With Britain entering another pandemic lockdown at the beginning of January, I had little choice but to indulge in the small screen. I decided to give Netflix’s The Crown a go, as it is one of their highest rated and controversial productions. With the fifth season currently in pre-production, the first four seasons are available for streaming.

Expecting a historically inaccurate left-leaning hatchet job, what I instead found was a very deep and well-researched series. Although it occasionally contains fictional scenarios, it stayed mostly true to both the time period and the historical figures involved. Considering the enormous budget ($156 million), perhaps the audience should expect such high standards. It’s not just that so many of Britain’s post-war events are featured, it’s that the show very effectively covers the country’s decline to a second-rate power, the social changes that take place, and the conflicting personalities of politicians, royals, and other notables.

The emotional strain and tragedy, for example, of the artist Graham Sutherland (played by Stephen Dillane) being publicly humiliated by Churchill is one such example. Another would be the ninth episode of season two, where the school lives of both Prince Philip (played by Matt Smith) and his son Charles are compared and contrasted as their personal conflict grows. The flashback scene involving the plane crash is particularly memorable and brutal, and helps bring a little-known part of royal history to life.

In Britain at least, much of the media published negative reviews of the series, and although they correctly pointed out some inaccuracies, their main criticism seemed to be that it was made at all. In the country, despite widespread public interest, it is still taboo to make programs about the royal family, and I sense this is really why the media’s attacks have been so consistent.

These mainstream reviewers willfully miss the great script and flowing narrative, especially in seasons one and four. They also seem to have ignored the brilliantly portrayed descent of Princess Margaret (played by Vanessa Kirby), as she is denied the love of her life because of class snobbery and the taboo surrounding divorce, and traumatically descends into drink and delinquency as a result. Far from being a smear piece, the show actually shows Queen Elizabeth’s strengths in aiding her country during the Cold War, and gives some long overdue credit to her overworked and reliable private secretaries.

However, one major sticking point is the marriage of Charles and Diana, which, although providing for a great drama, does somewhat get a bit loose on the truth. Rather than the relationship breaking down straight away into animosity and chaos, there was actually about five years of happiness, and the show’s not-so-subtle hint that Prince Philip (might) be capable of orchestrating her end is a bit too far considering the lack of evidence.

All in all, though, during our current times when many of us are stuck indoors and unable to live normal lives, this show is a great binge watch. If you are interested in history then it is definitely a hit, and you’ll probably learn facts about 20th century Britain, America, and the Cold War that are not taught in schools. It is definitely one of Netflix’s top productions, and deserves its wide range of awards and accolades.