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Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher arrive to tarnish ‘The Crown’ season 4

Eworm from The crown First premiered in 2016, its first season spanning Elizabeth II’s marriage to Philip in 1947 and coronation at age 27, thanks to Winston Churchill’s resignation in 1955, there was an unmistakable urgency among his fans of Netflix to hurry up already.

It’s not that fans haven’t relished the show’s lavish production or delighted in its juicy glimpse beyond the palace walls. But they also had the kettle heated on the stovetop, ready to sip tea as the show’s timeline moved into the modern-era tabloid drama that many are, in large part, more familiar with. Basically as loved and praised as The crown was, the whispers were basically a rally song: Show us Princess Diana.

Lady Di arrives in the fourth season of the series, available to stream from November 15 on Netflix. She’s been portrayed by newcomer Emma Corrin since her innocent teenage years and infatuated over the years with her marriage turmoil that made global headlines. But the same goes for Margaret Thatcher, in a formidable performance by Gillian Anderson that is sure to dominate the pricing conversation next year.

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As in previous seasons of The crown, this set of episodes is framed around the relationship of Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) with the sitting Prime Minister. But the show seems keenly aware that your concern is probably more the drama of Princess Diana, just like everyone else at the time.

The stories of Elizabeth and Diana are parallel, albeit distinct, narrative threads that are duly and richly explored in all 10 episodes. In practice, they compound what has always been a nagging issue with the show’s hopscotch throughout history, a distracting inconsistency.

This is the first time that’s more than a small gripe with the otherwise meticulously crafted series, which consistently ranks as the most lavish production on television. You’ll still be basking in production design, costumes and breathtaking journeys across Britain and the world, footage of the countryside, beaches and city streets cinematic enough to rival the orderly opulence of the scenes taking place at Buckingham Palace.

The performances are always perfectly adapted to satisfy our voyeuristic eye and make us believe that we are watching a documentary; historical elements continue to be illuminating, especially for Anglophile neophytes, but soap opera foam should never enter your eyes so much that it obscures clear vision – it is a dramatized history.

The Diana and Charles arc is undeniably tantalizing, especially for a younger audience raised on fairy tales and the legend of Lady Di who may not have known how ugly the relationship was. (“Actually worse than the newspaper report” is as described by one character on the show.) The back photo of the future princess in her wedding dress, teased in the trailer, is worth she alone the entrance fee.

Watching Anderson’s Thatcher and Colman’s Elizabeth go head-to-head, every strategy of calculation versus decorum and alternating roles of predator and prey, is a thrill. So what is wrong?

There’s a late-season speech, as Thatcher’s machinations and the scorching Diana-Charles-Camilla triangle drama dominate, which warns us not to forget who everyone should always focus on and energy. emotional: the queen. It’s unclear how bad that was meant to be, after a season that tried otherwise.

For four seasons, we revisited the Royals’ tunnel vision goal of not diluting their lineage, with the happiness of their own members becoming frequent collateral damage. While Elizabeth and Philip disappear as secondary characters for much of this fourth outing, the same could be said for the royal narrative as well.

It’s not a catastrophic faux pas, like the time Elizabeth breaks sovereign protocol and expresses judgment on Thatcher (a great episode). But it sounds like when Diana thought filming herself singing a The Phantom of the Opera a ballad as a gift to Charles would please him, at this point, toxic cruel husband (also a conspiracy!): an understandable and well-meaning gesture that doesn’t come off as expected.

When it comes to Diana’s plot, one of the clearest moves on the show is coming home to how young she was when she stepped into the fray. We meet her as a precocious teenager. She’s shy and nervous – and dressed youthfully in overalls – when she shares an lingering look with Charles (Josh O’Connor) on their second meeting, a smile heralding the next, what, 40 years of international speech.

He was 29 when they first met and she was 16 – and just 19 when they got engaged, 20 when they got married. As her media star rises and gains the confidence to assert her own desires during the decade the season covers, it’s understandable that she is regularly exasperated by her stifling royal plight in life. Her bond so young is almost lewd in nature, something that a generation that would only know her through interviews and appearances in the last years of her life may not have fully understood.

It’s rare for the season to deviate from Diana’s storyline and dutifully portray how she concerns the whole family.

There is an excellent bottle episode which dramatizes a bizarre moment in royal history, when a man, fed up with being unemployed under Thatcher’s leadership, bursts into Buckingham Palace, finds Queen Elizabeth asleep in his bedroom, then peacefully engages her in a state conversation. of the country before being arrested.

You’ll notice little mention of Princess Margaret from Helena Bonham-Carter or The Duke of Edinburgh from Tobias Menzies, both of which are extremely underutilized. Bonham-Carter, at least, gets an end-of-season showcase episode, and it is perhaps the most touching of the lot, centered on the royal cousins ​​who were secretly hidden in an asylum and falsely declared dead so not to publicly embarrass the family.

She shares a lingering gaze with Charles on their second meeting, a smile heralding the next, what, 40 years of international discourse.

It’s also one of the most damning indictments in the family, which, together with how their treatment of Diana is characterized, injects this season the most palpable judgment of the Royal Family to date. This background makes the portrayal of Thatcher and her interactions with Elizabeth all the more interesting and perhaps even controversial.

In the same way that people marveled at Meryl Streep’s transformation into Prime Minister for his Oscar iron Lady Let’s take, Anderson’s demise from the role is so comprehensive it’s almost a distraction – which is mostly praise. It’s a mannered and laborious, almost theatrical mimicry in the way that Anderson’s low, grated voice and everything from his bent back to his bowed neck work to physically channel Thatcher.

If this season is about how two women – Diana and Thatcher – come to define the crown at this time, then due time is given to Thatcher’s life outside of Buckingham Palace. This is yet another “humanization” of the polarizing British figure. (Remember, “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” surged onto the UK charts after her death.) There isn’t a lot of space devoted to what made her so vilified, which results in a likeable portrayal of a determined woman whose self-assurance broke gender barriers.

Detractors will notice how this echoes what has become an inevitable truth of a royalty-centric show: “humanization” will inevitably turn history into hagiography. It’s the most damning season of the show so far in the way it portrays family, but when it comes to Elizabeth and, now, with her scenes with Thatcher, there’s a little bit of ” yaas, #girlbosses, work! ” cheerleading in progress which is … complicated, to say the least.

But that’s the modern goal audiences instinctively put on a show like this. It will be applied looking at the icy and abusive way the family treats Diana, against the backdrop of Harry and Meghan Markle’s removal from the crown. It should also be borne in mind that the first season of the series premiered four days before Donald Trump was elected in 2016 and this new fourth season, chronicling Thatcher’s tumultuous tenure and a misreading of power, does his debut a week after his election. Office.

Perhaps, for all our interest in sensationalism, this is what the show has done so well. In a series so grand to be worthy of the monarchy, he has distilled history and drama to a point of relatability. The royal family, they are like us! And they’re about as modern as it gets.

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