Fans of The Crown, the hit Netflix series chronicling Queen Elizabeth II's reign, have a bit of a wait ahead of them before the show's next chapter airs. As the cast is changing over once again—Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter, Downton Abbey) is stepping into the British monarch's shoes—there will be a break between between seasons four and five, with new episodes expected in 2022. (The delay reportedly isn't pandemic related, but was rather prudently timed.)
Fortunately, between the ongoing fallout over Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview, and a new series on Masterpiece PBS called Atlantic Crossing, there's no shortage in royal drama this spring.
Inspired by the real-life experiences of the Norwegian royal family during the German occupation of their country in World War II, Atlantic Crossing fictionalizes Crown Princess Märtha's journey to safety in the U.S., and her influential relationship with President FDR. It's that combination of royal history and political drama that really scratches the same itch as The Crown. Plus, no major spoilers, but Queen Elizabeth's parents even show up for a few episodes.
And much like the Netflix series, you'll want to watch this one poised to factcheck history with a quick internet search—only this time, most Americans will be starting without even basic knowledge of the real life people featured in the story. (We may have overthrown the monarchy back in the 18th century, but the average person in the U.S. still knows who Prince Charles is.)
And as a quick Google search will illustrate, both shows sometimes stretch the truth. The stories are rooted in fact, but it's difficult to know exactly what was said in intimate moments or behind closed doors, and these are, after all, dramas, not documentaries.
"It was really hard for us to find information on Martha and what she was up to during her period in America, which lasted for the whole length of the war," Alexander Eik, the writer and creator of the series said in an interview with the Television Critics Association.
"We labeled this show, 'inspired by true events.' But the overall story of Atlantic Crossing is true: That Crown Princess Märtha had more access to President Roosevelt than any other person, [save] for his advisers, up until his death, and that she made a significant effort to help Norway during the war."
Despite the similar storytelling in The Crown and Atlantic Crossing, there are differences between the two shows, the biggest of which is the subtitles. While a portion of Crown Princess Märtha's story takes place stateside, expect to read the dialogue for the better part of some episodes.
But as Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho said in his acceptance speech for Parasite in 2020, "Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films."
The same could be said for television.
Atlantic Crossing premieres this Sunday on Masterpiece PBS at 9 p.m.
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