden said recently. He added that the series must come with a warning label so that young viewers who did not experience the events do not mistake it for reality.

Even Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Margaret, has stepped in and told the official « The Crown » podcast that the show had a « moral responsibility » to inform viewers that it was a drama, not a documentary.

Eyebrows have also been raised on how Prince Harry and his wife, former actress Meghan Markle, felt capable of signing a multi-million dollar deal to produce content with Netflix when the company created something so scathing about their family.

Few observers have bothered to point out that the same online magic that allows viewers to stream “The Crown” on demand also allows them to verify its veracity in milliseconds, if they so choose.

Like one of the show’s many fans, Cutler said she found herself googling key scenes and controversial moments so she could figure out in her own mind where to draw the line between reality and drama.

Perhaps, he said, the current controversy could be partly due to the way the beloved Diana remains among many Britons.

“The wounds are still too fresh. … It brings things back to the surface, ”he said. « I feel sorry for William and Harry. They were both very young when Diana died. It must be very traumatic for them to have all this accumulated as entertainment.

« But I’m still going to see it, because it’s really good. »

Times editor Henry Chu contributed to this report.

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The entry Brits love, lambaste new season of Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ was first published in Noticias por el Mundo.