While the highly-anticipated fourth season of The Crown can’t show every single event in royal history, they shouldn’t just make it up, Kerry Parnell writes.
If the truth is stranger than fiction, why did The Crown make so much up? It has literally lost the plot.
This series is full of clumsy dialogue, sledgehammer analogies and historical revisionism. Maybe it was the same in early seasons and we were further away from the history to realise, but I don’t think that is entirely the issue.
We fell in love with Claire Foy and Matt Smith’s young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. But writer Peter Morgan has turned them into emotionally-devoid caricatures.
Olivia Colman’s Queen is horrible. And it’s never a good thing if your audience detests the protagonists.
“I think it’s a mistake to assume that people are feeling any sympathy for us at all,” she says in episode six.
I think it’s a mistake to assume we didn’t, Peter.
The arrival of Princess Diana seems to have clouded his vision. Revisiting the sorry story 40 years later makes it even more poignant, but the stalking deer scenes of episode two are like being hammered over the head with a mallet marked “SYMBOLISM”. Thanks, we get it.
Series three was all about poor put-upon Prince Charles coming of age and being denied true love. We rooted for him, we liked him.
But come series four, he’s Iceman, torturing his young bride, who, while Emma Corrin is simply stellar as Diana, is a one-dimensional victim.
The royal family have become ogres, scoffing at Margaret Thatcher at Balmoral, then berating Diana for cocking up her curtsies. But Diana grew up on the Sandringham Estate, her father was an equerry to George VI and the Queen; she knew all the etiquette. She was no Meghan, which we’re clearly meant to think.
The invented conversations are ridiculous, such as the imaginary last letter from Lord Mountbatten and Philip ranting at Charles over stealing his affection.
And Bob Hawke likening the Queen to a “pig in a twin set and pearls”? Oh please …
Then there’s the content they miss out. Fair enough, they can’t show every single event in history, but they shouldn’t change it.
The Falklands War is weirdly relegated to a sub-plot to Michael Fagan’s 1982 Buckingham Palace break-in. The Queen has just admitted her favourite child is Prince Andrew (wah-wah, oops), so you’d think it would be pertinent then, that he served in the Falklands War. And came back a hero. But no, he’s been cancelled remember, so we must delete his history too.
Some 255 British servicemen and 650 Argentinians lost their lives, not that you’d know from watching.
The Queen and Philip were in Portsmouth to greet Andrew when HMS Invincible returned. But that obviously didn’t fit into their narrative — it would have shown both them and Andrew as human. News flash: we understand people are nuanced.
Likewise, Charles wasn’t seeing Camilla from the start of his marriage, but hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of a bad story.
The makers’ defence is it’s a drama, not a documentary, but the problem is many will believe it, particularly generations too young to remember.
If you are making a drama about historical events, my view is you keep the events real and embellish around them. Otherwise, it’s an exercise in fake news. And a character assassination.
I’m calling it: The Crown has jumped the royal shark. Unhappy days.