“The Crown” season 4 review

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Richard Baker

A panoramic billboard advertising the latest series of Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ which is now airing on demand, shows the main characters of the British royal family – and featuring the relationship and romance between Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)

Sophia Giallanza, News Editor

The Netflix series “The Crown” was released on Nov 15, 2020 and was the number one most watched show on Netflix (U.S.) for a week. The show follows the British royal family through the decade of the 80’s, keying in on the tumultuous relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana and the controversial leadership of the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. 

In the series, we get a glimpse of what really went on behind the scenes of the infamous marital disaster of Charles and Diana. The show takes viewers through the events that led to their betrothal and what eventually caused their demise. However, what was the most emotionally moving was their portrayal of the late Princess Diana.  

A major aspect of the series was Diana’s struggle to cope with her loveless marriage in addition to the pressures of royal life. In the show, we see Diana exhibit signs of mental health issues which is then heightened through her battle with bulimia. Her physical isolation in the palace and her knowledge of Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles aid in her psychological deterioration. 

In a particularly moving scene, we see Diana go to the Queen in hopes of gaining her acceptance and love after realizing Charles is being unfaithful. After giving a heartfelt speech, she embraces the Queen with a hug, during which Queen Elizabeth stays completely still. In that moment, the audience gets a clear understanding that the royal family is cold and unsupportive. This leads watchers and, at that time, the world to empathize with her situation and obsess over her persistent caring nature despite her hardships. 

Overall, the portrayal of Princess Di by actress Emma Corrin made the season memorable. The resemblance was striking and her ability to express this complex character was spot on. I am also glad that writers chose to convey prevalent issues like mental health and eating disorders. For these reasons alone, I would recommend the watch.

On another note, the depiction of the infamous Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of Britain from 1979 to 1990, was nothing short of stellar. We don’t just get the opportunity to see Thatcher’s personal life that aids in her extreme conservative views, but we experience her conflicted relationship with the Queen in addition to the effects of her policies on real people. 

The series doesn’t directly insult her, but rather insinuates the idea that she is oblivious to the hardships that lower class people face daily. We see her as an extremely dedicated woman who succeeds in a world where men dominate the political field. As a result, this leads the audience to have a mixed view of her. Many will disagree with her politically, but also admire her hardworking and headstrong personality.  

Aside from the acting and well developed plot, a memorable aspect of the series was the costume design. The costumes of major political figures, like Thatcher and the royals, were almost exact replicas. A notable example is the show’s take on Diana’s 80’s blazers and ballroom gowns which caused a media frenzy. The costumes looked so similar that on social media, many accounts put side by side pictures of the real Princess Diana and actress Emma Corrin wearing the costumes. 

They also utilized the costumes to convey meaning that was congruent with the story. In the beginning, we see Princess Diana wearing plain outfits that fully cover her body and towards the end we see her looking stunning in elaborate strapless gowns that suggest she is becoming more comfortable with herself and her position. Overall, I give the costume design a 10/10 due to their acute exactness and creativity. 

In the end, the series did a great job encompassing the political and social unrest of the decade. From dealing with apartheid to displaying the mental effects of a stressful home environment, the show reached new lengths in its newest season.