Review: Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ makes history more accessible

Shae Slaughter

For roughly a year and a half, Netflix has been releasing episodes of an original show called “The Crown,” which documents the life of England’s current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The show is an interesting break away from a lot of the work currently on air or online because it takes a look back at the past. “The Crown” is certainly not a documentary, but I believe that Netflix’s choice to make this show is a great step toward combining education and entertainment.

Growing up, I was never a history buff, but the older I got, the more I realized how valuable it can be to learn from the past. I started watching “The Crown” because I was looking for the glitz and glamour of royalty, but what I found was a whole new world of discovery. The first season alone greatly increased my overall knowledge of the United Kingdom, a country with which the U.S. has a lot of shared interests.

Not everything about the show is completely factual, but it does a great job of showing the big things: how Queen Elizabeth rose to power, the intricacies of her marriage and England’s relationships with its colonies. Ultimately, Netflix’s reimagined history is informative and engaging.

However, a show is often only as good as the people who are cast to act in it, and once again, Netflix knocked it out of the park. I may not be a connoisseur of film, but I believe that Claire Foy makes a wonderful Queen Elizabeth. She is very likable and does a wonderful job of showing the juxtaposition of her newly found fame with her naturally introverted manner. 

The same holds true for the show’s other main characters. Matt Smith’s complex and intriguing Prince Philip gives a lot of dimension to the show. His character is abrasive yet charming, leaving the viewer perplexed as to his motives. Princess Margaret, played by Vanessa Kirby, gives similar feelings. She is destructive while also being entertaining. In some ways, I find her to be her very own version of a protagonist.

These actors and actresses will not hold their roles through the entirety of the show because each season covers a wide period of time and they plan to age the actors accordingly. Still, the first two seasons’ cast certainly sets “The Crown” off on a good foot. I’m particularly interested to see how the creator, Peter Morgan, continues to bring his vision to life as time continues to pass and new actors are introduced.

Since the academic semester is winding down, I would highly suggest using your Netflix account (because I know you have one) to take in a few episodes of “The Crown.” It’s an easy way to help keep your brain sharp during summer break. Both the first and second seasons are out now, and it has been renewed for two more, so it is the perfect time to get caught up. It may not be a history book, but it is still a great way to learn at least a little more about the world.