Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers Nov. 14-20.
I’m tired of hearing about how “The Crown” isn’t accurate, from the likes of Judi Dench and former prime minister John Major, and that Peter Morgan, the show’s creator and writer, is making things up. I mean, of course he’s making it up. It’s historical fiction, built on scripts and costumes and props, and not documentary footage.
All of our beloved royal dramas, including “Wolf Hall,” “The Tudors,” “The Great,” “Victoria,” “Anne of a Thousand Days,” and even the Katharine Hepburn-endorsed “The Lion in Winter,” are fake. “The Crown,” just back for its fifth season, is fake. Shakespeare’s plays about royalty, including “Richard II” and “Henry V,” are fake, every last one of them.
Who said, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”? A character in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV,” not the real Henry IV.
Historical fiction, especially when it’s about famously private famous people, can indeed be powerful, as it contributes to our understanding of them. But we always need to take what we see in these shows and movies with a grain of salt. It may be easier to do that with a whimsical series like “Bridgerton” than it is with the more serious and sober likes of “The Crown,” but it must be done. Writers color in the gaps between landmark public events — a beheading, perhaps, or a car crash — with fully made-up private conversations and invented emotions.
What Morgan does in “The Crown” is use his imagination to transform a set of public stick figures into flawed human beings. That may bother purists, or apologists for the monarchy, or haters of it — but that’s what he does, and he does it with compassion and sensitivity.
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. “Fleishman Is in Trouble” is an eight-episode series based on the novel by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who also wrote this Hulu adaptation. Jesse Eisenberg plays a newly divorced 41-year-old doctor in New York who’s enjoying his newfound sexual freedom when his ex, played by Claire Danes, disappears and he has to take care of their two young children. Lizzy Caplan and Adam Brody also star as his two best friends — Caplan narrates, too, in the trailer — and Josh Radnor and Christian Slater have recurring roles. The comedy-drama premieres on Thursday.
2. The folks behind the German series “Dark” return on Thursday with a new horror-ish Netflix drama called”1899.” It’s about a mysterious steamship voyage carrying immigrants from London to New York in the late 19th century, and it features dialogue in many different languages. (It sure looks intense in the trailer.) Anton Lesser and Emily Beecham are part of the large cast.
3. Thursday features a pair of returns. “Dead to Me” is the Netflix comedy about the unlikely, secret-filled, and sometimes deadly friendship between Christina Applegate’s Jan and Linda Cardellini’s Judy. This is the third and final season. And “The Sex Lives of College Girls” is the HBO Max comedy, co-created by Mindy Kaling, about the newfound freedoms of dorm life for a tight group of friends. This is its second season.
4. The CW had success in 2021 with “The Waltons: Homecoming,” so the network is bringing the Depression-era family back for another movie, “A Waltons Thanksgiving.” Bellamy Young and Teddy Sears return as Olivia and John Sr., and Logan Shroyer returns as John Boy. The original John Boy, Richard Thomas, narrates the story (and introduces the trailer), and it’s definitely going to try to provide warmth, kindness, and hope. It’s on Sunday at 8 p.m.
5. Two concerts arrive this weekend. On Saturday at 8 p.m., it’s the “2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony” on HBO. The 2022 inductees include Dolly Parton, Eminem, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Lionel Richie, and Carly Simon. The long list of performers includes Sheryl Crow, Sara Bareilles, Olivia Rodrigo, Brandi Carlisle, and Dave Grohl. (Here’s Parton singing “Jolene” with a stage full of stars.) On Sunday at 8 p.m., it’s “Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium” on Disney+. The streaming concert will feature John playing all the hits, and there will be special guest stars.
“Limitless With Chris Hemsworth” A six-part docuseries about the potential of the human body. Disney+, Wednesday
“2022 American Music Awards” Wayne Brady hosts. ABC, Sunday, 8 p.m.
“Master of Light” A documentary about an artist who served 10 years in federal prison. HBO, Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.
“The Crown” A compelling new season with a new cast. Netflix
“The White Lotus” An entertaining new season of Mike White’s satire. HBO
“Magpie Murders” A clever whodunit inside a whodunit from PBS’s “Masterpiece,” starring Lesley Manville. GBH 2
“Interview With the Vampire” Anne Rice’s complex, sensual creatures survive the transition to TV. AMC, AMC+
“Reboot” An affectionate satire of Hollywood that’s also a workplace comedy. Hulu
“The U.S. and the Holocaust” A powerful three-part documentary from Ken Burns and his team. GBH 2
“The Patient” Steve Carell as a therapist kidnapped by a serial killer. Hulu