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A Guide to The Crown’s Pay Gap Controversy

My favorite show on the entire planet is The Crown.

Over Christmas break, my family binge watched the full two seasons in about 5 days. My dad calls it our “The Crown coma” time period. I love the history, the costumes, the acting, the music, the grandeur of it all- its one of those shows were you feel like you’re watching real art, ya know?

So when I heard that there was a huge gender pay gap for the actors on The Crown, I was shocked and thoroughly shook. Claire Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth in the first two seasons, made less than Matt Smith, who plays her husband Phillip (and I would argue is a much less important role in the show! He’s a main character, but he’s not The Queen!). You can read a whole timeline of the scandal here

The pay gap accidentally got revealed by a producer at a panel discussion (oops!), and rational the producer’s provided was that Smith had more of a star presence than the mostly unknown Claire Foy (Smith used to be Doctor Who). “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen,” producer Suzanne Mackie said. Uh, yeah, they never should of been payed more? And the worst part was, this new policy doesn’t make a difference for Foy- the show is hiring new actors to portray the characters, as the next few seasons will focus on the characters later in life, so older actors are needed.

A petition online started to get a lot of media attention, and it asked Matt Smith to donate his extra money from the show to Time’s Up. Legal experts reported that Foy should consider suing Netflix. 

The production company that handled salaries for the show issued a statement were they defended Smith and said none of it was his fault, saying that nobody on the show knew each other’s salaries, so he didn’t know he was making more. I do feel bad that a lot of people were bashing Smith, when he was not a guilty party in this! Perhaps if he had known, he would have spoken up (though we’ll never really know if he would or not, I suppose). Also, the actor Jared Harris, who plays King George and the queen’s father, called out the show and said they should write Foy a paycheck.

And this week, the Queen finally spoke! In an interview, she said she wasn’t surprised by the pay gap or the fact that it received so much media attention. “I’m not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. I’m not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit odd.’ But I know that Matt feels the same that I do, that it’s odd to find yourself at the centre [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for,” she said. 

Still no word on if Foy will get an extra money, but go her for calling out that pay gaps happen way too often, and for defending her costar! God save the Queen!



Colleen Zewe

Saint Mary's '18

I love fall, holidays, PSLs and forcing my dog to take pictures with me for Snapchat.
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