A Netflix notice reminds viewers, and Judi Dench, that ‘The Crown’ is fictional.
In the fall of 2016, a Netflix notice was sent to users who had watched the first two episodes of the fifth season of “The Crown” saying that it was fictional, and that viewers who had watched it had been misled about its “history.”
This was an entirely unremarkable story, but then, it was the first episode of a fictional show with a very well-known history and a well-known actor as its star, that would have received notice and discussion if it were real. It’s not, but this story is far from uncommon: The first season of “House of Cards” had been leaked and posted online. And last year, fans protested an episode of “House of Cards” without the star, Kevin Spacey, who had abruptly resigned from the show.
This kind of controversy wasn’t inevitable. Netflix, the streaming giant, had been working on putting out a list of shows with which its subscribers were warned to avoid. With the release of its first transparency report, it had identified several shows that featured or featured characters that weren’t based on people. These included “House of Cards,” and the long-running political satire “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” They had all been flagged to be particularly difficult for viewers to deal with. But they were all fictional shows, not real television.
But “The Crown” was different: It was a historical drama on Netflix. And the story behind “The Crown” wasn’t fictional. It was about Queen Elizabeth II, her long reign, and the British coronation. The show was based on the official narrative from the House of Windsor archives, and had been created by a team of scholars, historians, and journalists. The original episodes had been produced before the Queen�