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Dear Kay,

It’s all different now, you know? A new season of The Crown has arrived, and I’m not really feeling it.

The first four seasons of The Crown have the glossy coating of time over them. The intrigues of the 1930s through the ’70s are distant enough that it all feels like a big-budget, dishy, fairytale retelling.

I was entranced because of the production design, the storytelling, and the performances: Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, wow. The episode about the mining disaster in the Welsh town of Aberfan from Season 3—heartbreaking.

Now, though, Season 5 of The Crown is arriving at events that I watched happen in real time, and it’s not so much fun. The British royal family has forever been Topic One of the tabloids, and The Crown has consistently shown us how that voyeuristic coverage has cost them so much.

Maybe it’s cost us, too. What is our fascination with these people? Why do we keep watching?

I confess that watching the trailer up top got me curious about Imelda Staunton as the latest actor to portray the queen. She looks formidable. But I don’t have the stomach to watch the marriage of Charles and Diana disintegrate. Again. It was bad the first time.

My solution? Start over with Season 1!

I’m curious what everybody’s take is on this new season.




  • I agree with your thoughts about Season 5. I don’t plan on watching it. Enough already! I think the choice of Imelda Staunton for the Queen was a poor one. There are many other series out there to watch as I am knitting.

    • To me, our collective fascination with royalty is the archetypal need to feel another human being can be directly connected to the divine, in lieu of the deeply held historical belief in the presumed inability of the masses to have our own direct connection. Hierarchy, patriarchy, gender, skin color: all ways we continue to sort humans into manageable/left brain categories. The information age has made it next to impossible to maintain the illusion of the divine right of royalty. Harry & Megan were smart to get out with their sanity intact, & I hope their children have more realistic & loving lives.

      I was never a huge follower of the royals, but there has been some interesting historic info in many early episodes. Big fan of Imelda Staunton & cmon, if you could swallow pretty Claire Foy (with a chin, as the young queen’s profile on the new stamp in season 3 glaringly shows) morph into Olivia Colman (fabulous but way less chin & more of a match with Elizabeth), you can surely squint yer eyes for Imelda!

  • Ann!!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!! My husband and I were just saying this exact thing the other night! Meh. Who wants to live through this again? It is very clear in our memories. Love your solution though!

  • Absolutely loving season 5! I’m a Brit that remembers all these events very well but seeing some behind the scenes happenings that we just knew was going on but they all denied is great. Imelda Marcos is good. In my opinion the Queen was not at her best in these years and IM is portraying her well.
    In episode 2 when Philip talks to Diana I wanted to shout ‘I knew he treated her like this’ it’s excellent

    • Imelda Marcos? Oh Freud? lol Perhaps you have a thing for shoes as well as knitting?

    • It’s dark and depressing. The actress playing Diana does a great impersonation; she is wicked thin. The side trip into the background of the Fayed family feels like so much filler. We quit watching.

    • Am watching with a jaundiced eye on truth- haha! Diana is more cunning than she is remembered which is probably true.
      Portrayal of Charles is what I always thought of him. Looking for mommies love but going the wrong way to get it.
      Phillips is snarky but he keeps it interesting. Let’s face it these people don’t live in the real world on or off tv.

  • I’m in London for business as I write this. Ads are everywhere for The Crown. However, I am also conflicted about this season. It was so painful to watch live. I agree back to Claire and Matt

    • I have always watched this fabulous show as a take on a woman trying to balance work vs home. This season will show that balance at its’ messiest!

  • Sharing the queasiness of watching this “family” becoming easier to root against with each episode. Even the actors look uneasy in their roles. I will watch to the end knowing how much more cringeworthy Andrew becomes, how truly cruel Charles and his consort remain, etc. A slow moving train wreck. If Season 6 production hasn’t begun, I hope it never does. The Queen is dead and we’ve learned enough.

  • Yep. Something doesn’t feel right. Seasons 1-4 felt like watching a dramatization of history. This feels like I should look away out of decency. Also, I’ve been hearing more and more people coming out saying parts of it are far from the truth, like the business with the yacht. Try A Stitch in Time on Amazon Prime. Costume-makers recreate clothing from historical works of art. Fascinating and will be appreciated by any fiber enthusiast!

    • Thanks for sharing the tip about a stitch in time !

  • Haven’t started Season 5, and I know I’ll watch it through to the end – Season 7, maybe? – but I’m not as enthusiastic either. We (people of a certain age) watched at least half of Season 4 in real time too, but you’re right, Ann, when you say it seems like Season 5 is covers a time when we went, “Ahhhh, then this fairy tale isn’t real at all.” And that was hard then, and it’s hard now. It also feels different because the Queen is dead. Not that she ever defended herself to the media, but she can’t now.

  • I completely agree with you. Imelda Staunton is not believable as the Queen for me. In fact, I feel the same about the other actors except for the actress portraying Diana. And it is so sad to watch her unhappiness as I too saw that unfold in real time. I don’t think I want to see that played out again.

    • Totally agree! Imelda doesn’t look like the Queen at all, and nor does that actor resemble Charles in any way. I loved the first 4 seasons but not caring for this season at all.

  • It’s entertainment! The costumes, traditions and general opulence of the royal lives are fascinating. I’m not reliving history, just watching a show — and who doesn’t love Dominic West?

    • I agree, it’s fantasy not history. Shall we say, dramatized history?

  • Before I start this season, I’ve started over at season 1…and the blush is off the rose for me. I’ve always been fascinated by the royal family but I’m not sure why now. They destroyed lives either directly or indirectly… for what? To preserve an institution that served One Family.

    I got up in the middle of the night to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. And I watched their marriage disintegrate in slow motion. And I’ve always disliked Camilla…but now it seems like so much folly and wasted time.

    …and yet I’ll watch The Crown but this time with a different lens and attitude about the family.

  • My favorite season was the one during the 60’s (Season 3?) because it takes place when I lived in the UK as a child. I vividly remember the Aberfan disaster because it was the first time I was aware of a disaster of that magnitude and I remember feeling such horror that something like that could happen. I have watched the first episode of Season 5 and do think Imelda Staunton is excellent and I’ll continue to watch because some of my favorite actors are in this season — like Leslie Manville! But I’ll reserve judgment until after I’ve watched the whole thing.

  • As much as I like Dominic West as an actor, watching this season is neither pleasant nor enjoyable. Not sure I will finish it.

  • I agree, I stopped watching after season 3.

  • Season 5 is definitely different from the previous seasons. Seasons 1-4 had more “stand-alone” episodes about historical events (the smog that killed so many people; the Welsh mining event) that I found to be very interesting. Season 5 is more of a continuing soap opera. That said, I think Lesley Manville has turned in an award winning performance. King Charles never was and never will be as hot as Dominic West. Jonathan Pryce continues the established line of excellent acting in his Prince Phillip performance. Imelda Staunton? So-so. Maybe she will hit her stride in Season 6. I will be there to watch it.

  • I started rewatching from episode 1 in preparation for the release of season 5. I broke and watched S5E1 out of order, but will be going back to where I was. The actress who plays Diana is eerily well cast, the rest of them not so much.

  • Half way through. Just told my Aunt, season 5 makes the Queen dumber, Phillip smarter, Charles more spoiled, and Diana a cunning. B—h. Entertaining not historical.

    • I totally agree. It’s a Netflix drama based on history. I’ll keep watching but this season is hard to stomach. Netflix did a poor job this time around.

    • Yes to the Queen dumber observation and the rest! My mom was a pretty smart cookie and could never figure out the remote controls, either, so I enjoyed that, but other little things just don’t sit right. Lesley Manville is great!

  • Could not agree more Ann! I found it all very sad. I believe it was my first journey into true melancholy. After the last scene it felt as if they should cue the song, Is That All There Is?
    Disheartening to say the very least.

  • Nope. I stopped at Season 2. I started realizing that they can’t really portrait the truth on many things. If you want to watch it for the fiction it is -go ahead- but realize it is fiction. They have reached a point where there is too much now in living memory to get away with it. I also gave up Netflix because all the stuff I enjoyed went to Britbox.

  • Couldn’t wait for Season 5 of The Crown to stream…got myself comfy with my latest knitting project and started viewing. My husband, who never saw one episode of The Crown, walked by and briefly paused to watch. After 1 minute he commented that the actress playing the queen was not a good fit! I had to agree and as much as I love Dominick Dunne, I wasn’t feeling his portrayal of Charles. Never moved on to Episode 2!

  • I gave up after Season 2. Too many incidents that I was questioning took the fun out of it. I did enjoy Season 1 though. It doesn’t feel like history when it is within my memory and I am uncomfortable with it, just as I am uncomfortable watching tv reenactments of the JFK assassination and aftermath. I am a Canadian who loves history, and knitting.

  • I didn’t have a tv or pay much attention to news when most of this was going on so I only know this headlines. I’m watching but struggling through because I ran out of other things to watch. The show does a poor job of switching the actors between seasons. They don’t come close to looking like who they might have grown into the next season. They do a poor job picking actors who look like the real life people. Charles in this season has a weird way of chewing on his lip that is distracting and annoying. I keep in the back of my head that this is a Netflix drama. It’s based on real life but you can’t take everything in the show as gospel. After watching the show, I have a lot of sympathy for the royals and I also think they were a bunch of spoiled brats too who were horrid to each other.

  • Never got into it. WAY too much soap opera for me. The sets and costumes are remarkable–glorious even, but that’s the only appeal for me. No season 5 on my horizon.

  • I thought I wouldn’t watch it, but it crept up on me. Jonathan Pryce is fine, but he’s no Matt Smith, if you know what I mean. And Imelda. lovely, but I’d just gotten used to Olivia Colman. It’s okay, it’s just tv. And Diana does wear giant sweaters over floofy skirts, so we get that!

    • Agree! It is better tv than most, it’s fiction, and I can knit to it.

  • For years, when I’d try to get my Mom to watch a show about, say, WW2 or the Great Depression, she’d say “no thanks, I lived through that.” I didn’t understand. Now that I’m 70 myself, I get it. I’ll probably watch Season 5, but I share your sentiments!

  • Exactamente pensé lo mismo ,no logré ver más de 10 minutos,no está tan interesante como para tejer viéndola

  • Well, we’re watching but honestly, after the whole Sussex fiasco and now the death of the Queen, my fascination with, and tolerance for the royals is finally reaching its limits. Who are these people who live lives of unimaginable opulence and relative idleness drawing mainly from taxes paid by the ordinary joes? Many people in the UK cling to the idea of tradition and a strange kind of respect for this family whose roots stretch so far back in time but really…everyone’s roots stretch far back in time. We all come from ancient origins. I’m personally over it all.

  • I think Jonny Lee Miller as John Major is by FAR the best thing in it this time around.

    • He’s always good, my favorite Mr. Knightly.

  • I’m not watching! It was too intense at the time. I can’t look at Charles or Camilla without remembering. Infidelity masquerading as true love. I don’t know how Diana’s boys put up with it. I guess William was brainwashed into kingly behavior. Harry got it right, though–marry whom you want and get out of Dodge. The story of Elizabeth was a fairy tale in so many ways. Now that story has ended. Time to dismantle the monarchy.

  • Ditto for our household. Can’t watch the cluster yet again.

  • I agree with almost all the comments so far. Poor casting and when they keep changing the actors each season, I can’t tell who is who. Also I lived through a lot of it. Nostalgia for my own life has never been something I enjoy much. After 2 episodes, we’ll probably keep watching it because we don’t have all the streaming services and it’s a pain to keep looking through so much trash for stuff to watch. Too bad I can’t knit and read. I have a stack of British historical and domestic fiction, essays to read.

  • The Crown has ALWAYS been fictional and I am certain this season will be no different. The truth is always more nuanced than we the audience like in our dramas. I have always thought the simplified version of “Diana – sweet/good; Charles – lying/bad” was way too easy an explanation for what in reality was probably two people intensely unsuited for each other with vastly different expectations of their roles and futures. I think each has some blame and some sympathy in this situation. I’m not sure I am ready for a season of white-washing Diana and bashing Charles. I am also not sure I will enjoy Imelda as the Queen, especially after the fantastic job both Claire and Olivia did in the role. I am holding off starting the season – maybe I will hold off forever.

  • As much as we’re led to believe this series is historical truth it has definitely taken a lot of libertwith the truth. None the less these people are not heroes. I am revolted by their behaviour and never have watched any of the Crown. I did however enjoy Victoria.

  • The monarchy brings tourist dollars (and probably lots of charity dollars as well). Would they still get those dollars without a monarchy as have other European countries? Maybe, but perhaps not as much. Maybe, over time, their vestigial importance will dwindle to nothing, but in the meantime, I don’t think egg-throwing will accomplish anything good. I was thinking of forgoing this last season of The Crown, but then I read somewhere – maybe here? – that it gets better in later episodes. And also now I want to cast my own judgment on Imelda Staunton’s Queen.

    • The production is made for profit and gain. Not charity

  • I have a hard time with biopics depicting individuals that are still alive, and this was true of The Crown from the beginning (and even more painfully so for the current season, judging from the publicity coverage). I didn’t watch the series. It seems very wrong on a number of levels. I join you in wondering about our culture’s insatiable appetite for all of this.

  • Having watched so far, I will start watching season 5. We’ll see. The casting of Imelda Staunton is unfortunate, because whoever she is playing will always have some shadow of Delores Umbridge (saccharin but evil Harry Potter character) to me.

    • Ha! My husband said he can only ever see Imelda Staunton in pink.

  • I felt different when this came out too. Maybe it is the death of the Queen. I have A feeling your thoughts have summoned it up.

  • I’m watching it too, and it has kind of lost its luster for me as well. I’m planning on soldiering through it, because the other seasons were so good. I’m hoping it gets better.

  • Interesting comments. I felt a bit queasy about this season too. Imelda Staunton transcends Umbridge for me, and I’ve seen that face plastered on posters during teacher protests! She is shown saying nothing at times, and this decision to maintain a neutral facade and withhold comment seems very British to me. I liked the third (I think) episode where the El Fayads are introduced. And of course, it’s not reality, but I didn’t expect that.

  • My goodness, Ann. Who ever believed that “fairytale wedding” nonsense in the first place?
    This season is in many ways more gripping than the previous four; a breath of truth at last, although it may end up unnecessarily inventing stuff to drive up the soap opera quotient. The episode about the Al Fayed family was completely fascinating and new, to this US viewer, at least. I must go on the record, however, and say that Dominic West, despite my liking him as an actor, is the wrong man to play middle-aged Charles, especially when he has to follow Josh O’Connor, perfectly cast as the younger prince. If the dialogue and situation hadn’t made it clear, I wouldn’t have known who West’s character was. West is much more a James Bond type. And speaking of Bonds, Timothy Dalton as the older Peter Townsend – thank you, casting directors! And Lesley Mandeville as Princess Margaret: yes, I’m watching avidly.

    • Manville, not Mandeville. Sorry!

  • I have not and will NOT watch The Crown. I am appalled and disgusted at the way the public skewers the women who marry into the “Firm”. They have done it consistently throughout the decades (centuries?) and it is ridiculously misogynistic. Why would anyone give two seconds of their precious time to a predictable, monotonous, higher than thou, boring, wasteful, and out of touch monarchy? It would be much more interesting if there were a well developed story of life after the monarchy completely collapses and Britain can finally come to terms with its true understanding its status as a country. Call it Brave New Britain.

    • Brave New Britain: hasten the day!

  • I’ve watched the first four episodes and so far, okay. What I am finding terrible distracting is Elizabeth Debicki’s height! I looked up how tall Diana was, 5’10”, and how tall Elizabeth Debicki is. She is 6’3″! She towers over everyone. She uses the doe-eyed look that Diana had a lot. And when she does most of the time she’s hunched over. I’m not always able to suspend my disbelief when watching movies, and this casting choice didn’t make it easy for me to do so.

  • As a devoted Anglophile, I have watched the royal family from the time of Diana’s engagement through the ascension of Charles to the throne. I rose before dawn to watch the weddings of Charles and Diana, Andrew and Fergie, the funeral of the Princess of Wales and most recently the funeral of QE11. Anyone who has been caught up in these events and has read so much about them as they occurred knows that The Crown is fictional. I have watched the first two seasons repeatedly. The sets are magnificent, the acting phenomenal. This is historical fiction as if reading from a book. If you want to know the facts, they are easily researched. Although the current season is a reminder of a bad time, the settings and the acting remains phenomenal, especially the actor who plays Prince Charles. Very entertaining. It is theatre and easy to desperate fact from fiction. I am quite enjoying it with my knitting this weekend. ☕️

  • I haven’t finished the season but I highly recommend watching episode 3 (or 2??)- the one called Mou Mou. It stands on its own and is about characters we don’t know well. It is poignant and really well done.

    • I agree. This is the episode that really hooked me on this season.

  • As I watch Season 5, I’m reliving my years in the UK, which this season almost exactly covers. The Charles & Diana story was up in our faces in the newspapers and tv nearly every day, and it’s interesting to see this imagining of what was going on behind the scenes.
    Imelda Staunton my not have the physical resemblance to Elizabeth, but she’s got the acting chops to portray the repression of strong emotions and the bewilderment that others cannot do the same. My only quibble is what’s up with that wig? Elizabeth’s hair was always perfect in that signature coif while Imelda’s is too short or too tight or an amateur imitation of the real thing.
    And I was intrigued by the story of Sydney, the valet to the Duke of Windsor who was hired by Al Fayed to make him into an English gentleman, as part of Dodi’s dad’s campaign to get into the Royals’ circle. Even if you watch nothing else, I’ll bet the Mou Mou episode is a story that’s new to you.

  • I’m not thrilled with the casting in season five, but I am watching it anyway. Perhaps I just need some streaming that’s neither silly nor noir. And surely I am not the only one who lived through some of the times and events in the earlier episodes, too?

  • I feel the same. I do not like their portrayal of our Diana at all.

  • It’s a car crash I can’t look away from. And my blind irrational admiration for QE2 dictates that I soldier on to the end.

  • I agree with you Ann, I read that Netflix it’s making so much money that they needed to make season 4 and season 5 more scandalous. I think I will stop, there are more wonderful shows to watch.

  • I’m British, and, in an understated way, a royalist. I’ve never watched the Crown, as the whole concept makes me uncomfortable. I just think how horrific it would feel if it were my family being flayed in public in that way. For me the programme has everything in common gutter journalism, which plagues this country, and the worst thing is that viewers clearly come to believe its sensationalist fiction.

    • Fully agree with you Debby. How’s about Netflix making a similar programme about the Kennedys or even Saint Donald?

  • I started watching today.
    Very good and by the way, the Al Fayed story was very touching, I thought.

  • Watching it from Sydney Australia. I knit Trauma Teddies for Red Cross and binged three eppisodes last night. Got a heap of knitting done. I don’t think there is a series 7. Love the costumes and the behind the scenes politics. Watchin The Crown is better than seeing American Politics on our TV every night though.

  • Very funny. I felt the same way when season 4 had things – like Thatcher – that I remembered. I also considered starting from season 1 but realized unlike say, Dexter, it’s not interesting enough to rewatch. Yes, I rewatched Dexter last year bec the reboot had too many callbacks I couldn’t fully remember. It stands the test if time and still ranks as having the best opening credits ever – all the themes of the show are encapsulated in it.

  • Me too. Don’t like the drama with the marriage breakdown. Don’t like the actors. I thoroughly enjoyed all the history of previous episodes. I’m over it and agree…restart season 1

  • Decided to try Season 5 this weekend and while some of the casting choices are better than others (thought John Major and Diana were the closest in look and behavior) it does seem odd to watch this so soon after the Queen’s funeral. Will probably watch this season as it’s good knitting backdrop, but Olivia Colman’s portrayal of the Queen was the most complex, both in physical likeness and personality. I think any actor following that performance would have a tough time making it their own.
    This season is also making me think more about Spencer, the recent Diana biopic starring Kristen Stewart. I think that movie does a better job of showing the surreal nature of the RF than this show.

  • I’m in agreement with you. I watched the first six minutes. Too soon, too painful and it’s simply too sensationalized, with a seeming agenda to make them all look absolutely ruthless and ridiculous. Princess Diana’s former chef (also worked for HM Queen Elizabeth) has explained so much of those times when I’ve had the occasion to meet him (he’s a delight!). He says this season got two things right: Princess Diana couldn’t make omelets, and he used to leave her post it notes. Think I’ll watch my backlog of DVR’d specials of HM The Queen’s life. Happier knitting by far!

  • I’m with you, Queen Elizabeth just past, so I feel it’s a bit like talking ill of the deceased. And history has gone over and over the breakup of that marriage so many times, I don’t want to do it again with my limited time. I’d rather watch something else to relax. I don’t think Imelda Staunton is a good choice for the Queen, given the other actresses they have used in previous seasons.

  • It’s not my favorite season, mostly because I still love Claire Foy as the queen. And am I the only one who only sees the mean headmistress of Hogwarts every time the Queen is in a scene?

  • Listen to The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet, who also narrates wonderfully. You’ll spend time with the Queen and you’ll be smiling.

  • None of the characters come out looking good. Then I thought what if someone made a film of my life…every bad decision ever made for everyone to see, just shoot me.

  • I am watching (and watched other seasons) with the view that it is a soap opera. It is based on actual happenings/behaviors but with twists for “entertainment.” I do like seeing the factual events which occurred during the time frame and researching things I missed at the time or re-searching things I have forgotten. I think it highlights the superfluousness of the monarchy – fun to watch but has no place in reality. (I am in the US not UK.)

    • Totally agree – so many people think that this is historically accurate, instead of historical fiction. And I thought much of the casting was poor. (For example, how in just 11 years at the start of Season 5 did the Queen go from Olivia to Imelda? Way too old).

      As for the superfluousness of the monarchy – isn’t that really for Brits and other Commonwealth countries to decide? Regardless of what you think of this royal family, constitutional monarchies are some of the most stable democracies in the world – the alternative is a republic, and so sorry, the example being served in the US is hardly appetizing. In any case, that’s for us (as Canadians, Australians, Brits, and other Commonwealth residents to decide), not for Americans who don’t really understand the symbolic and practical importance of the Crown in our politics to opine about.

  • This season is not anywhere as interesting as the previous seasons. It does not seem accurate as well. Poor choices for the Queen and Charles.

  • There are so many things I start and don’t finish–“Peaky Blinders” (so violent!), “Grantchester” (hubs lost interest), not to mention a few knitting projects. I will finish this season of The Crown, just so I can say I did, but it IS different. The passage of the queen informs this a bit, but also the fact that this was not the best time for any of the royals. My English brother-in-law says the show has some (a lot of) historical inaccuracies, but I’ll accept the show as historical fiction. I think this is supposed to be the last season anyway. Loved the first 3 seasons, though.

  • Difficult to have the evil Dolores Umbridge portray a Queen who has been on the throne all of my life

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