Fans of “The Crown” are excitedly awaiting the fifth season of Netflix’s Emmy-winning streaming dramaset to premiere on Nov. 9.
But critics of the show aren’t fans of the timing — premiering just two months after the death of Britain’s beloved monarchQueen Elizabeth II — or the fact that the dramatized plot is progressing toward more recent events and scandals that impact Britain’s already grieving royal family.
One such critic is Oscar-winning star Dame Judi Dench, who recently, in an open letter to The Sunday Timesurged “The Crown’s” creators to “reconsider” their approach.
“The closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely it seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism,” she wrote.
“Given some of the wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series — that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother’s parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence — this is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent.”
Dench called herself a great “believer in artistic freedom,” but added the series, which is billed as a fictionalized dramatization inspired by real events, needs a disclaimer in its episodes. She stated the “makers have resisted all calls” to do so.
“The time has come for Netflix to reconsider,” she insisted. “For the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve their own reputation in the eyes of their British subscribers.”
Series creator Peter Morgan has addressed concerns about the upcoming season, which will focus on some difficult and scandal-plagued years for the royals — including the acrimonious divorce of Princess Diana and the former Prince of Wales — particularly responding to the claim that it might be cruel to Britain’s new monarch, King Charles.
“I think we must all accept that the 1990s was a difficult time for the royal family, and King Charles will almost certainly have some painful memories of that period,” Morgan noted in a statement given to Variety. “But that doesn’t mean that, with the benefit of hindsight, history will be unkind to him, or the monarchy. The show certainly isn’t. I have enormous sympathy for a man in his position — indeed, a family in their position. People are more understanding and compassionate than we expect sometimes.”
Dominic West, who plays Charles in the new season, also recognized the concerns some have, but in an interview with Entertainment Weeklyhe explained that the cast is taking care in their portrayals as they already look ahead to the sixth season.
When talking about plans for Season 6, West said: “It’s a hell of a season, because it deals with Diana’s death and appalling scenes, like having to break that news to your sons,” he said. “I’ve got two boys of that age and so it’s a heavy, heavy responsibility to get it right and something I think we all take pretty seriously.”
NBC News reached out to Dench, Netflix and Buckingham Palace. Dench and Netflix did not immediately respond, and the responded: “No comment.”
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