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  • Writer's pictureHannah Pearson

Schrödinger’s Crown

Is it Good? Is it Bad?


Spoiler For: History?

Netflix’s powerhouse The Crown has been invading people’s television and water cooler talk since 2016. It has plundered award shows from the Golden Globes to the Emmy’s, snagging most of its big wins in the acting departments. That’s because it hosts huge titans in the industry such as Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, and Helena Bonham Carter. The show, for anyone unaware, is a dramatization of the life of Queen Elizabeth II and historical events of the twentieth century in The United Kingdom and Commonwealth.

When the show came out I gave it a hard pass. I rarely do period pieces, yeah that’s right Downton Abbey got a hard pass too, but also the subject sparked little curiosity in me. However, when the accolades started rolling in after each season and the chatter about Claire Foy’s performance filled the magazines, I became a teensy-weensy bit more intrigued. I truly believe good storytellers can make a tale of paint drying interesting.

But I still could not bring myself to push play. Rich people? Famous people? Motherfuckin royal people? How could I ever feel sorry for them?! How could I have an emotional catharsis for a literal Queen? I need to bleed for my TV shows and there’s too much Irish blood in me to let a drop land for the colonizers of the world.

But then something happened…. a crooked smile and feathery voice popped up on a season 4 promo and my hard pass was getting softer by the minute.

I’m of course talking about Emma Corrin’s portrayal of Princess Diana. Like millions in this world, I have been mesmerized by Diana’s life. Her death happened when I was seven. Her face on magazines and newsreels about the car crash are cemented as some of my earliest memories. I grew up being told she was special, in almost a saint-like fashion. As I got older I did my own Diana deep dive and understood quite quickly why the world loved her so immensely. She was the real girl stuck in a dollhouse with lifeless toys. She was human. I could cry and laugh and bleed for her.

Sure, I could have just hopped on board at the season 4 station but I wanted to take the journey from the beginning, knowing the journey would end with her. I wanted to learn about the other characters and events, only so I could better understand their relationship with her.

So I binged three seasons in a month. But before I started, I realized that The Crown, though not on my list of shows to watch next, had been put somewhere else for many years. It was a box. A box that I could not see the contents of but I knew The Crown sat in there, and it was either a boring garbage show about boring garbage people, or it was a gripping saga about the emotional nuances of one complex but consequential family.

Until now The Crown, as it was in the box, could exist as both, simultaneously. It was Schrödinger’s Crown and I was about to open the box and find out if it was alive or dead….

Well, the ride ended last week when I finished the last episode of season 4. I’ve concluded my quantum-television-conundrum but before I give you my verdict, allow me to list off some observations about this strange family and the strange country that has convinced us that we should all care about it.

-Claire Foy is better at making me care about the Queen than Olivia Colman. OC is great, don’t get me wrong, and dear God I hope this isn’t some subconscious thing about valuing youth and beauty over age and wisdom, but Foy’s Queen didn’t seem quite robotic. She got me to admire the Queen's dedication to the task thrown at her, and pity the troubles in her early days of marriage.

-Let these people marry who the fuck they want to marry! I don’t support any institution that puts ridiculous rules lacking any benefit on people, arbitrarily (I’m looking at you, religion) so the idea that the royal family can’t marry the people they love because of stupid rules that they themselves made up is so beyond stupid. If these rules hadn’t existed then perhaps the gene situation in that family would not have turn into the clusterfuck that it is today (I’m looking at you, Prince Andrew.)

-Margaret Thatcher is as awful of a human being as I thought she was. Gillian Anderson is as amazing of an actor as I thought she was.

-I don’t care about Prince Phillips quarter-life-crisis, mid-life-crisis, or whatever-stage-he-is-at-now-life-crisis. Oh no, he’s bored? Oh no, the astronauts weren’t the superheroes he wanted them to be? Oh no, he has to spend the rest of his life in his wife’s shadow? IDGAF

-I appreciate being pulled out of the Camilla hate club. Charles is a dick, that is for sure. But Camilla isn’t to be blamed for his marriage falling apart with Diana. Take out Camilla, and it was still doomed from the start.

-Emma Corrin is darling and does Diana justice. That family, and this world, however, did not do Diana justice.

And finally, the observation that I found most fascinating and aggravating, is that this family is, in fact, The Crown. Alone, each family member is a human being, only wanting the same things in life we all want, and experiencing happiness and sadness as we all do, but together they are a Voltron of personal satisfaction destruction. One minute they endure the family’s toxic control on an individual basis and the next minute they are actively participating in its demolition of another’s joy. It’s a machine with many parts that make up one beast.

But is the show good? Or is it boring?

The answer is simply: yes

The show is indeed amazing storytelling but the subject is still somehow worthless. When it comes to the actual British monarch and the true stories of real people, I see an archaic establishment that serves almost zero purpose in modern society. I see more people’s lives ruined by cult-like rules #weloveyoumeghan and too much money, power, and prestige going to a group of people who do not deserve it.

I opened the box and I saw a monster biting at his own tail. I watched with horror, delight, curiosity, and doubt, at creature both alive and dead.

What Do You Think? Is The Crown GOOD or BAD or BOTH?

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