‘The Crown’ releases season five with a whole new cast

Netflix releases season 5 of The Crown continues to show the royal familys life.


Netflix releases season 5 of The Crown continues to show the royal family’s life.

Evelyn Wang, Staff Reporterthe c

Peter Morgan’s critically acclaimed television series “The Crown” in November for a fifth season following previous backlash. The Netflix series was criticized for taking creative liberties while fictionalizing historical events during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Critic and viewer concerns ring even louder with the release of the latest season, which depicts the lives of royals during the highly publicized mid-1990s. Netflix had been met with calls to add a disclaimer to the show in order to emphasize that it was a work of fiction, but no episodes in the new season included such a disclaimer. 

However much it dramatizes and sensationalizes the lives of the royal family, “The Crown” still delivers a compelling narrative. The fifth season focuses on events from 1991 to 1997, most notably the deterioration of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage. It also depicts Queen Elizabeth as an aging monarch and the growing sentiment that the monarchy itself has become obsolete. Although this seems like a lot for the show to juggle, it links many of the events together in a cohesive way, showing how, no matter what they do, everyone in and around the royal family is connected.

“The Crown,” known for its wholesale recastings every two seasons, featured a completely new cast for Season 5. While the cast would obviously look and act different than previous seasons to signify the changes in demeanor and appearance their real-life counterparts experienced at that time, the transition between actors isn’t as seamless as in the last recast. 

Imelda Staunton, starring as Queen Elizabeth II, acts as a matriarch of the Windsor family who is aware of her age and possesses a kindly exterior, as well as a more steely personality when dealing with the scandals rocking her family. This portrayal doesn’t match up to that of Olivia Colman, who portrayed Queen Elizabeth in seasons three and four, nor did it always evoke the real-life Elizabeth during the 1990s that the audience may remember from TV appearances. Similarly, it’s hard to see comparisons between Jonathan Pryce’s portrayal of Prince Philip in Season 5 with that of Tobias Menzies and Matt Smith in the previous seasons of the show. 

The Queen and Prince Philip, despite having been at the forefront of the previous seasons, also take a step back in the storylines of this season as well. Instead, the show prioritizes Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s relationships, both with each other and other people. The engrossing drama of this storyline is greatly enhanced by the performances of Dominic West as Prince Charles and Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana, as well as the inclusion of many other crucial people at the time such as Camilla Parker Bowles and BBC journalist Martin Bashir, who conducted a controversial interview with Diana.

Although West, again, does not act like a natural progression of Josh O’Connor’s Prince Charles, he still depicts a convincing Prince Charles who wanted to enforce major reforms to modernize the monarchy and also boost his own public image. Elizabeth Debicki portrays a complex Princess Diana, showing the kindness and sensitivity of the “People’s Princess,” but also the maturity and determination of a woman who wants to be able to live her life on her own terms.

Although the recent season somewhat lacks the subtlety and characterization of previous seasons, it still delivers through some gripping performances and substantive symbolism. “The Crown” continues what it excels at, which is portraying the lives of the royal family in dramatic detail.