The Crown Is Now Too Real

Photo by Cristian Negraia on Unsplash

I have long been a student of history and have loved exploring the history of many of the world’s royal families. I have traced my own family lineage back to the year 770, so far. And in this lineage, there is scattered through my own fair share of those with royal and titled ancestry.

I have enjoyed immensely the first three seasons of the Netflix show The Crown. It was steeped in history and the magic of fairy tales with princesses and kings and war and peace. Sweeping stories of historical significance.

Yes, there was also the tragic tales of Princess Margaret never allowed to be happy and the death of the Queen’s father, along with abdication and a monstrous world war. But more so it was the fairy tale with castles, beauty, and magic.

The Queen is famously quoted as saying that the she must be seen to be believed as if without that she is a mythical creature living in a tower imbued with divine rights and far above mere mortals. I think most of us would like to believe that rather than the truth of what being Queen and being a person in a family under that Queen is really like.

Yes, I know that the television show is fictionalized. I know that many of the parts of Season 4 were “added to” for creative license and impact. However, I do believe that the core of all that fiction was the truth. And in the middle of the season and at the end, I felt not entertained, not educated, not in a world of magical fantasy but sad.

I am not so much sad for the people of the royal family as I am for the loss of the magic of my enjoyment of it. They are now people who by birthright or conquest came to be the Windsors and they are prisoners of their own creation. Most of them unhappy in some way and out of touch with reality and real people in so many more ways.

What made me most sad though is that the devastation on the psyche of the members of the family is truly something to be pitied. They can no longer be magical myths when they are or were lacking emotions, bound by enforced duty and directives, depressed, anxious, lacking courage, unfaithful, lonely, with eating disorders, repressed, and sad.

People will say, but it was just made up for television, and parts of it were. However, again, now that we are much closer to current time and there is so much evidence, factual, real evidence, that so much of what was in Season 4 actually occurred just as it was portrayed or even possibly worse than it was portrayed, that is no longer fiction. It is just sad.

The Queen comes from a time in history where duty, doing what one had to do, carrying on no matter how difficult, was a way of life. This was her generations highest belief system. There was no shirking duties, or not doing something because you didn’t want to or didn’t feel like it, or abandoning a marriage or the crown. You just carried on.

This was and I am sure still is her expectation of members of her family. However, times have changed considerably since World War II and if people no longer want to be married or do not love their spouse they expect that they do not have to keep living with them. If people want to give up royal duties and life, they expect that they can do so (as Prince Harry as done). If people want to marry someone outside the expected or arranged they expect that they are able to do so. It must be very hard for the Queen to reconcile these things.

Season 4 of The Crown has brought back for many the very angry feelings they had towards Prince Charles and Camilla regarding Diana. Even to the point of people making very rude comments on posts by the two of them on social media. But all of that is in the past and cannot be changed. And no one, not a single person in the family or outside of it, was innocent in all that happened.

Instead of anger, I think sadness is the emotion not from the television show, as I know that it is fictionalized. But from what I know to be true through the multitude of evidence. I liked to pretend like watching the Royal family in their “dressed up” or “mythical” state could cover all of the things that were just too real and not magical at all.

They are just people with a lot of issues who have a lot of money and big houses who ended up in the right line to the throne. Underneath all the royalty, they are just struggling to be loved and to love, to be happy, to live. Just like the rest of us.

Unfortunately, Princess Diana and Princess Margaret were never able to have those things.

And speaking of Princess Margaret, Helena Bonham-Carter was the one shining light in this sad season. Her portrayal of a woman who was forced to give up the things she wanted most for the good of the one, the crown was heartbreaking and magnificent. Not much about this season was worth praise for me, but her performance was majestic and I do hope she is rewarded with all the awards possible.

In totality however, the show was just too real, too close to the truth and a complete stripping away of the magic, the mystery, the sparkle off the crown. And it just makes me sad.

Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy.

Photo by Leslie Jones on Unsplash

I have reached the age where nostalgia is very enjoyable. Going back in time to relive parts of my younger years is always a serotonin/dopamine fest for my brain. And so it was when I stumbled across Cobra Kai on Netflix.

I loved the original Karate Kid movie with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. It came out in 1984 just a few years after I graduated high school and it was a quintessential root for the underdog coming of age movie for the eighties. There were good guys and bad guys and the lines of demarcation were clearly drawn. The good guy underdog wins in the end and learns about life in the process. A feel good movie for the ages.

I was hesitant when I saw Cobra Kai on the Netflix show guide, but I thought I will watch a couple of episodes just for the nostalgia of it and if it’s terrible I will not have lost much in the process. Little did I know that it would be an all consuming rabbit hole that I could not escape until I finished both seasons in a weekend.

The show is formulaic to the extreme. It isn’t Oscar worthy writing. The show relies heavily on call backs to the original movie complete with clips inserted throughout the episodes. The great Pat Morita is showcased quite often providing Daniel LaRusso with ongoing lessons of life. But the nostalgia brain chemistry dump is delicious.

Daniel is all grown up now with a wife and two kids. His mom is still alive and is in a couple of episodes as well. We also have the evil Johnny Lawrence of Cobra Kai who is divorced with a son he doesn’t have a relationship with and is an alcoholic to boot. Daniel’s daughter has been taught karate and Johnny’s son is learning from Daniel. While Johnny is teaching a down on his luck underdog (much like Daniel used to be) Karate the Cobra Kai way.

While Ralph Macchio is still very good in the role of Daniel, his evolution has not been that great. He is basically still the good guy whose life worked out really well and he still tries to live by the principles taught by Mr. Miyagi.

Johnny on the other hand played by the amazingly talented William Zabka is on a meteoric evolutionary path through the first two seasons. And he plays out all the emotional twists and turns magnificently. The guy you hated now becomes the guy you understand better, empathize with, and yes, root for.

In fact, I would say Johnny’s story is the most compelling so far of the two seasons and I cannot wait to see what happens to him in season 3.

The show overall though is nostalgia crack. I could not stop watching it. Yes, some things are just a bit too corny and yes some are overly formulaic, but the characters are interesting, the acting is solidly good or in Zabka’s case outstanding, and the nostalgia is worth every hour I spent glued to my television.

If you haven’t seen Cobra Kai on Netflix yet, check it out, especially if you are a Karate Kid fan and an eighties nostalgia crackhead like me.

“Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better.” ~ Mr. Miyagi

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