Netflix’s niche is that everything is a niche, and rather than focus on any particular genre, the Silicon Valley streaming service aims to hit them all. However, the vast majority of Netflix’s growing roster of movies and series have one definitive element in-common: nostalgia. And (apparently) their 100 million worldwide subscribers loves them some nostalgia.
Whether it’s the 1980s arcades of Stranger Things, the Old West vistas of Godless, or the general throwback vibe of The Defenders, Netflix recognizes the powerful pull of recreating the music, attitudes, language, and styles of our youths (your individual date of birth notwithstanding). These shows immerse viewers in the events of their particular day, and perhaps no Netflix series better exemplifies this focus on history then Peter Morgan’s The Crown — a show that I contend is the best Netflix series so far!
The Crown stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith as the young, post-WWII royal couple, Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, as they struggle to balance the British monarchy amidst major cultural changes and global strife in the 1950s. If that sounds like some kind of tedious costume drama, I assure you that The Crown is anything but stuffy, boring, or dull.
Set against the backdrop of numerous real-world events, including The Great Smog of 1952, The Suez Canal crisis of 1956, Russia’s Sputnik in 1957 — to name just a few. The Crown not only addresses day-to-day life in the palace, but it also turns the camera around to examine Britain’s working-class and parliamentary government, too. The show is interested in telling the story of England’s cultural relationship with the royal family, and the execution is incredibly potent, intriguing stuff.
What makes this show so compelling is its ever-changing viewpoint. One episode might focus on the Queen, another on the Prince, the next on the Prime Minister, while others examine individual journalists, members of high-society, and the working-class too. It’s almost an anthology series with a shared timeline. Through this revolving POV the viewer gets a complete picture of life in England across every socio-economic class during the period.
This is also clearly a “prestige” series, which the Telegraph estimates that is Netflix’s most-expensive yet, at over $100 million per season. The show depicts many of its touchstone events in amazing detail, such as an elaborate African safari conducted by Elizabeth and Phillip prior to their coronation or an around-the-world trip by sea to visit Britains dwindling colonial holdings. The look of each episode is extravagant, recreating the interior of Windsor Palance and many, many other key locations — if you’re intro draperies, The Crown has you well-covered.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, even though The Crown might appear aimed at a female audience, I would argue that there’s so much diverse material in this series that anyone and everyone can find something to enjoy. Guys, if you want to show your significant other that you’re about more than superheroes, cops, and explosions you could do worse than The Crown, trust me!
The Crown dropped its second season on December 8, 2018, and like any Netflix series it can be watched in binge fashion — however, it’s such a rich and complex show that I found it better enjoyed in increments of only one or two episodes at a time. The Crown is apparently rather popular on the streaming service — Netflix doesn’t share its viewer data — but rumor has it that Seasons 3 and 4 are going to happen, which means the 1960s (The Beatles, Pirate Radio, and the impact of JFK’s assassination). My wife and I can’t wait!