Published On: Wed, Dec 6th, 2017

In Season 2 of The Crown, a reminder that laddishness has always been with us

The Show:The Crown, Season 2, Episode 2

The Moment: The laddishness

Prince Philip (Matt Smith) and his best friend Mike (Daniel Ings) are on a five-month royal tour, sailing from the Pacific Islands to Antarctica. Mike is cheating on his wife; Philip may be, too. Mike writes a letter, which is read aloud in London at the Thursday Club, a private luncheon full of loutish gents.

“On royal tours past, when the queen has been present, the evenings have been polite occasions,” goes the letter. “Not this time. Philip is a work-hard-play-hard man who would never stand in the way of a bit of fun. In New Guinea, as it turns out, there’s no such thing as infidelity. Men are expected to indulge.”

The Thursday Clubbers huzzah and pound their tables so lustily their cutlery and cocktails jump.

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It’s a coincidence that this episode, about how entitled men egg on one another in bad behaviour, arrives at this specific cultural moment. But it proves that laddishness — and worse — has always been with us.

Philip is pouting because his wife is more powerful. Mike urges him on because he wants a partner in crime. (To heighten the manliness, Mike even stages a beard-growing contest on the ship.) It’s a real illustration of how male loutishness is sanctioned, and even celebrated, by certain habits and institutions.

But Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy), representing civility, steps in to remind Philip of his responsibilities and his better self. At a crucial moment, he reads her note: “Always remember you have a family.” It’s Elizabeth’s show so, for a change, the woman gets the last word.

Season 2 of The Crown begins streaming Friday on Netflix. Johanna Schneller is a media connoisseur who zeroes in on pop-culture moments. She usually appears Tuesday and Thursday.

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In Season 2 of The Crown, a reminder that laddishness has always been with us