‘I wanted to offer my sympathy ... woman to woman’: Reading The Crown during a conjuncture of crisis

Soundings - ISSN 1362-6620
Volume 2021 Number 79

‘I wanted to offer my sympathy ... woman to woman’: Reading The Crown during a conjuncture of crisis
Laura Clancy, Sara De Benedictis pages 122-133


The fourth season of Netflix’s award-winning The Crown was released during a moment of crisis, when the UK was under a second lockdown to stem the Covid-19 pandemic. National restrictions, and the pandemic more generally, have exposed a ‘crisis of care’ in the UK and around the world. With schools closed and many working at home, people, particularly women, have been faced with the ‘double burden’ of childcare, domestic care, other caring responsibilities and paid work. The pandemic also drew further attention to classed, gendered and racialised polarities, with symbols of privilege (like access to a garden) made spectacular as lockdown restrictions were tightened. Enter The Crown. Series 4 focuses on the 1970s and 1980s, particularly centred around intimacies of three well-known female figures: Margaret Thatcher, the Queen and Princess Diana. The Crown’s representation of Thatcher and the Queen speaks to broader issues of failed femininities, the collapsing of private/public and home/work, specifically through mothering and unpaid care work/paid labour; class privilege and cultural capital; the politics of ‘wokeness’; and moral responsibility. The Queen is portrayed as the guardian of moral responsibility, the mother of the nation and the British empire, while Thatcher is shown to push forward neoliberalism and free market ideologies. But ultimately these representations are two sides of the same coin. Through the oppositional representations of the Queen and Thatcher the show raises contemporary critiques of neoliberalism, gender and the aristocratic imperial state, only to empty its political potential because such representations are spoken by these elite women, in the context of their families and the home. Such issues have a particular cultural and collective resonance at a conjuncture of lockdown and the pandemic.

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To cite this article
Laura Clancy, Sara De Benedictis (2021) ‘I wanted to offer my sympathy ... woman to woman’: Reading The Crown during a conjuncture of crisis, Soundings, 2021(79), 122-133

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