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8 Reasons to Watch 'The Crown' Now

Netflix's zillion-dollar epic series is back, and more binge-watchable than ever

spinner image Claire Foy and Matt Smith on 'The Crown'
Robert Viglasky/Courtesy of Netflix

We will never be royals, but it’s easy to feel like one of the family when watching Netflix’s blockbuster series The Crown, about the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II. Season 2 starts Friday. The first season was dubbed best TV drama (and star Claire Foy best actress) at the Golden Globes, and even Elizabeth’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie finds the show beautifully addictive. The first season, still available for streaming, takes newlywed Elizabeth from 1947 to 1955; the second season goes up to 1963 — when, according to British poet Philip Larkin, "sex was invented." Here’s why you should binge-watch both seasons right away.

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spinner image Windsor Castle
Robert Viglasky/Courtesy of Netflix

1. It Makes Downton Abbey Look Dowdy

With a budget over $100 million (possibly the costliest show ever), a costume designer from Game of Thrones and a production designer from Shakespeare in LoveThe Crown takes you to the sumptuously glamorous inner sanctum of the House of Windsor. The gossip is richer, the writing smarter, the history more fascinating and the characters more absorbing than anything at the Crawley place — a hovel compared to Windsor Castle. If this show doesn’t give you house envy, nothing will.

spinner image Claire Foy and Matt Smith in 'The Crown'
Alex Bailey/Courtesy of Netflix

2. But They Do Get Out of the House

Instead of feeling cooped up indoors with all that gold, the viewer gets to see royals sail to Antarctica, dance in Africa, risk death in rickety airplanes, fistfight school bullies, zoom to disreputable parties in sports cars and struggle with London’s killer fog and prime ministers who kill in sneakier ways.

spinner image John Lithgow as Winston Churchill in 'The Crown'
Alex Bailey/Courtesy of Netflix

3. Elizabeth and Winston Churchill Are Irresistible Together

Instead of winning World War II by eloquently bellowing, The Crown’s Churchill (John Lithgow) is a vulnerable guy on the way out after the war, gently educating the young queen on her impossible new job. Their relationship in the first season (with a few flashbacks in the second) is totally touching, and you won’t believe how much emotional information Foy can pack into a single glance.

spinner image Michael C. Hall, Jodi Balfour, Claire Foy and Matt Smith in 'The Crown'
Alex Bailey/Courtesy of Netflix

4. Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Have Better Catfights Than Joan Collins and Linda Evans

In Season 2, Jackie (Jodi Balfour, with Michael C. Hall as JFK) disses the Queen, making her say, "I have learned more about humiliation in the last few weeks than I hoped I would in a lifetime." But wait until you hear what Jackie confesses in private — and see how their rivalry makes possible Elizabeth’s riskiest move and a great personal triumph that raises eyebrows for her Jackie-esque audacity. 

spinner image Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother on 'The Crown'
Alex Bailey/Courtesy of Netflix

5. You Think Your Mother Is a Problem?

The blunt Queen Mother (Victoria Hamilton) gets to say rude things out loud that Elizabeth would scarcely dare to think. But, it’s got to sting when Elizabeth’s mother sees Jackie Kennedy on TV and says, “She looks so young! I thought she was your age!” “She is,” Elizabeth protests.

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spinner image Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret on 'The Crown'
Stuart Hendry/Courtesy of Netflix

6. Elizabeth’s Sister Margaret Is a Bad Girl Who Likes a Good Time

You’ll fall in love with Elizabeth, but you have to admit she’s a bit of a prig. Not Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby), who poses discreetly naked in the newspapers, defies convention, dresses with eye-popping 1960s style and mercilessly razzes her more tradition-bound relatives.

spinner image Alex Jennings and Lia William in 'The Crown'
Alex Bailey/Courtesy of Netflix

7. Those Nazi Skeletons in the Family Closet Dance Up a Storm

As each episode vividly plunges you into a the national or personal crisis of the day, there are plenty of dramatic flashbacks that fill in the family’s traumatic history — especially the appalling past of Elizabeth’s relatives who were pals of Hitler. Not only must she beware each day’s tabloid headlines, the queen has to deal with secret documents and long-ago revelations.

spinner image Matt Smith in 'The Crown'
Robert Viglasky/Courtesy of Netflix

8. A Fairy-Tale Romance With an Ogre You Learn to Love

Prince Philip (Matt Smith of Dr. Who) may be an adulterous cad, chronically gone on globe-spanning naval adventures with his scurrilous friends. He's a cruel, rotten father to poor jug-eared Charles, but he’s witty, sharp and charming — and somehow you switch from yearning Liz could dump him to rooting for the marriage to prevail against all odds. Spoiler: It does!

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