The Crown season 5 reviews are in, and most critics agree that this is the series’ worst season ever. The dramatization of Queen Elizabeth II’s life first aired on Netflix in 2016 with its first season. The series has been airing in two-season increments since then, showing a different phase of the Queen’s life with a different actress playing the lead role each time, beginning with Claire Foy portraying the monarch at the commencement of her reign, which lasted over than 70 years.
Olivia Colman, a two-time Oscar winner, played the Queen in seasons 3 and 4 of The Crown while being flanked by a fresh ensemble cast. Imelda Staunton, who played Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter, will play the part in seasons 5 and 6 of The Crown. In particular, the high-profile separation between Prince Charles (now King Charles III), played by Dominic West, and Princess Diana, played by Elizabeth Debicki, will be covered in the new season, which premieres on November 9.
The embargo on reviews of The Crown season 5 was lifted today, allowing critics to express their complete impressions on the next episodes. Unfortunately for series fans, the prevailing perception appears to be that this is the series’ poorest season to date. While almost everyone praises Debicki’s Diana portrayal, many critics find the season’s storytelling to be tawdry, clumsy, or both. Read the following quotes from various critics:
Kristen Baldwin, EW:
“We cannot expect The Crown to be an exhaustive record of the royal family’s (fictionalized) life, but Morgan’s regular detours prohibit any one storyline from gaining momentum.”
Daniel D’Addario, Variety:
“There’s a great deal of reign left — the death of Diana, the Blair decade, and the Iraq war lie ahead, along with who knows how much more modern cultural history. And the likely increase in pace and change in dynamic may help the show find its footing as it ends. But, to borrow a phrase from Queen Elizabeth’s own speech about her bad year, this is not a season on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. It’s a crisp line, communicating meaning about the state of mind and general attitude of the reserved person delivering it. Too bad Peter Morgan couldn’t let it speak for itself.”
Kayleigh Donaldson, The Wrap:
“Its biggest weaknesses continue to be moments of clunky exposition to explain historical details or side characters for American viewers and non-royal buffs. Names and tidbits are shoved into conversation with the subtlety of a Wikipedia entry.”
Angie Han, THR:
“The Crown‘s fifth season makes the case that it’s a conversation worth having — not by condemning the royals as incomprehensible monsters, but by offering them the grace of seeing them as simply human.”
Carly Lane, Collider:
“However, there’s only so much that the show itself seems willing to take the monarchy to task for certain behaviors. Morgan’s scripts frequently teeter between calling out the royal family for their out-of-touch behaviors and misguided spending habits, like calling on taxpayers to foot the bill for the Britannia’s refurbishment, and shedding light on their charitable works or being sympathetic to their supposed plights, often within the very same episode.”
Dominic Patten, Deadline:
“Here, with his heir now the sovereign, West becomes an endless distraction as you watch the actor again and again attempt to contort himself into a character he simply is not and never should be… [And] like so much of this season of The Crown and unlike past PMs in the series, the expanse of the talented [Jonny Lee] Miller’s role and [John] Major’s service to the monarchy grind joylessly along as a gray cloud in a dark sky.”
Ben Travers, IndieWire:
“Despite scripts that toil through the pulpy details of a very public divorce, strong design work on every level, and enlivening portrayals from the fresh ensemble (Lesley Manville is so good in her criminally truncated time as Princess Margaret), “The Crown” Season 5 suffers from a narrowed point of view.”
Explained: All The Crown Season 5 Controversy
The numerous controversies that have floated around this season may have contributed to the negative attitude regarding The Crown season 5. First and foremost, some pop culture analysts and royal insiders have criticized the season’s usage of Diana’s divorce and death as a plot thread, going beyond simple Diana weariness after a year that saw Netflix’s Diana: The Musical and Kristen Stewart in the biopic Spencer. Despite the fact that the show stated that they would not display her death on television, they were criticized for using the tragedy.
The Crown has also recently been under fire from a number of high-profile sources, including Dame Judi Dench, for failing to give a historically accurate portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II’s life. As a result of the criticism, Netflix added a disclaimer to the series defining it as a dramatization. It is possible that these disagreements would not have been as contentious if Queen Elizabeth had not died shortly before the season’s premiere, but if that is the case, it may have colored people’s perceptions of the show.