TV Review—The Crown

Carey Appling comments
| Entertainment

Netflix has rated this series TV-MA. Click here for the parents' guide from IMDb.

When Netflix decided to release it's latest British The Crown online on November 4th, which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and her life, It took me about a week before I decided I could no longer resist yet another dramatization of British royalty. I was such an admirer of Downton Abbey, I learned much as an American having experienced a culture that is very different from my own. Therefore, once Downton Abbey was finished I have been desperate ever since to fill my life with yet another story as robust and thorough as the aristocratic Crawley family. In fact, while I decided to watch The Crown my wife abandoned any hope that the latest show would be as good as the old, so she watched Downton all over again while I ventured into uncharted territory.

The Crown almost immediately captivated me. Being a lover of Doctor Who, who wouldn't be excited about Matt Smith (The 11th Doctor) playing Prince Philip? Yeah, it’s odd that the tall guy (John Lithgow) from 3rd Rock From The Sun, a sitcom from the 90’s, is playing Winston Churchill but I’m sure he will make do. Yet, as the series carried on I found myself simply astonished by Lithgow’s performance, even so that I would watch his movements, his mannerisms, his posture (which was haggardly and gnarled) with baited breath. Lithgow’s performance as Churchill, alone, is enough to warrant someone to watch this series in it’s entirety. It’s Emmy worthy and award winning at the least. The character progression of almost all the cast is weighty and profound as the late King George VI passes away and the Crown of England and “Divine” authority is passed on to the eldest daughter, Elizabeth Mary. So momentous is this power and authority that it drastically changes the life of her family and by the end of the first season we see just how daunting authority is, especially the authority of the Queen.


John Lithgow as Winston Churchill


As a Christian, what impacted me the greatest was Queen Elizabeth’s personal progression and development as a person who is constantly advised not to allow her personal feelings to influence the way she governs. Churchill is always at her side, reminding her, that she cannot allow the people to see frailty, weakness and the crushing weight of the responsibility she has undertaken. Her humanity, basically. Instead, she must only allow the people to see the “Divine” and holy nature that her crown represents. This is where the Anglican Doctrines are largely, and without hesitation, put on full display. Queen Elizabeth is the Head of the Church and this has profound theological implications for the Church, State and People of England. Her decisions in this series carry a weight and magnitude that is unparalleled to anything I have seen, in recent memory, as far as story telling goes.  Much of this is given to a very young mother who never wanted this authority and was content to raise a family with her husband and enjoy a relatively quiet life. By the end of the season you are wondering what could have been if Elizabeth never became Queen.

What is also compelling is the Queen’s ability to do just as Churchill advises, remain stoic and impenetrable, even if it means destroying her relationship with those she loves. In The Crown, the Queen must, no matter the cost, protect the position of “Divine” authority and nothing can hinder that. Not even her own passions and desires, or even what she wants so deeply for those around her. She must completely divorce herself from her authority and the two spheres cannot ever fuse. This is where Claire Voy, who plays The Queen, stands toe to toe with Lithgow’s Performance. Her acting, coupled with the cinematography and score of the film, at times, make the weight of her upcoming decision too much to bear. At times, I covered my face with the crushing realities the repercussions of her decisions had. Yet I peered up from my face and you could see her frailty and despair, even if it was only in her eyes as she stood resolute in her decision, content to show no weakness, no fragility, only the “Divine”, only the immovable.

The Crown does such an amazing job, both cast and crew, of telling such an impactful story and showing its audience the realities of authority and how people fall short. They either fail themselves or those whom they serve. At times, The Queen seems to fail everyone except the reputation and image of “The Crown”.

With a Christian Worldview I merely stood absolutely confounded at the end of the series as I pondered Christ’s Kingly authority on earth. How our Lord Jesus does not divorce Himself and His passions from His Divine authority. How He does not lose balance as it pertains to governance and how majestic are the weight of His decrees. How He never fails those whom He loves as it pertains to doing what is in their best interest, for His own glory. Most importantly how He perfectly executes whatever He sees fit. Christ has no weakness to hide, no frailty (apart from the Cross) to conceal, no Holiness to mimic and no differing spheres as it pertains to what He desires and what He decrees. His dominion is perfect.

As I finished the series, all I thought about was my King. How God used such a series as The Crown to give me an amazing appreciation of just how powerful His authority is in my life and everyone else’s. I wondered how I can best represent Him on earth, and seek to point those around me to Him, who is worthy of praise and all glory. For God even uses a series such as The Crown to bring about good in my life that I would grow in my love for His majesty and respect of His everlasting holiness, even as I see those on this earth fail even in the limited authority that they have themselves.




Carey Appling

Carey is 32, married for 12 years to his beautiful wife Sara and has 3 children. He is also an Abolitionist out of Houston, Tx.