‘Contradictory’: The worst part of The Crown’s new season

 

Assuming there is a God and He is Catholic, we can also assume He invented Netflix to stop people getting divorced - although my employer tells me it only works if you do it through Foxtel.

Thus it was that my wife and I found ourselves binge-watching the latest series of The Crown instead of finding new ways to describe how annoying each other's habits were.

The downside was we ended up finding new ways to describe how annoying Gillian Anderson's accent was. It sounded like a horse with an overbite being dragged backwards through a bale of straw. Indeed, it was almost as though Anderson's pantomime vocal stylings as Margaret Thatcher were designed to distract attention from what her character was actually saying. And no wonder.

Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown.
Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown.

The problem with making historical drama in the #MeToo era is there is an impulse to present women as oppressed, sympathetic and progressive but sometimes the history just won't play along. There is no better example than when the two most powerful women in 20th century Britain - Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II - collide.

For all the rendering of the Queen in earlier seasons as thoughtful, open-minded and even insecure, she and her family are simply outrageous snobs. They despise Thatcher because she is a grocer's daughter who infiltrated the Tories. The irony is that it is the Windsors exposed as coarse and juvenile buffoons.

This would make Thatcher the sympathetic figure - the warrior woman who fought her way to the top against all odds - but that's a bit tricky too.

The closest she gets to being oppressed by husband Denis is when he meekly complains he won't be able to play golf at Balmoral. It is the stuffy Conservatives in her cabinet who are painted as roadblocks to her destiny - except they are merely pleading for her not to sack thousands of workers.

As a result she sacks them too and transforms a cabinet of old white men into a cabinet of middle-aged white men because she wouldn't let women in her cabinet - she didn't think they were up to the job. In other words the whole thing is contorted, contradictory and grossly hypocritical.

There is no narrative, just politics and personalities. And that's what makes it so good.

Apart from the accent, of course.

 

Originally published as 'Contradictory': The worst part of The Crown's new season


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