Review: ‘The Crown’ season 5 is a bingeworthy British bomb


Photo credit: Netflix Promotional Photo

“The Crown” is a Netflix series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the royals’ impact on Britain. Season 5 is set in the 1990s, and it brings more drama and intensity to this worldwide favorite.

By Lucy Williams, Voices Editor

The British royal family rolled into the 90s in Season 5 of “The Crown,” which premiered Nov. 9 on Netflix. The 10 dramatic episodes arrived with much anticipation under the shadow of Queen Elizabeth II’s recent death Sept. 8.

The show’s previous award-winning seasons chronicle the ups and downs of the Queen’s 70-year reign all the way back to her succession of the crown. Season 5, specifically, follows the monarchy through one of the darkest periods of its reign, where a rivalry between the prince and the beloved Princess of Wales is in Britain’s spotlight. Fires, phone call leaks and scandalous interviews give the episodes a fleeting kick that leaves you addicted to the storyline.

The new episodes keep all the same royal charm that entices viewers with the help of their new, impactful musical score. Martin Phipps composed a beautifully British soundtrack, containing everything from harp concertos to somber trumpet solos, which brings elegance to all the right moments. Each anticipated moment is met with tense classical music, perfectly matching the tension between the characters.

Viewers all over the world tuned into this season in anticipation of watching the end of the beloved character Princess Diana and her story. In previous seasons, casting directors Nina Gold and Robert Sterne were acclaimed for finding doppelgangers to play the younger royals. Elizabeth Debicki’s chillingly accurate portrayal of Princess Diana was the most groundbreaking yet, from her delicate waves at the cameras to her golden feathered shag. Diana’s intimate scenes uncover a deeper side of the international icon than the glamorous one shown to the public. Since I was born in 2007, I am too young to have witnessed her worldwide acclaim, yet “The Crown” has given me a sense of how adored she really was.

The season follows multiple narratives beyond the royal family. Episode three, “Mou Mou,” ventures back to 1946 to introduce a new storyline: Egyptian businessman Mohammed Al Fayed’s rise through British society and the life of his son Dodi, who, famously, later became Diana’s lover. The episode progresses through Al Fayed’s persistence to power, highlighting his friendship with his valet Sydney Johnson, former valet to King Edward. Al Fayed’s decades-long bond with his valet only lasted half an episode, but the scenes of their relationship were heartwarming and beautiful. Al Fayed’s story added a much-needed point of view to the aristocratic story: the commoners in other British territories and their obsessions with British royalty. 

Netflix characterizes the show as a fictional dramatization that tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II, giving directors the freedom to fictionalize events in history. The directors balance accurate events in the royals’ history with ones that are dramatized or even completely fabricated. However, the directors strive to make the settings throughout the seasons historically accurate, down to the year that the telephones in the shots were manufactured. One production designer even went undercover as a tourist to examine Buckingham Palace for an accurate recreation of the state rooms. 

The extensive research for the show comes from documentaries, interviews and biographies. Despite the overwhelming biases from press records, the show balances the true story with public opinion by using intimate sources. One of the most interesting sources used was insider information from an ex-member of the royal household, David Rankin-Hunt.

Although the show is an entertaining drama, the danger with this type of series lies in its accuracy. The creators may not have intended to create an educational show, but nevertheless, it acts as an outlet to historical events. For teenagers, watching a dramatized event of history that they haven’t lived through may communicate inaccurate information. Does Diana’s immature and vengeful manner, created for entertainment, mean she was this unstable in real life? Viewers simply need to be wary due to the purpose of the show: a money maker, not a documentary.

From the incredible acting skills to the binge-worthy storyline to the sophisticated music, “The Crown”‘s elements have gotten me and many others hooked. The sixth season of the show is currently being filmed, set to come out in 2023, as people await how the show will handle Diana’s tragic death.

  • Storyline
  • Acting
  • Technical Quality
  • Enjoyment


“The Crown” surrounds the life of the late Queen Elizabeth II and her 70-year-long reign. Season 5 moves into the 1990s, one of the monarchy’s toughest periods of its reign, where a rivalry between the Prince and the beloved Princess of Wales is in Britain’s spotlight. This eloquent acting in this fleeting batch of episodes leaves you addicted to the intimate story.