Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown (Photo: Netflix)
The reviews are in for The Crown’s long-awaited fifth season, and it seems critics can’t seem to agree about the award-winning drama’s latest outing.
Yes, while many have said the Netflix original’s return is a strong start for its third cast – led by Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II – others have absolutely torn it to sheds.
So far, the polarising show has already been described in different reviews as “boring”, “dull”, “tawdry” and “addictive”, with some referring to it as a low-point for The Crown, while others hail it as strong as ever.
Intrigued? Us too. Here’s just a selection of what critics have had to say about the new series:
The Guardian (2/5)
“Season five of The Crown now arrives as the first to be shown since its protagonist’s death – and the show itself feels as if its time has come and gone […] these new episodes are bitty and often just boring, with Morgan casting around for side plots to hide the fact that everything he has to say about the Windsors has already been said.”
“The new, fifth season of The Crown is the show’s weakest outing yet: A generally scattered and unfocused show is less disciplined than ever. The fact of the divorce between Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) being so obviously the point of greatest interest for a contemporary audience has forced the series to slow its pace and linger.
“The Crown faces the same problem the Queen did; Diana, with her ravenous eyes and her need to be cherished, consumes all the oxygen. But even after having been handed the gift of a memorable scandal with two hugely charismatic and flawed participants as grist, The Crown finds it has nothing to say.”
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in The Crown (Photo: Keith Bernstein)
The Telegraph (2/5)
“This was once a superior costume drama, moments of 20th-century history packaged into an upmarket soap opera. But as the storylines catch up with the present, the show is edging towards trashy telenovela [...] It’s laughably heavy-handed.”
“It’s a season that already feels like too far in the past and too far in the future to be worth going the distance for anymore.”
The Independent (2/5)
“The reality is that The Crownran out of steam a while ago. It was intended as a piece of historical fiction, playing on the way that the early days of Elizabeth II’s reign had disappeared into the fog of history.
“The longer it has gone on, the more it has assumed an exhaustive and soap operatic quality – not to mention that, in dedicating now two seasons to doomed lovers Charles and Diana, it has become increasingly tawdry.”
“Season five sees the magnetism that has previously surrounded The Crown’s central figure start to fade [...] A recurring narrative theme is the question of The Firm’s place in the modern world, with a more dynamic and engaging next generation waiting in the wings.
“This push-and-pull dominates much of the Queen’s character interactions with her heir Prince Charles, and it could be said that the sentiment permeates the wider season itself too.”
Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West as Princess Diana and Prince Charles (Photo: Netflix)
“The mimicry can be grating when you’re more familiar with the real thing. The pace and the cast aren’t quite as finely tuned as the previous series either, though the good moments are still really, really good [...] The Crown still captures something fundamental and immensely watchable about the Royal Family – their constant tussle between duty and individual happiness.”
“At this particular turning point, and especially looking ahead to what the sixth and final season is likely primed to address, it remains to be seen whether The Crown will wrap things up on a high note — or, like the monarchy itself, it’ll fight to maintain its relevancy right up until the end.”
The Times (4/5)
“Despite the thousands of outraged words that have been written accusing it of turning the royal family into a cheap soap opera, I’m afraid the first three episodes are ditchwater dull. But here’s the good news. It gets better. Much better.
“And the absolute star is Elizabeth Debicki, whose performance as Princess Diana is at times freakishly good.”
“Premiering two months after the real Queen Elizabeth’s death at age 96 and bringing in a brilliant new cast, season 5 of The Crown is thrilling, messy, bitter and not very kind — perhaps unavoidably so, considering the 90s were a difficult time for the Royal Family.
“This season would sting royal sensibilities, regardless of memories of the late Queen, because the show has now reached the low point of the reign.”
Evening Standard (4/5)
“Elizabeth Debicki has the trickiest call as Diana, but she gets pretty close: her way of doing Di is always to look up from under her eyelashes, which Diana did. She conveys something of her grace, waywardness and humour.
“For most of the cast, especially Imelda Staunton, the faces are all wrong but the demeanour and diction so plausible you don’t mind. Dominic West channels the mannerisms of Charles so effectively, he makes the original seem unsatisfactory.”
Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce in character in The Crown (Photo: Netflix)
“At a time when seemingly every tabloid saga of the past half-century is getting adapted into an Emmy-bait miniseries, The Crown distinguishes itself by doing what it’s always done best: combining clear-eyed empathy, shrewd commentary and a refreshing intellectual curiosity into 10 elegant hour-long episodes.”
“If the series had been forced to compress Seasons 5 and 6 into one season, details like Dodi Al-Fayed helping to produce the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire might have been lost to the cutting room floor. Which would have been a shame, as hyper-specificity is often where this show shines: Not in the sweeping recreations of coronations and weddings and political movements, but in the small moments.
“A husband telling his wife he hates her new haircut, a mother scolding her son, two sisters saying ‘I love you’ on the phone. Netflix may now make a point of saying that this show is fiction, but in those moments, it seems real on a truly human level.”
“The Crown season five is as supremely high quality as any of the other seasons. Casual viewers may find certain parts a bit slow, certainly by comparison to season four, but things are getting serious now.
“We all know what’s coming in season six and if season 5 had one duty, it was to tell Diana’s story properly. Debicki, through a fabulous scene-stealing performance, achieves this and more.”
Radio Times (4/5)
“This is every bit the addictive, incisive, characterful drama that fans have come to know and love [...] it’s fair to say that if season six once again measures up to this standard, then the king and queen of historical dramas will be bowing out having had quite the reign.”
The Crown returns to Netflix on Wednesday 9 November.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.