November 17, 2023
Review: 'The Crown' Season 6 Turns the Clock Back with Drama, Lavish Detail
JC Alvarez READ TIME: 3 MIN.
Since its premiere in 2016, the Netflix Original Series "The Crown" has bewildered audiences with its insider look into the very private life of one of the most famous and famously private people on the planet: The Queen of England. The deeply personable Elizabeth was thrust into the spotlight when she assumed the crown following the death of her father, King George VI, and enjoyed one of the most beloved reigns in the history of the country. The series created by Peter Morgan (developed from his dramatic feature film "The Queen" starring Helen Mirren) began its run as a love story centered on the wedding of young Elizabeth (played then by Claire Foy) to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (portrayed by Matt Smith), and evolved quickly through the seasons covering decades from the coronation on.
With every passing season, the queen and the drama within her family was, some might say, exploited for the sake of a dishy narrative. The royal family themselves have said that much of the moments captured and dramatized throughout the series have been exaggerated for the sake of television drama. Elizabeth has remained a pillar of courage and collected emotion, whether portrayed by Olivia Coleman, or, most presently in Season 6, by Imelda Staunton, who assumed the seat of power (so to speak) in Season 5. Staunton takes on one of the darkest moments in the queen and her country's history as Season 6 commences.
It's uncanny how closely actress Elizabeth Debicki resembles Princess Diana. The season's start puts the spotlight on her last days, and it feels as though the audience is transported back in time. After their tumultuous marriage, Prince Charles (Dominic West) is happy to move on with his life and is now relishing the company of his true love, Camilla Bowles (Olivia Williams). But Charles won't rest until the nation embraces Camilla, which is nearly impossible. Diana is undeterred in providing a proper home life for her two sons, the heirs to the throne, and to being in service – her fame must amount to some sort of good. She will not be "Persona Non Grata."
The expert care to production detail is extraordinary! Season 6 takes it up a notch, as we're all given access to Diana's efforts to bring some joy and normalcy to her and her children's holiday, but it's increasingly more difficult to avoid the glare of the paparazzi. It's during a holiday getaway that fate introduces her to Dodi Fayed (portrayed by Khalid Abdalla), and the two, unaware of what's in store, become fast friends. Their true-life love affair was so carefully protected that it would lead to an obsession, and to one of the most catastrophic events in modern history. "The Crown" Season 6, Part 1 is centered on the tragedy that claimed the English Rose, with the trauma of her death – to the nation and those left behind – explored as only "The Crown" can do.
Staunton and Debicki deliver beautifully, and are joined by one of the most celebrated casts on any series, including Jonathan Pryce and Lesley Manville. Dominic West may not be the winning favorite in his role as Charles, but the actor is wonderful, and up to the challenge of delivering the myriad of emotions that the future King of England would have to embrace on his journey to the crown – but that's an entirely new series that may not be in the offing. When "The Crown" returns for the final episodes with Part 2 in December, it promises to set up the blossoming attraction between Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Even though it is ending, "The Crown" will remain one of the most influential and successful shows, raising the bar in streaming content. Certainly, Peter Morgan has found inspiration in some of the real-life drama that continues to emerge from behind the gates of Buckingham Palace.
"The Crown" enters into its final season, with Part 1 streaming on Netflix on November 16 and Part 2 premiering in December 2023.
Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".