Netflix Blurs Fact and Fiction With ‘Mank’ and ‘The Crown’


Biopic is an awkward, jammed-together word. We all know it means a movie about someone’s life, and we know it’s showbiz shorthand for “biographical picture.” But it also means a movie with a script and actors, not a documentary in other words. The unvoiced subtext of this bastard child of Hollywood is always, “It might have gone something like this…”

The trick with biopics is knowing how far you can go before you cross a line into pure fiction, a line that The Crown, for example, seems to have crossed so many times that even one of the actors in the show is saying it ought to come with a warning label.

Of course, this huffing and puffing is all a little hypocritical since The Crown’s creators and its audience have been colluding from the first season in the mutually agreed-upon fiction that what’s on screen is true, when we all know that a lot of it’s not. We want to have it both ways. We want to watch The Crown as the lives of the royals, even while we admit that this is, well, yeah, probably not exactly accurate.

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