Season 5 of ‘The Crown’ Is My New Ambien

I don’t tend to have trouble sleeping; in fact, I think my partner would like me to publicly admit that I fall deeply asleep at 9 p.m. every night, contentedly snoring like a foghorn for eight peaceful hours. However, after a lot of recent travel and a heaping bowlful of midterms-related stress, I’ve found myself occasionally—gasp!—staying up past 10, unable to drift off to dreamland. 

Luckily, a savior arrived just in time, in the form of season five of the Netflix series The Crown, which…listen, I’m not saying it’s boring, but I’m watching it at bedtime every night and sleeping like a log again, so you do the math.

On its face, this season of The Crown would seem to be too electrifying to lull anyone to sleep, given the presence of Elizabeth Debicki as Tall Princess Diana™, the casting of implausibly hot actor Dominic West to play then Prince Charles, and of course, the absolute grab bag of royal drama that was the English monarchy in the early to mid-’90s. (The queen herself did call 1992 an “annus horribilis” for her family and for good reason.)

Despite all this solid food for content, though, season five of The Crown just feels kind of…gray and dreary, particularly when Princess Margaret—as played by Lesley Manville—is eulogizing her decades-old relationship with Group Captain Peter Townsend for the millionth time. (We get it, girlie! It may be time to begin the healing process!) As my colleague Liam Hess recently put it, “The season’s pacing and sense of cohesion isn’t always helped by Morgan’s penchant for taking us on historical diversions, seemingly to offer some kind of parallel with the present-day goings-on.”

This isn’t to say there aren’t any exciting moments this season—it’s just that they’re kind of few and far between. Debicki is incandescent as Diana, even if she’s lacking some of the raw nerves and emotional disarray that her predecessor, Emma Corrin, brought to the role last season; and as someone who’s been listening to an audiobook of Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers during walks for the better part of the last year, you can’t fairly accuse me of not being interested in the source material. (I mean, Tampongate? How could you not want all the details of that particular royal imbroglio?)