The Crown, Season 5
After a two-year wait, the latest season of the smash hit about Britain’s royal family arrives on a tsunami of bitter criticism from friends like Judi Dench and those the show depicts — former Prime Minister John Major says the scenes of him comforting Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton, Harry Potter’s Dolores Umbridge) are “a barrel-load of malicious nonsense. They are fiction, pure and simple.”
But it’s highly plausible fiction, not pure and never simple, that makes us feel like we’re in the royals’ tormented heads and hearts and fancy castles in their darkest days, the 1990s.
Staunton majestically conveys the Queen’s misery as scandals incinerate her dignity: topless Fergie getting her toe sucked by a boyfriend, the end of Prince Andrew’s marriage, Princess Anne’s divorce, and the public battle of Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Diana (Elizabeth Debicki), as even-tempered Major plays diplomat between the warring camps.