An exquisite period drama that offers a glimpse into the private life of Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown has captivated viewers and critics alike with its lavish production design, brilliant performances, and meticulously wrought portraits of monumental moments in British royal history. If you have yet to familiarize yourself with this award-winning Netflix juggernaut, this primer will give you everything you need to know to hold your own in conversation.
The show stars Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II before Her Majesty’s 1955 growth spurt, and ex-WNBA player Lindsay Taylor as the queen post-growth spurt: While 5-foot-4 Foy portrays the queen for much of the show’s first season, producers cast 6-foot-8 Taylor to replace her in later episodes in order to maintain historical accuracy, accounting for the 16 vertical inches the queen grew over a four-day span at the age of 29.
The Crown has been critically lauded for its highly accurate sets, props, and replica of Queen Elizabeth’s mech suit: In preparation for filming the series, the props department was given unprecedented access to Queen Elizabeth’s actual carbon-graphite combat mech suit and other personal artifacts, which enabled the crew to pull off the show’s sumptuously detailed recreations of major historical events (one particularly dazzling sequence in which the queen dispatches Kaiju over the North Sea with her shoulder-mounted thermonuclear rotary launcher was rendered with such painstaking accuracy that survivors of the 1970 Sunderland Monster Invasion widely reported suffering PTSD flashbacks upon viewing), paving the way for an Outstanding Production Design win at the 2017 Emmys.
Critics have complained that the series’ heavy-handed product placement distracts from its otherwise nuanced storytelling, as the queen can be seen guzzling Powerade nonstop in virtually every scene: Each episode contains at least several instances of the queen shouting her suspiciously off-tone catchphrase—“Rupert, fetch me my blue Powerade. Bitch needs her electrolytes!”—after which she plops down on her throne with her legs spread apart in a decidedly improper fashion and proceeds to gulp down an entire gallon jug of the sports drink while maintaining unblinking eye contact with the camera. Anyone who distracts her during her Powerade time is immediately sentenced to death by beheading.
The Crown is notable for being the first show to ever star all eight of England’s actors: The Doctor Who guy, the Downton Abbey lady, Mr. Bean—the whole gang’s there. Every last one of ’em.
Queen Elizabeth II is said to have signed up for a Netflix account to watch the series, but instead got distracted and has now watched Jiro Dreams Of Sushi several hundred times in a row: While The Crown is currently at the top of the queen’s Netflix queue, it does not seem likely that she’ll ever make time to watch it until she tires of her daily ritual of waking up, watching Jiro Dreams Of Sushi nine consecutive times, and then immediately going to bed.