If The Crown Fits, Watch It!


Netflix’s much-anticipated period drama The Crown has earned plenty of comparisons to Downton Abbey since its premiere on Nov. 4. Both shows tackle the changing tide in Great Britain’s caste system during the early and mid-20th century, but Downton Abbey is ultimately about a fictional aristocratic family, while The Crown follows the real-life accession of Queen Elizabeth II. Much of Elizabeth’s personal life is unknown to the public, since, as the series explores, she always kept her emotions and desires in check in the face of duty. But is The Crown based on true events?

In fact, most of the episodes were built around conflicts that played out in real life. The show’s first season of a purportedly planned six episodes, perpetually places the young queen (Claire Foy, nailing a thick accent and making the best of thin motivation) in situations that bear the contours of rebellion, after which she eventually backs down in order to behave in the best interest of the monarchy’s continued existence. Most grievously, she reverses herself on the question of whether her sister, the vibrant Margaret (Vanessa Kirby, the show’s MVP), may marry a divorced man; the decision ruins the princess’s chance at love. (The real-life Margaret went on to marry the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, later Earl of Snowdon. The unhappy union ended in divorce.)


The Crown is ideal viewing for when you want to settle down with a cup of tea and watch people agonize over problems that feel very distant from your own. But if you’re looking for insight into the real power and impact of Elizabeth’s reign, this may not be the right place to start. The show is beautifully shot and includes an admirable portrayal of Winston Churchill by actor John Lithgow. But unlike Downton Abbey, where the lives of the rich and privileged were contrasted with the people who served them, The Crown is a languid depiction where working-class people only appear in brief cameos to be charmingly simple and inspirational. The darker side of the Empire is politely avoided. That’s hardly unusual for a British period drama of this type, but it’s a little disappointing for Netflix’s latest high-profile foray into prestige TV.

For more on the real life and loves of Queen Elizabeth II, check out The Royal Romance Part 1 and Part 2, which first appeared in True Romance magazine in 1953.


LOVE May Be The Next Big Netflix Show


Episode to episode, there’s plenty to like about Love, Netflix’s new Judd Apatow–produced, Gillian Jacobs–led quasi-rom-com. The romantic comedy (premiering today on the streaming service, and not to be confused with the 3-D Gaspar Noe movie of the same name) is a savagely honest, frequently hilarious story about two thirty something screw-ups who use each other to fix themselves. If anything, the title often feels like a joke at the expense of its characters, whose deranged courtship reveals the maddening isolation of modern life in Los Angeles.

Mickey, played by the truly luminous Gillian Jacobs, is an alcoholic and all that entails amid the Echo Park singles scene (i.e. she makes a fool of herself at parties and has sex with many men, some of whom she treats badly). During a wholly expositional and overly wrought first episode we meet Mickey, whose job as producer of a radio self-help program works in eye-rolling contrast to her self-destructive personal life, and Gus (star/co-creator Adam Rust), an on-set tutor, passive narcissist and self-defined “nice guy” who can’t understand why his girlfriend has cheated on him.


The rest of the episodes documents their courtship as a series of missteps, miscues and occasional moments of tremendous illumination (the Magic Castle episode is terrific on every level). With many Echo Park locations used as both exterior and interior, Los Angeles hasn’t looked this real since “Transparent” went to the Warehouse in Marina del Rey for drinks.

Unfolding like a five-hour Judd Apatow movie, the series has the time and patience to let us watch Gus and Mickey take two steps forward and one step back as they repeatedly crash into each other. “I think it feels like it moves more at the pace of real life,” Jacobs argues. “The show has enough time to have periods of confusion, misconnections, awkwardness — it just seems like dating is getting more complicated, and relationships don’t actually develop in a clean 90-minute arc in real life.”

Watch the Trailer Here: