The Crown: Critics pine for show's golden years as they slate final season

The series has failed to gain much critical acclaim in recent years

The Crown S6 P2 (Netflix)
The Crown season 6 part 2 received mixed reviews from critics. (Netflix)

The Crown has come to an end, and critics have had their say on the final episodes which landed on Netflix on Thursday, 14 December.

A once beloved series, The Crown has struggled to gain critical acclaim in recent years and the show's final season has been heavily lambasted by reviewers — especially its first half, which drew the ire of critics for the way in which it approached Princess Diana's final days.

But what of the second half of the final season? Well here is everything you need to know.

The Crown season 6, part 2 reviews

The Crown S6 P2 (Netflix)
The Crown's final episodes charts the Royal Family's history from 1997 to 2005. (Netflix)

The Telegraph gave The Crown's final episodes a two star rating, remarking that the once beloved series had ended "with a miserable whimper".

Anita Singh remarked that the show "started out as a sublime period drama" but in the years since it has gone on to become "a Hallmark Channel movie" because of the way it has approached the story of the British royal family and late monarch Queen Elizabeth II.

The critic said of season six part two: "In these six final episodes, nobody is happy – save for Carole Middleton, who has set out to bag her daughter a prince by any means necessary and literally hangs out the royal bunting when she succeeds. William mopes, Harry sulks, and the only time the Queen shows a flicker of humour is when she announces the results of the Grand National steeplechase to guests at Charles and Camilla’s wedding."

Singh adds: "So now it’s over. That’s the right decision – Morgan had clearly run out of steam and the Harry and Meghan years would be too much to bear."

The Crown S6 P2 (Netflix)
Some critics hit out at The Crown changing from a 'sublime period drama' to a 'Hallmark Channel movie'. (Netflix)

But that wasn't all, as Singh also said that the show's creator Peter Morgan chose to have hindsight colour too much of the story, particularly when it came to the depiction of Prince Harry and the Queen's consideration of her death in 2005, despite her reign continuing til her passing in September 2022.

The Independent gave a similarly scathing review, rating the final six episodes at two stars and commenting on how the show is impacted by its past golden years.

Critic Katie Rosseinsky wrote: "As the final six episodes arrive on Netflix, bringing a saga spanning half a century to a close, Morgan’s drama is haunted by the ghost of past glories. Remember when this all felt exciting – when these on-screen royals seemed painfully, gloriously human? Now they exist less as characters, more as vessels for exposition and knowing nods to present-day royal in-fighting."

The reviewer added that Luther Ford and Ed McVey's Prince Harry and Prince William were given poorly written dialogue that felt it was "written by an AI bot whose only form of reference is [Prince Harry's] autobiography, Spare."

The Crown S6 P2 (Netflix)
The Crown's episode Ritz, which focuses on Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville, pictured), was commended by critics. (Netflix)

Despite this Singh does commend the episode Ritz which focuses on Princess Margaret and her declining health after suffering a series of strokes, though the critic says that even if the episode is good it still feels "too little, too late".

Radio Times gave a more positive review of the final episodes, reflecting on how the change of focus onto Prince William was a good choice as McVey delivered well with his take on the now Prince of Wales.

Critic James Hibbs gave the final episodes a four star rating, and said of McVey: "Thankfully, given the amount of screen time he is afforded and the prominence of his character, McVey is up to the challenge, proving to be a captivating screen presence and impressive at capturing the essence of the young prince."

The reviewer added that while the season 6 part 2 is "unlikely to win around" viewers who had already turned on the show, it was a marked improvement on part one: "It feels far more of a piece with what had come before, and feels like a positive note on which for the show to bow out."

The Crown S6 P2 (Netflix)
Ed McVey's performance as Prince William received mixed reviews, with some critics saying the actor portrayed the royal well and others saying his dialogue felt like it was 'generated by AI'. (Netflix)

The New York Times provided a more balanced review of the final episodes, commending the show for returning the spotlight to Queen Elizabeth II after spending the majority of the first half on Princess Diana.

Critic Mike Hale wrote: "Season 6B is back inside the parlors, bedrooms and country houses of Elizabeth and the other Windsors, and while it does not reach the taut and affecting dramatic highs of the show’s earlier seasons, it’s in its comfort zone."

Hale called Staunton's performance as the monarch "fine" but remarked that her struggle to breathe new life into the role like her predecessors came down to poorer writing and a lack of screen time because of season five and six's focus on other members of the family.

The Crown S6 P2 (Netflix)
A lot of criticism aimed at The Crown focused on how the show uses hindsight too much, particularly in depicting Prince Harry (Luther Ford, pictured) in light of his recent departure from the royal family. (Netflix)

The Hollywood Reporter also provided a balanced criticism of the series, remarking that the issue the new episodes have is in the fact it appears unafraid to depict the royals as anything but sympathetic, which is in stark comparison to previous seasons.

Angie Han wrote: "In its final six episodes, however, The Crown proves less interested in interrogating the status quo than admiring it. It surely makes for a sweeter finish. But it doesn’t make for a very satisfying one."

The critic went on: "Whatever Morgan’s actual motivations, whatever the actual process of making these chapters, the end product has the smoothed-over texture of something scrupulously designed to avoid offending those in power."

The Crown season 6 is now available to watch in full on Netflix.

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