As noted in today’s site open, the British royal family seems pretty stressed by how they’re portrayed in season four of The Crown that just dropped yesterday and features Princess Diana. Diana, was, as we all know, the British royal family’s biggest star. And that was a headache for them. She would go on to put them on blast in the most public way – and her death resulted in open criticism of the Queen, a lot of it unfair; but still, people were, and still are, devastated by Diana’s tragic, premature passing. They took it out on the biggest target, a person who for a long time was considered untouchable. So the fact that the storytelling this season, as partly fictional as it may be, leans into the Queen and the royals’ insensitivity towards Diana, and how often they failed her, well, you can imagine, this is opening a wound.
And they’re worried. They’re worried about public perception. They’re worried about backlash. Which is why so many of the royal family’s defenders are denouncing the show, trying to correct what they consider to be fabrications, declaring Netflix the enemy of the monarchy, and of course calling out Prince Harry for the deal that he and Meghan Markle have made with the world’s most successful streaming service. In the Daily Mail, reporter Emily Andrews, a member of what Harry and Meghan supposedly and hilariously call “The Cartel”, asks the question:
How could Sir David Attenborough make a deal with Netflix? While we’re at it, why don’t we blame Prince William and Kate for posing their children with Sir David Attenborough while promoting his Netflix documentary?!?
You know what the problem is with this argument? On top of how gross it is to try and redirect the sh-t onto Harry now that the British royal family’s asshole ways are being watched by tens of millions of people around the world? It’s an amateur hour understanding of television and streaming and, basically, how sh-t works.
They keep trying to vilify Netflix, like these Americans are in their lair over in Hollywood plotting to take down the British monarchy. One of the points that has been raised is that The Crown is Netflix’s most expensive series and makes a lot of money for Netflix. While it’s true that Netflix spends a lot of money on The Crown, its value to Netflix is not necessarily financial, it’s prestige. It wins Netflix a LOT of awards. And that attracts more talent to Netflix. But as for whether Netflix gains subscribers because of The Crown, I mean…
They’re not exactly forthcoming with their ratings and their numbers, so nobody really knows. But Netflix has a lot more in its library than just The Crown. The hottest show of 2020 is actually not The Crown. One of the most buzzed-about series on Netflix in 2020 features royalty of a different flavour, haha. It’s Tiger King. And before that it was Cheer! And then there’s Emily in Paris, which is generating a LOT of hate-watch eyeballs. Not to mention Netflix’s extension Asian library which is tons of money from non-English speaking parts of the world. To say that The Crown makes or breaks Netflix is ignorant of the business, and not high on accuracy – the exact same thing that The Crown is being accused of. It might even be that The Crown, on paper, is a money loss for Netflix, considering the expense.
The other thing these critics don’t understand about Netflix is that they’re probably the outlet that interferes the least with the narrative. Creatives have been telling us this for years: Netflix does not give a lot of notes. That’s why showrunners want to go there, because they’re tired of the bullsh-t from ABC, NBC, and CBS and the executives up in the suites sending notes to the writers like they know what the f-ck they’re talking about. Netflix famously doesn’t interfere nearly on the level of the broadcasters. Which brings us to the biggest omission in the amateur hour criticism against The Crown right now…
This is 100% a British series, not an American series. This is a series by Peter Morgan, one of the most powerful figures of the British creative class. In 2015 he was on Queen Elizabeth’s New Year Honours list and named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, FFS! Just five years ago, while the first season of The Crown was in production, he was recognised for his contribution to British arts and culture!
The Crown is ALL HIM.
It’s not Netflix. Netflix puts in the money so he can work. BUT HE DOES THE WORK. But they can’t really dump on Peter Morgan or Left Bank Pictures which produces The Crown. You know why? The Crown employs hundreds of people in the British film and television industry. The tabloids keep referring to The Crown as a crown jewel for Netflix but, really, Netflix has many, many jewels, it has a new jewel every f-cking week. The Crown, however, is the crown jewel of the British film and TV business. It’s a huge boost to the British film and TV economy. Without Netflix’s money then, think of how many British creatives would not have been working over these last few years. And by the way, Prince William is the President of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Which is probably why the royals can’t really openly declare war on Peter Morgan and Left Bank. Which is why so much of the moaning about The Crown isn’t directed at the actual BRITISH CITIZENS telling the story and profiting from the story but on the British royal family’s favourite scapegoats, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who happen to live in America now.
To go back to money though and who gets to profit – the British royal family brings in so much tourism money from around the world (pre-COVID at least) and, well, don’t you think The Crown has in some way contributed to that?
Last year, The New York Times profiled Peter Morgan, calling him “the man [who] made the monarchy relevant again”. That’s the tricky position the British royals find themselves in – one they’re desperately aware of but will never admit: they have benefited from this series, even when the series doesn’t show them in a flattering light. It’s precisely because they cannot control the story in the series that’s the main issue, and not that it exists in the first place.