The wait is nearly over – The Crown season 4 finally starts streaming on Netflix this week. The prestige drama sees Oliva Colman and Tobias Menzies return as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, while Josh O’Connor and Helena Bonham Carter return as Prince Charles and Princess Margaret. This season is a big one, though, as we finally meet the people's princess, Diana, played by Emma Corrin. The X Files and Sex Education star Gillian Anderson also joins the cast as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The reviews are in, with plenty of praise for Corrin and Anderson’s performances. Below, we’ve rounded up the major reviews of The Crown season 4, so you can get a taste of what’s to come.
After a subpar Season 3, it turns out that what this ongoing narrative of Queen Elizabeth really needed was an enemy – or two. In a season with the most pop culture audience pressure riding on it – because of the Princess Diana factor, there is no doubt that people who have never watched a single second of The Crown before now will tune in – Peter Morgan’s show delivers its best yet. Read the full review here.
It’s a season of next-level performances, really. Anderson’s turn as Thatcher is so viscerally physical – her head held high under an armored bouffant, her replication of Thatcher’s raspy, received pronunciation simply impeccable – that it’s impossible to avoid the critical cliché: she is transformed. Late in the season, Elizabeth and Thatcher clash over South Africa’s apartheid government – the queen supports sanctions, the prime minister does not —–and it results in a tensely repressed showdown so riveting, it’s like watching the Wimbledon finals of acting. Read the full review here.
From a technical standpoint, The Crown remains one of Netflix’s finest dramas. The production design is unparalleled, the cast is outstanding, and it puts the 'prestige' into 'prestige TV.' There’s been no drop off in the quality of the production, which makes the wobbly writing even more apparent. Since the season is largely divided between Thatcher and Diana, you have some terrific Thatcher episodes and some really shaky Diana episodes, and unlike Season 2, which has been the show’s strongest thus far, there’s no major arc that ties everything together. The Crown has always been somewhat episodic, but in previous seasons each episode was stunningly strong, and in Season 4, that’s no longer the case. Read the full review here.
In terms of Charles and Diana's story, Season 4 covers over 10 years in just 10 episodes; the entirety of their engagement is covered in one episode. And though that may seem like a lot of historical meat to chew in a short time, Morgan dedicates enough screentime to the couple so we can get to know them properly, while also spreading sufficient love to the rest of the ensemble in order to prevent Season 4 from becoming the 'Charles and Diana' show. Read the full review here.
For four seasons now, Morgan has written a remarkably addictive, stealthily silly royal soap opera that only occasionally understands just how obvious it can be. And yet, complemented with razor-sharp performances and furnished with the most luxurious set design that Netflix money can be, The Crown has successfully sold itself as one of TV’s most serious dramas. The fourth season, in all its shameless glory, may be its most successful yet even as it puts that prestigious perception to bed. After all, as The Crown reminds us with every dizzying turn of Diana’s misfortunes, the royal family’s rabid audience will always take high drama over a more human reality. Read the full review here.
The Crown season 4 hits on Netflix on November 15. If you need something to watch in the meantime, check out our list of the best Netflix shows to stream right now.